Sink or swim

Sink or swim

This is the story of how we developed our swimwear range, and all of the joys and woes along the journey towards their release.  The story starts with our glorious marketing guru Shannon. Since the very beginning, she has had a thing for swimwear, and when she talked about the possibility of us one day making our own her gaze would go to the horizon as she talked about it in hushed, dreamy tones.

I started to look for swimwear fabric in the middle of winter, thinking that summer was SO FAR AWAY.  We eventually decided to go with deadstock fabric, meaning that we bought fabric that was left over from massive industrial production (usually from other swimwear brands) that was destined for landfill.  

Choosing colours was petrifying, as it involved guessing what colours people would like a half-year in the future.  In the end I just chose colours I liked and decided that I could never really know what was ‘on trend’ (let alone project it into the future), just what felt right for us and our brand.

Coming up with designs involved a lot of trawling Pinterest and the internet at large for inspiration, and once again Shannon took the helm with the design research.  Nisa’s customers range fairly evenly from 20-year-olds to 60-year-olds, and we knew we had to come up with a range of styles to suit everyone. We decided on a full-piece classic cut that would make all figures look amazing, a tank? bikini with a high-waisted brief for a more classic 50s look, and then a super modern gathered-front bikini.  These pieces came to be called Yusra, Suki and Gina, names chosen by our supporters on behalf of inspiring women in their lives or in the public sphere.

Making the swimwear was quite a challenge, and the team stepped up in the most amazing way despite us being down a production manager for a few weeks.  Swimwear fabric is crazily slippery, and so much more difficult to cut and sew than cotton! I now have a much greater appreciation for why swimwear costs so much: it is a lined garment, meaning from a sewing perspective it is two garments sewn together to make one final piece; you need so many fiddly bits and piece - I had to scour the whole of New Zealand to buy the last pieces of rubber elastic that were certain widths; and it takes a long, long time to sew.  Going to some shops now and seeing swimwear for $20 blows my mind - how is it possible?

I also had this burning desire to have our swim shoot on a classic yacht, which we ended up pulling off with the help of an obliging and lovely boat owner and some very brave models that weren’t afraid to get out onto the bow as it was zooming along with the sails up.

It was a real buzz today seeing all of the swimwear orders rushing in, and feeling like we’ve finally done it!  I bought a cake for the team at the workshop and we were all so proud of the work we’d put into it and how good the final product looks.


  • Liz on

    Congratulations Elisha on the development of the swimwear line. This is great news and the photos are brilliant. Well done!

  • Julia on

    Congratulations Elisha and the wider Nisa team, love the colours you’ve chosen and pleased to hear it’s off to a great start with the swimwear!

  • Judi Mccallum on

    Whow ee Elisha and team. .This is a quantum leap. Well done y’all 👍

  • Irene Wakefield on

    Congratulations Elisha! I love watching the Nisa brand unfold. I still remember the early days of Shannon talking to me about how excited she was to help you get started. I know too well how amazing she is to work with. You both make a great team!

  • Heather Tanguay on

    Congratulations, you are amazing, going for your dream. The staff continue to make outstanding products.

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