In the case of “Basketball Wives” star Draya Michele, “entrepeneur” isn’t just PR-speak for “reality star.” Michele helms two clothing lines and is expanding her line of swimwear, Mint Swim, to include plus-size and children’s suits. Her bomb bathing suits vary in cut to fit a variety of body types — the baywatch babe but also the girl with some belly to hide. Michele’s thoughtfulness makes sense – unlike, say, Wines By Wives, you can’t slap a celebrity label on any old bikini and expect customers to be pleased. But that doesn’t make it any less rare. Draya is showing Mint Swim’s summer collection at LA Swim Week, and will preview designs drawn with inspiration from her 3.7 million social media followers.
I chatted by phone with Draya Michele about inclusivity in fashion, growing up and out of bodycon dresses, and when you’ll see her next on screen.
YouBeauty: Tell me about the swim line! Have you always wanted to be a designer?
Draya Michele: I’ve always wanted to be a designer, even before television it was always something I wanted to do. The only thing that was ever stopping me was money restrictions. Also location – I was in Pennsylvania. I needed to be in LA to start it. I’m 100% in charge of Mint Swim. I’m in charge of the designs 100%. It’s my baby. I take a lot of pride in it.
I read that you have specific body types in mind when designing – I especially loved the mother-daughter suit. Can you tell me more about that?
I definitely keep different body types in mind when I’m designing. I tried to cater to different body types. Especially now, we’re introducing a plus-size line and a children’s line. I just want girls to know that you don’t have to have my body or my model’s bodies. You can have your body and still look amazing in a swimsuit. I just design things that are for all shapes. I have curvy shape ones, I have boyish shape ones, athletic shape ones, just something for everyone. I’m a pleaser and I want to make everyone happy, or at least as many people as I can happy.
I just want girls to know that you don’t have to have my body or my model’s bodies. You can have your body and still look amazing in a swimsuit.
Did you notice that there wasn’t representation for certain body types in fashion or do you think you’re naturally more inclusive?
I think swimsuits in general are a really hard thing for women to shop for. A lot of women are different sizes on top and on bottom. I just wanted to be the brand that’s able to have kids and plus size but still have it be really sexy and still up to speed. Just because it’s larger, doesn’t mean it has to be ugly. I still want to keep everyone stylish. I want to be the first brand that makes really cute swimsuits for all sizes and body types.
Tell me about the plus-size line.
I don’t want plus-size women to feel like they’re wearing plus-size swimsuits. Every swimsuit that I make in plus-size, I also made in a smaller size. They’ll know that this isn’t just a bigger girl swimsuit. It’s an all girl’s swimsuit. [Click on to read more…]