Ethically and locally made, Tilly & Co. Swim is the Bellarine-based, size-inclusive swimwear label to know this summer

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Ethically and locally made, Tilly & Co. Swim is the Bellarine-based, size-inclusive swimwear label to know this summer

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Words by Talia Rinaldo

With a focus on uncompromising quality, timeless beauty, and sustainable manufacturing, Tilly & Co. Swim creates practical and flattering swimwear for every woman.

Ocean Grove’s Christie Forde is liberating women with a new swimwear collection that is not only function, comfortable and sustainable, but flattering and beautiful too.

Motivated by her self-consciousness in a bikini and frustration with the limited swimwear options available for bustier and larger body types, Christie launched Tilly & Co. Swim.

“After having two babies by c-section, my body has changed quite a bit. I found it really hard to find swimwear I felt beautiful in, and because of that, in the last 3.5 years, there is only one photo of me in a swimsuit with my son,” Christie explains.

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With an affinity for sewing passed on from her mother and late grandmother, the idea to make swimwear that suited her body started as a space for creative self-expression but has morphed into a label with a decidedly slow ethos and a dedication to female empowerment.

“I wanted to find myself some swimwear that suited my body type and shape, as well as being sustainable and not fast fashion. This is when, it just made sense to me to focus my skills on creating handmade, sustainable swimwear, for everybody,” she says.

“Tilly & Co. Swim was created to empower women, to make them feel beautiful in their bodies, to custom make swimwear to suit them and their body shape and style, whilst supporting the cleanup of our oceans and helping every person feel better about the choice they have made, knowing they are supporting a local business and a range of sustainable Australian businesses that supply my products.”

Catering to bodies of all shapes and sizes, Christie has focused on contemporary design, eschewing the uninspiring, uncomfortable, unsupportive and daggy swimwear for bigger women that dominates the market.

Making every single item by hand and to order, Christie balances flattering shapes with the need for support and comfort, catering for sizes XXS to 3XL and adjusting the pieces to suit each woman and their unique and beautiful bodies.

“I will be working on expanding those sizes, but am more than happy to work with individuals to make swimwear in their size,” she says.

“I can adjust the pieces to suit longer torsos, broad shoulders, or like myself, I have a larger waist size than hip size, so I can adjust the patterns to fit our bodies in the most flattering ways.

“A great option I have is to lengthen items in my range. For instance, I can customise the coverage of bikini tops or the height of high wasted bottoms if you would prefer a more conservative piece.”


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Tilly & Co. Swim pieces have been designed with the helping of summertime nostalgia in mind. Soft tones and soft details with of-the-moment cuts, inclusive and flattering fits whisks you back to lazy afternoons and balmy nights of summer’s past.

Currently, Christie has designed seven different cuts of bikini tops, two full piece styles and six different bikini bottom styles, including a cut made especially for mums-to-be.

“I also have a variety of styles including one-pieces, high wasted, two pieces and rash tops. My ultimate goal is to provide an option for everyone.”

Colour choices range from timeless classics like black, white, burnt orange, dusty rose and rust, to more delicate florals, we reckon this line is the perfect choice for those who like to customise their perfect set. Everything is priced between $65 and $145.

With summer on the Bellarine Peninsula reminding Christie of the very real impact of climate change, skipping fast fashion for swimmers that put the environment front and centre, especially our beautiful beaches and oceans, just made sense.  

“After having two children, I became more aware of things such as low tox lifestyles and the impact we are having on our planet. I became concerned for the world my children and my children’s children would be living in. Also living in such a beautiful part of the world, seeing the impact dumping has on our oceans, I started to look into alternatives in my day-to-day life that meant I could make a difference,” Christie explains of the sustainable mindset that launched her brand.

All of Tilly & Co. Swim products are made from 100% recycled plastics, harvested from our oceans and turned into a beautiful recyclable swim fabric that can be recycled again and again. The swimsuits are all UPF50+, ultrachlorine resistant and don’t change shape over time.  

“I researched the options available to me and was able to source two suppliers of recycled swimwear fabric. The appeal behind these companies is that both provide material that was once fishing nets, that littered our seas.

“So when you are wearing a Tilly & Co. Swim piece, you are wearing something that was once a danger to our wildlife in the ocean but was rescued and repurposed into the beautiful recycled swim fabric our garments are made from. This also means that the swimwear itself can one day be recycled if need be.”

Delivering ethical practices in all facets of the business, any product that you received with your Tilly & Co. Swim order is either recycled, recyclable, compostable or reusable, including the packaging, care instructions, and mailers. Leftover fabric is also made into scrunchies and ties.


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It’s clear Christie is serious about slow fashion – she makes every single piece by hand with a beautiful recyclable swim fabric, fabric that’s ordered on an as-needed basis. But sustainability is about more than reducing waste and choosing environmentally conscious fabrics.

To avoid falling into the common fashion trap of churning out brand new pieces each season, she designed reversible, multi-piece suits that can be styled in different ways to look like brand-new combinations.

“I thought about other ways for me to be sustainable with the swimwear, it made sense to me to make all of our pieces reversible. The plus side to this is that you essentially get two or more looks out of your item, also reducing the need for multiple pairs of swimwear.”

When it comes to picking your next go-to cossie, we reckon it pays to buy less and choose well—and choose sustainable swimwear like Tilly & Co. Swim.

Shop Tilly & Co. Swim via the website and keep up-to-date with the latest news on Instagram.