Meet Tai of Tai Swim!
For today’s Feature Friday, meet Tai Truglio, founder and owner of Tai Swim.
Tai and I met years ago (over a decade, we realized) through a mutual friend when we were in elementary school. Several weeks ago, I came across her Instagram account @taiswim.co, and was pleasantly surprised to find out we’ve both made a home on the Windward Side and chosen to start our own businesses.
We run two completely different businesses that are united by a love affair with the ocean.
Oh how the Universe conspires to bring people together exactly when they are meant to!
“Before I could walk, I wore bikinis”
Tai loves the ocean. Nothing makes her happier than a day spent in the sun, soaking up the delicious smells and sounds of the sea. She is, undoubtedly, a fellow Beach Bum.
Tai grew up on the Big Island and has lived on Kaua’i. Her current home within home is Kailua Town on Oahu, where she paddle boards, swims, hikes, surfs, and adventures as often as she can.
“In two words: “affordable and designer”
Hawaii is the land of skimpy cut Brazilian bikinis. When Tai was younger, she would save and save so she could afford expensive swimwear. She saw two options: 1. Highly expensive, designer swimsuits that looked gorgeous but hurt your bank account, or 2. Lower quality, cheaper suits that lacked function and style.
Tai realized Hawaii designs had something special to offer after traveling across the US (to New York City to attend Parsons Design School and then L.A. to finish up her degree). Seeing the lack of options for styles and functionality on the coasts pushed her to re-envision swimwear.
Her local background combined with a professional education in fashion design led to the gorgeous project that Tai Swim today. She decided to create a brand that would allow women and girls to enjoy high-quality, stylish swimwear at reasonable prices. What better way to celebrate the Beach Bum lifestyle than through designing affordable and stylish bikinis in her home?
A Minimalist’s Approach
Tai didn’t just want her bikinis to be affordable. She wanted them to be reliable and durable, staying on through every kind of activity. And, she had to ensure that her suits were environmentally conscious, “long-lasting and multi-functional.”
“Good design speaks for itself”
Clean lines and high quality fabric are the stand-out characteristics of Tai’s kinis. The elegant designs are surprisingly simple, and Tai hand-stitches every sample before production, ensuring they are up to her exacting standards.
While the stitching patterns may be simple, the thoughtfulness and energy she puts into every suit is anything but.
The Tai Swim Spring 2020 Collection
Her Spring 2020 collection includes the “TYLER”, “ALANA”, and “STARR.”
Tai shared the story behind each design with me.
TYLER: “The Classic”
The TYLER is named after her (Tai is short for Tyler) and it certainly is the classic swimsuit. Its thin straps minimize tan lines without sacrificing support and fit for maximum playing in the ocean. A high waisted bottom lengthens the torso of anyone who wears it, creating a flattering and sleek silhouette.
ALANA: “The Sporty”
The ALANA is named after her sister, the serious athlete of the family, who could spend a whole day in a suit, going from hiking to paddling to surfing. The sports-bra style of the ALANA set combines with a reversible bottom to provide even more support and fit without compromising on design or flair.
STARR: “The Trendsetter”
Finally, the STARR set is her most popular design, named after her partner in business, life, and adventure, Austin. Tai and Austin met when she moved to LA to learn even more about high fashion.
Making the transition from the East Coast to the West created the STARR set, when Tai combined everything she’d learned in both cities into a suit. The STARR is simultaneously high-waisted yet skimpy, with a triangle top sans ties to eliminate tugging and lose straps.
Small Batch Bikinis
Each of her collections will be small batch, meaning the TYLER, ALANA, AND STARR are the first of many stories she’ll be telling about her swimwear. I can’t wait to see what she designs next for her Summer 2020 collection!
Forever a Local Girl
Although Tai traversed the United States, her heart has always stayed in the islands. Her line is sold at Kailua Beach Adventures, where you can try on her suits in person to find the perfect fit. You can also order them online at taiswim.co.
When I asked where she envisions her business going, she told me she wants to keep Tai Swim small. Locally designed suits that are small batch and thoughtful is her brand, her lifestyle, and closely connected to her environmentally conscious lifestyle.
Too many companies are looking to raise profits
Tai is sincere about wanting to keep her swim line small. Rather than sacrifice quality, design, and authenticity for higher margins, she’s vowed to grow her business organically. She designates incredible amounts of time for each design, cultivating and planning them accordingly. Her commitment to thoughtful swimwear is reflected in her desire for wearers to see how much thought she puts in every piece.
In this world of fast-fashion, where we’re often forced to choose between high quality with exorbitant prices, or affordable prices that are environmentally detrimental and wasteful—Tai Swim seeks to disrupt that trend.
It’s all about how the bikinis make girls feel
Tai Swim suits make you feel simultaneously glamorous and athletic, ready for an adventure or a day of tanning in the sand. She wants every girl who wears her bikinis to feel confident and stunning, and “amazing in the sun.”
I love Tai’s designs because they are truly an exercise in stunning simplicity. Her suits draw in your attention in with their singular ingenuity, like the crystal clear water on a calm day. Her ability to infuse high fashion into functional swimwear is what really drew me to her collection.
Bikinis: A Love Story
You can tell when someone loves what they do. Tai is a fellow artist and creator in this world. Her creativity is fueled by her love of seeing her art worn by people in their favorite oceans and beaches.
For Tai, it’s not enough to craft bikinis that look good, it’s about crafting bikinis that make us feel good. Her radiant energy is infused into the swim line, with soft pastel pinks and blues that offset any color of skin gorgeously.
Our Happy Place (aka Suit)
We’ve all (hopefully experienced the feeling of finding a tried and true bikini. It’s our go-to suit, the one we always keep in our bag. It’s the suit we wear when the waves are big or small. Or the one we wear when we want to feel gorgeous. Tai’s suits are that bikini.
I understand Tai’s love of bikinis, because she has simply translated her love of the ocean, her love of the planet, into something tangible and real. Living out ones dreams takes a fearlessness and bravery that is inherent to her suits and inherent to Tai.
The Ocean is Home
Tai and I share a deep love affair with the ocean. It’s our place of revitalization, serenity, joy, and freedom. We become most ourselves in the salt water, beneath the sun. It’s so wonderful to see someone actualizing her love into something that is so accessible to each of us.
Bikinis aren’t meant to be hung up. They’re meant to take you to underwater caves and through the crashing waves. Bikinis aren’t just an article of clothing. Bikinis are a little piece of paradise to be worn whenever and wherever you want. Tai Swim’s suits provide exactly that.
“Making bikinis and slinging ’em”
One’s love of the ocean never really ends. Tai sees herself designing and producing small batch swimsuit collections for those who love the ocean as much as she does five years from now. She is already planning her Summer 2020 collection with fervor.
Stay in Touch
If you want to keep up with Tai, head to her website to subscribe to her mailing list and follow her on Instagram. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for Tai Swim suits in other local markets and boutiques. Stay in touch as this lovely lady continues to grow her business and look fabulous while doing it.
Stay salty lovely Beach Bums,