How Two Women From Vancouver Created the Swimsuit of Your Dreams
What to know about this designed-in-Vancouver swimsuit company.
This summer, I finally bought myself a new swimsuit (it had been a couple of years). With a 15-month-old daughter starting to run around and a softer stomach than previous summers, I wanted to avoid anything too skimpy but I also didn’t want to look like I was trying to hide under a full-body wetsuit. Instead of putting myself through the torture of trying on dozens of suits in a poorly lit change room, I opted to order online. A little risky when it comes to swimsuits, I’ll admit. But the company I chose to order from offered a code for free shipping and returns so I figured I had nothing to lose. A few days later, in time for the Canada Day long-weekend, my new suit arrived and I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed with the quality and fit. I’d selected the Peak Suit in Sunburn (Red) from a Canadian swimwear brand called Left on Friday. After wearing it all weekend at my in-laws’ pool, it had checked off all my wants and needs and survived several swims with a slightly handsy toddler. It’s quickly become my go-to swimsuit.
Left on Friday is a newcomer to the swimwear market (the brand officially launched May 18th) but co-founders Shannon Savage and Laura Low Ah Kee are veterans in the activewear business. Together they have over two decades of experience working at Lululemon. Shannon is credited with creating the women’s running line, while Laura’s expertise lies in product merchandising. (Psst: Check out the 15 most Instagram-worthy spots to practice yoga in Canada.)
Intrigued about the women behind my new fave swimsuit, I called up Left on Friday’s co-founders Shannon and Laura (currently based out of Vancouver and San Francisco, respectively) to chat about swimwear, body image and how they created the perfect swimsuit.
(Editor’s note/real talk: Occasionally, editors receive product to review or write about, which we do if it’s a fit for our readers. However, that’s not how I was introduced to Left on Friday. I discovered the brand completely organically and paid for my new swimsuit. I just really like it and I think you might, too.)
Who is Left on Friday?
The idea for Left on Friday came from a gap the women saw in the market. “We would always talk about what we were missing in our swimwear and how much better we could make it,” says Shannon, who travels often and has spent time surfing in Australia with her husband. (Fun fact: Ireland is also a good surf spot for beginners.) Both women note that they had all these separate swimsuits for different purposes but not one that they loved, looked good in, and that also functioned well for their active adventures (Laura also enjoys surfing, as well as kiteboarding).
And what about the name, Left on Friday? “We did not quit on Friday,” says Shannon when I ask whether the name had anything to do with when she and Laura each left Lululemon. “The spirit of the brand is about always being ready for any adventure. It’s free spirited – going after life and living it to the fullest,” she says.
Confidence is key
“Bathing suit shopping sucks,” admits Laura. The goal for Left on Friday was for women to feel confident in their swimsuits and have confidence in their swimsuits. “They look great and the fit is great [with our suits], but women can also move freely without worrying that their strap is going to fall down or a boob is going to fall out,” says Laura. “We wanted to create that confidence in swimwear and give the ultimate piece of mind so you can be more present with the people you’re surrounded by and what you’re doing.”
The fabric is a dream
Personally, the first thing I noticed when I opened my swimsuit order was how incredible the fabric felt. “When we were looking for a fabric it was important we were choosing something that could stand on its own and cut through the others. We spent about 6 months or so in that exploration stage, reaching out to different mills all around the world,” says Shannon, who has a background in fabric sourcing. “I probably went through 100 different fabrics.”
The list of requirements their fabric choice had to meet wasn’t short. “We wanted support so it needed a compressive feel when it was wet and dry,” says Laura. “We looked at the way it dried, we looked at durability — so, can you machine-wash it? Can you sit on a pool deck with it? We also looked at fading and coverage.”
They finally landed on the Smoothing Dream Fabric from Italy. “You’re like, ‘I just want to put this on my body,’” says Shannon of how the fabric makes you feel. “It’s like butter.”
Classic designs trump trends
The collection currently consists of three one-piece styles, two different bikini top styles and two different bottom styles. The plan is to add an additional style or two, as well as a few more colour options but ultimately, the vision is to keep it a fairly tight assortment with the emphasis on fit, says Shannon. “We want each body type to be able to find their perfect suit within our collection,” she says. “Like a little black dress, it’s the perfect foundational, good quality suit that can appeal to anyone and work for everyone.”
All in one
When I tell Shannon and Laura that I’d noticed some women on social media wearing their Left on Friday suits as bodysuits, I could hear the excitement over the phone line.
“Our tag phrase is ‘Poolsuit, Powersuit, Playsuit’ and the idea that you can have it all in one,” says Laura. “We’ve nailed it if someone can go and swim their laps and then go straight for a hike and then to a barbeque or something that evening and just toss a dress or a pair of jeans on over [their swimsuit]. You don’t even have to change; that ultimate day can be lived in this one suit.”
While I haven’t yet tried hiking in my suit, I did spend most of the long-weekend in it – whether that was in the pool or running around the yard with my daughter. And when I did take it off, it was dry by the time I put it back on (just an hour or two later). Living in your swimsuit — sounds like a good summer day to me.
Next, don’t miss these 15 all-natural Canadian beauty brands. And find out which west coast Canadian city took top honours for quality of living.