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Beth Richards: Making Waves in Swimwear and Social Liberty


A series in which we show up to the studios and workspaces of our favorite creatives to discuss their cultural contributions in style, art, and design. Beth wears the Jefferson 2.0 Liteknit in Jiffy Black: a new Future Classic slip-on made from a foot-forming, breathable knit.

Beth Richards is making waves far beyond the fashion industry. Now in the seventh year of producing her self-titled swimwear label, the designer has joined a growing number of brands in speaking up for political reformation, launching the Censor Project: a funding effort for female equality through the Gloria Steinem foundation. Creating contemporary swimwear with a high attention to structure and quality, it’s no surprise that Beth looks to iconic names like Céline and Prada for design inspiration. This season Beth lends her Italian fabrics and Make Waves mantra to a special Native Shoes collaboration.

On designing for a category that women have a complicated relationship with:

I wouldn’t say the way women feel about swimwear works back into the design as much as I would say I’m always designing to fit women’s lives. I definitely want her to feel comfortable and confident, so the details should reflect that. I am always trying to balance fashion and function.

On what has changed in swimwear since launching in 2012:

A lot has changed in a short period of time. Certainly the most obvious is the way we shop; we’re buying online but still want an offline experience. I still approach each suit aiming to bring something new and interesting to the design, and having a customer see herself in the pieces and keep coming back is not something I take for granted.

On the importance of the Censor Project and using brand voice to fight for political causes:

It’s important to use your voice and platform in any way possible. I think most of us realized just how volatile democracies are around the world and the need to protect them. We consider ourselves very lucky to live in Canada and want to give back to women who don’t have the same resources that we are granted. Gratitude is important in any business.

On her Spring 2018 collaboration with Native Shoes:

‘Make Waves’ was a slogan we started using in 2014 and has become part of the brand ethos. It refers to making an impact in life, design, or politics. I’ve always loved the quote, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” It’s in the same vein. I love both shoes and that they serve different moods — one is sporty and the other feminine. I love the Audrey Bow in black but wear the slides often; the fact that they’re lightweight and waterproof make them perfect travel companions.

On moving back east after launching her brand on the West Coast:

I consider myself very Canadian. Torontonians are notoriously hard workers but I’m blended with a West Coast chill that I hope to keep. BC has a different relationship with nature and I owe a lot to Vancouver as Beth Richards wouldn’t exist without it. I look forward to more travel and exposing new people to the brand.

On other labels paying keen attention to fit and silhouette for women:

I have favorite designers that I will always look to, like Miuccia Prada and Phoebe Philo, but I also love Demna Gvasalia — he has an interesting point of view and brilliant styling. As much as it could be easy to dismiss, the Olsen sisters have a lovely take on silhouette and shape. And fellow Canadians, Beaufille, are doing great things on the international stage.

Spencer LX Make Waves Shop Audrey Bow