Lycra [singlepic id=9712 w=320 h=240 float=right] is not the most forgiving of materials. For those of us who haven’t quite shifted all of that mashed potato weigh off our hips in time for bikini season, new Melbourne brand Billy & Lola may just be the easy, and ecological, way out.
Designer Ruth Ziller had the idea of making retro bikinis out of antique Australian bedsheets while on a “girlie road trip” up the East Coast. Not satisfied with the swimwear choices she found in the commercial coastal outlets, she began picking up old bed sheets at op shops in tiny country towns. “I couldn’t really find [any commercial bathers] that I felt comfortable in… So I thought I’d just make some!” says Ziller simply, “and I’ve always loved old fashioned bathers. I just think that they’re so adorable and really flattering.”
Using the recycled granny sheets collected on the road trip, Ziller made her first collection of unique bathers. Six months later, her first range of 200 bathers in seven different styles have been made available exclusively in Melbourne.
“I wanted them looking pretty old-school,” Ziller explains, “and I just loved the prints and the fabrics. I love recycling, rather than going and getting fabrics that everyone else has got… They’ve all got their own little story.”
Most of the materials that she uses have been collected from op-shops from around country Victoria, where Ziller says she is now known as the “crazy sheet lady”.
“I go into all of these old op shops, and some of them will be a goldmine of fabrics. And they just think I’m a lunatic, and don’t understand why I’m buying it all. I’ll walk out with four garbage bags full!” laughs Ziller.
There are seven different cuts, ranging from a strapless one-piece with a ruched waist, to a fifties style high waisted bikini bottoms with bandeau top. Although this style tends to suit all shapes, it is particularly flattering on those with lots of girly bits. The structured style and full coverage gives the impression of a curvy Marilyn Monroe pin-up.
If you aren’t already sold on the pre-loved environmentally friendly idea, you’ll be happy to know that Ziller is donating a portion of the profit to an Australian marine conservation society that aims to protect Australia’s coast line.
“It’s just that perfect idea that you can walk out onto the beach with your new bathers made out of recycled fabric, and you look around a see how beautiful the ocean is,” Ziller muses. And you’ll be looking just as beautiful.
Wise words by Georgia King
Images courtesy label
This article is the full original written exclusively for StyleMelbourne. A shorter version was published in a later issue of Fashion Journal.