Ibiza style: Tara Matthews swimwear: Cut, comfort & cool factor
Bikini shopping – whether in Ibiza, around the world or online – can be hard. Modern trends don’t necessarily flatter all figure shapes, and when you’re faced with a rack of styles that don’t appeal (in high street stores with bright lights blaring music) and cost half a week’s salary, the choices can suddenly feel quit limiting. Enter Tara Matthews, the luxury swimwear designer who creates beautiful swimwear for real women, in real situations, at accessible prices.
“I don’t really follow trends,” says the talented designer. “The most important thing for me is the shape. I try and do things differently – I make for the body.” Originally inspired by her travels to Brazil, where she found the local women’s body confidence (and we mean real women in the streets and on the beaches, not the odd Gisele or two) surprisingly refreshing, Tara came up with the idea to design a brand around the ‘less is more’ aesthetic, and insisted on using real women as her models, never skinny size 0 waifs.
“I know I have something to suit every body shape,” she explains of her design process. “Swimwear is really tricky – it’s the most you’re going to be naked in front of the general public – and not very style suits every body. To be honest,” she continues. “I can’t wear half the things I make! But I have customers who find the perfect piece for their body and then order it in ten colours because it makes them feel so confident.” Her gorgeous-yet-wearable collections quickly became a hit with real women around the world, with high-end retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Net-a-Porter repeatedly selling out of Tara Matthews swimwear for the past 13 years.
In 2016, Tara brings her gorgeous collection of handmade bikinis (tops and bottoms sold separately, in the understanding not everyone is a ‘perfect 10’), one-pieces and resortwear to Ibiza, available within her pop-up store Rincon by Tara Matthews in Marina Botafoch. Rails of richly coloured, embellished swimsuits sit alongside classic, vintage style pieces in an elegant muted colour palette, plus cool prints inspired by vintage Indian hand-block prints designed by Tara’s family in India over 40 years ago, reworked in modern tones.
You’ll find bottoms with waistbands that can be worn higher, or folded down – ideal for those who may have had a Caesarean or feel less confident about baring their midsection on the beach. Tops range from classic bandeaus to traditional triangle bikinis, with additional versatile styles that can be adjusted to support larger or enhance smaller breasts. One-piece swimsuits vary from classic maillots to backless and side cut-out detailing, and many of the embellishment styles are repeated on both bikinis and one-pieces so women can choose their preferred look and match it to their body shape.
Working closely with a factory in Brazil, Tara’s fabrics are the highest quality Lycra available on the market and her prints are extremely limited and 100-percent unique, with a very small print runs that mean there may only be 15 pieces made exclusively in total. Embellishments are sewn on by hand in India and range from gemstones and beading to traditional embroidery. Not only do Tara Matthews customers receive a bikini that looks well and is completely functional – they also won’t look the same as every other girl on the beach!
“What I want to do is give women the confidence to wear swimwear and feel good about themselves,” Tara says of her design philosophy. “The cut and quality of the fabric is primordial to me – the very last thing I think about during the process is embellishing. That’s an add-on. I also make it a point not to make swimwear with clips, because everybody’s back is different. As much as I like the clips, functionally, they just don’t really work to allow a perfect fit.”
The perfect fit is Tara’s unique selling point, in addition to price points that won’t break the bank – refreshing in a market filled with over-priced, trend-driven pieces that just aren’t created for all women. “I have customers ranging from teenagers to 70 years old,” says Tara. “They might be women who don’t feel confident in a bikini any more but sill want to look sexy in a one-piece, or mums who do want to wear a bikini but need it to be functional so when the kids jump all over them everything stays put! It really varies… some pieces also work well for teenagers who are just starting to develop their own body confidence but don’t want to appear too sexy on the beach.”
In addition to the boutique in Marina Botafoch, Tara offers private swimwear showcases in the comfort of your home, hotel or villa – allowing you one-on-one time with the designer herself, who can advise on the best cuts and colours for your figure, with no pressure under bright change room lights to make a quick decision. She can also create bespoke pieces – simply choose the cut and select a colour from her sample book and Tara creates single pieces to order. Alternatively, she can recreate much-loved swimsuits that have seen better days. “If you have a favourite swimsuit you love and it is falling apart, I can remake it” she says. “I’ll then put your name on the pattern and you can reorder it at any time.” Cut, comfort and total cool factor.