Clover Lewis Swimwear
Above: Clover Lewis Swimwear La Victoire Ruched Bikini. Images by Clover Lewis Ltd.
“We need something that not just supports covering ourselves but something that makes us feel good inside. So that was the fuel for developing the brand.” – Clover Lewis, founder of Clover Lewis Swimwear.
by Michelle Broomes, Lingerie Journal Editor.
There is an old adage that goes: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This is certainly the testimony of British designer, entrepreneur and Breast Cancer Care charity ambassador Clover Lewis who I met at the MODA SS16 show at NEC in Birmingham.
Clover turned a personal tragedy into a triumph by designing a self-named high end swimwear line for post-surgery women like herself. Not only is the brand a tribute to women who have survived the trauma of breast cancer but is also Clover’s reminder to herself that she too fought the dreaded disease and came out the victress.
Above: Clover Lewis Swimwear at MODA.
Her story is an inspirational one that started a few years ago when she learnt of her own diagnosis and has seen her go from medical office to MODA Boutique as she displayed her collection at the UK’s biggest and best trade show for lingerie and swimwear. Her work has earned her accolades in trade publications like Swim Yearbook, Underlines and Lingerie Insight and even in the popular glossy mag Woman & Home.
“Clover turned a personal tragedy into a triumph by designing a self-named high end swimwear line for post-surgery women like herself.”
Clover exuded not only a passion for her brand and what it represents to her but also what seemed like the inherent spirit of a heroine. Rather than retreat from the world as she faced her own struggle with breast cancer she decided to literally dive in and take it all in her stride.
“It’s not that I set out to start a swimwear brand,” she informed. “My first love is lingerie but I was needs driven.”
Her need was born out of her personal struggle.
“My experience is that I had breast cancer,” she explained. “Five years ago I was diagnosed and I wanted to learn how to dive.” Her decision to tackle this item on her bucket list presented her with a stark realization.
“I couldn’t find any post-surgery swimwear that made me feel like the beautiful young woman that I am. So I made myself a bikini on my home overlocker [sewing machine], managed to go to Bali and get my open water diving certificate.”
Above: Dive High Neck Swimsuit.
But rather than resting on her laurels, that accomplishment gave her the impetus to speak to and support other young women through the charity Breast Cancer Care where she discovered that her challenges of redefining and redressing an altered silhouette were not just unique to herself.
Now, her message is one of encouragement to her counterparts.
“Our bodies are different but we’re still amazing,” she expressed. “We need something that not just supports covering ourselves but something that makes us feel good inside. So that was the fuel for developing the brand.”
Clover desired to create a swimwear collection that now stands as an inspiration as to the polished results that can be achieved when essential function meets a strong design input as it relates to post surgery intimate apparel and swim.
“It was based on the fact that there was such a shortage of designer [post-surgery] swimwear – anything that’s really high end that didn’t just have loads of print,” she expressed.
Ironically, before being diagnosed herself with breast cancer, Clover had been working in a therapeutic capacity with survivors of the disease and her experience has served not only advantageous to her own recovery but as product knowledge in creating a vital collection for women who want to look good outside and feel good inside after battling with this disease that affects tens of thousands of British women each year.
Above: Clover Lewis Swimwear on the MODA Catwalk.
“The [Clover Lewis Swimwear] Olympians Rule collection embodies the undeniable Olympic spirit – believing that you can win despite the odds – a philosophy from which anyone can benefit when facing life’s hurdles”.
Consequently, in her quest to empower women through their post-surgery transformation process Clover, who has a background in Fine Arts and costume making, has spent the last three years concentrating her talents and skills into her collection which has resulted in the beautiful, vibrant and versatile swim assortment that she presented to MODA patrons.
To the industry, Clover’s work exemplifies a newcomer swim/resort brand but for her it’s been a part of her healing process, infusing her with comeback power which she desires to impart to other women.
“This has been my recovery project,” she delightfully declared, as each piece of her collection stood out as a symbol of triumph.
In keeping with the victorious essence of her collection, and rightly calling on elements of Grecian mythology to this end, Clover has aptly titled her range “Olympians Rule”.
And to bring fortune into further alignment for the daring designer, her collection is targeted for release in the Olympic year 2016. This she assured me is coincidence but obvious sweet serendipity.
The Olympians Rule collection embodies the undeniable Olympic spirit – believing that you can win despite the odds – a philosophy from which anyone can benefit when facing life’s hurdles, and one that’s at the heart of Clover’s offering in this collection.
Olympians Rule comprises bikini sets, costumes and kaftan. The bust sections are all made discreetly ready to accept prostheses but can be worn by any lady as a typically fashionable luxury suit or swim bra. Higher shaping around the underarm and décolletage is excellent for concealing any post-surgery scars with soft moulding ideal for both shaping and comfort. Her background in colour consulting has enabled Clover to select a delightful palette that is complimentary to just about any skin tone.
The collection presents as three equally motivating stories:
Inspired by Clover’s first scuba diving experience in Bali, the Dive collection symbolizes jumping into the unknown straddled with both faith and fear and emerging as a changed character – better and stronger. Clover calls it her metaphor for diagnosis [going under the water] and transformation [emerging from the deluge]. The range comprises a halter neck costume in energetic Ocean Blue and sophisticated high neck bikini in captivating Coral Red.
The symbol of feminine prowess and strength represented by the statue of the mythological Greek winged goddess displayed in the Louvre, Paris, brings out the underpinning of Clover’s collection – the irrepressible strength of the female spirit when she is faced with adversity. Pieces in this range have features of draping and ruching that reflect the sensually sculpted robes on the La Victoire sculpture. Costumes display a beautifully flattering empire underbust whilst a ruched neckline is ideal for “breaking up” the bust line, aiding in the concealment of any bust aids. Gathered tabbed straps strengthen the Grecian appeal of the La Victoire story. Colourways include Ocean Blue/Marine, Frivolous Pink/Coral Red and Black Lace/Black.
Evoking images of the beauties of yesteryear, Jump has a nostalgic underpinning that dates back to the fifties. With a classic nautical colourway of White/Marine Navy that will stay current for many seasons, Jump speaks to the beauty of movement – the refusal to stay weighed down by cares. A bandeau costume with support strap and longer line bikini will allow the wearer to confidently embrace her renewed silhouette and take her own leap of faith into whatever lies ahead.
The Clover Lewis Swimwear collection is available from Jan/Feb 2016.