There are a few things that all women feel are daunting tasks: finding the best pair of jeans, the right pair of heels and... swimwear.
I have never heard one woman exclaim how excited she was to go bikini shopping. When I need to shop for a bathing suit I feel like it was the sandwich the day before that causes me great angst; like it's the bread's fault that I am 41 with a post-3-kids body... isn't it?
I can't stomach a one piece. I love them on the models in shoots, essentially the young and slim...but women with extra L.B's in a one piece look like wrestlers. Sorry but it's true... But it does come down to what you are comfortable in - maybe some women want to look like wrestlers? I will rephrase a little: some of the unique one piece designs with the origami twists and folds that flatter tummies I say ok, but the sleek simple designs like the original Speedos...These clearly were designed for the sleek swim club member.
I worked on a campaign shoot recently for Belicious Swimwear, my agent fandangled a couple of bathing suits in with my payment - I am thrilled that they did.
image source: Belicious Swimwear photography: Peter Lau hair & makeup: Andrea Claire
If you live in Singapore you are lucky because you can get sized up by Kate herself. Not in Singapore? Don't fret as Belicious Swimwear is found outside of Singapore and growing in popularity.
Why do I love Belicious?
First - it's nice to have a woman with a real body sell you a bathing suit. And just like my first Brazilian -toss shy out the window as Kate adjusts you in the suits as you try them on. She asked me first so if you are shy no need to fear her as she doesn't get all handsie with everyone. No cigarette required post fitting.
The unique thing about her tops is that they can be adjustable - there is a slider or tie depending on the style which helps with the cup area - on days you feel you want more coverage at the family-friendly resort perhaps or slide them down for extra exposure when you are feeling little sex on the beach.
Second - what an amazing experience shopping in her studio vs my last experience at Takashimaya where two of the sales staff felt compelled to hover over me and then proceed to look me up and down and start speaking in Chinese as they were staring at me.
Customer service #101: Don't do that.
Of course if you don't speak the same language at all that is a different story but switching to another language after addressing your customer (me) in perfect English = Bad Sales Ladies -BAD!!! Sure, they could have been talking about their lunch or how stunning I am... But I will never know and I will never buy another overpriced bathing suit from Takashimaya ever again 100% because of this. Frankly, if you want to speak ill of a customer, wait until she leaves. After I paid I said thank you and good-bye in Mandarin which is about the only thing I can say but my accent is perfected and those ladies had horrified puzzled looks on their faces (the same expressions my kids get when I am one step ahead of them) so I may be paranoid but at the cash desk my paranoia got a little validation.
Back on the Belicious track:
Belicious Swimwear is made for every woman. With the variety that Kate has in her designs, not to mention the support for the girls (your boobies), amazing solids and patterns I would bet there isn't a woman, shape or size that wouldn't find some thing here. Kate tests every material and dye lot too making sure that colours don't run and that the materials are salt-water and chlorine resistant.
More Customer service tips:
Do NOT take an item from your potential customer, return it to the rack as you tell her that it's not big enough.
Of course I have a story: I was in Calvin Klein in Raffles City (Singapore) - I wear a number of his bras -love how they fit me. I grabbed a new style to try - the salesclerk took it from my hand and replaced it back on the rack and pulled a larger size. I took my size back and told her that I own many CK bras -this was my size. She was very rude and I finally put everything back and told her that she needs to learn how to speak to customers she replied 'Well Madam you need to learn your bra size.'
PS CK: I haven't entered your shop since this happened. Let me know how insulting your customers is working for your sales.
(Maybe Belicious will venture into lingerie since they clearly understand how support works with the girls and with customer service.)
DO offer to be nearby just in case she requires another size. Do NOT add the word 'bigger' - it is possible that a customer may need a smaller size.
DO without looking at what size your customer grabbed say 'Just to make you aware, we have had feedback that this item runs a little small (or big)'
DO NOT offer an opinion unless asked for it. You have no idea what your customer is thinking. Best to ask them what do they think, then work from there. And if a client is unsure I bet they are looking to break out of their comfort zone with what is usually in their wardrobe so ask if this is an adventurous silhouette for them and then perhaps offer some items to try versus pointing out any negative.
When a customer is trying on clothes telling them clothes look unflattering will only deflate her - speak into the positive and follow the lead of your customer - if she puts herself down don't you dare agree and DON'T you dare make her feel bad.
I now have just resorted to telling these types of rude sales staff to fuck off - harsh yes, but I am a little tired of the whole bitchy shopgirl routine and they clearly don't want feedback to better their sales tactics.
Go into Karen Millen at ION - best customer service -you can tell by my VISA bill.
Sorry ranting on...
And for f*ck sakes - all you ridiculous companies having 'Big is Beautiful' events: Stop it!!!
Where the f do you think following big with the word beautiful makes it better??? We don't have 'skinny is beautiful' or 'average is beautiful' events - we call those fashion shows - no matter what your model types are or what clothes they are wearing: if a train of women are showing off clothes to potential buyers it is a Fashion Show. Period. End of story. Women and media who attend shows generally know by designer or shop name who the target audience is so pointing out the obvious can sometimes be insulting.
If we are going to cater shows to a specific target then I want to see a 'soccer moms are beautiful' event: Chinos, bright polos, big hair and Coach bags! Settle down soccer moms, I was just kidding! You do wear JCrew sometimes.
How about: Diversity is beautiful - there, was that so flippin hard? No, didn't think so.
Read: The F Word Essay in Allure by Jennifer Weiner. Brilliantly written. I teared up. Read this to your daughters but make sure that if you are an adult mean girl you absorb the message first.
Follow people I admire for standing up for changing what society tries to tell us is normal:
Dr Ben Barry
Walk The Catwalk
Faz Abdul Gaffa
And me of course! ;)