As a taller woman, Naomie Caron has long had trouble finding clothes that fit. That source of frustration led to her studying fashion in Montreal. “I thought, ‘Why not create it myself?’” she says. Caron grew up in a business-savvy family—her mother is a serial entrepreneur—and she spent a few years after graduation figuring out her calling. “Fashion design is a competition,” she says. “There are a lot of people and noise, so it can be hard to find yourself in all of that.”

Caron’s inspiration came when a client requested a made-to-measure swimsuit. “I asked around and learned that it was actually an issue to find a well-made, sustainable and ethical swimsuit that’s also flattering,” she says. Not long ago, most swimsuits were also sold as complete sets. “Our bodies have so many different shapes—your top could be a [size] large and your bottom could be a small or vice versa,” says Caron. “I realized that the industry was built in this very rigid form and mostly by men who see [women] in this Barbie shape.”

After teaching herself the ins and outs of swimwear design and pattern-making, Caron founded Selfish Swimwear in 2018. Each piece is made right in the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood workshop using high-quality recycled-fibre Italian nylon. With the goal of having the swimsuits last at least five years, the brand also offers in-house repair services and alterations. To complement the beloved core collection of styles and prints this summer, Caron is developing a ready-to-wear collection of loungewear and beachwear items that are “comfortable and easy and feel fresh.”

Naomie Caron

Since opening the store last fall, Caron has helped more than 200 customers find their perfect fit. For her, the product isn’t the main focus but an add-on to the true mission of the brand: to change the perception that women have of their body. The shopping experience can be deeply personal and emotional. (“Sometimes I feel like a therapist,” she says.) She hopes that Selfish will eventually become a place where people feel safe and empowered and can explore their relationship with their body. “Some people come into the store crying, and then they leave with a smile,” says Caron. “That feels really good.”

Inner Confidence

“I want our customers to see themselves as beautiful and stop telling themselves that they can’t do this or they can’t wear that because of their age or size. They’re [creating] their own boundaries, because nobody [else] sees that—[other people] only see the confidence and love they give themselves. In 2024, we can’t continue making things just to make things. We need to provide value and bring something that will help society change or become better. It comes back to listening to [my] customers.”

Me Time

“I want to show that Selfish isn’t just a swimsuit brand—it’s a way of thinking. When you hear the word ‘selfish,’ it’s about thinking about yourself first and thinking about the love that you should give yourself. Sometimes it’s good to be selfish. For example, my clients are usually parents; with their focus on children and family responsibilities, they lose themselves. It’s healthier to stay in that mindset of ‘me’ and take care of your mental health.”

Body Positivity

“At the end of the day, what I’ve realized is that with the society we were brought up in, how we, as women, see ourselves physically affects everything we do in life: how we choose our career and how we choose our partners and our friends and everything around us. I think about the statistics of how many women go through bulimia and anorexia at a young age because of the [belief] that we should be a certain body type. It’s about changing that and stopping all that nonsense.”