Support, Comfort, & Style: How This Plus-Size Swim Brand Is Changing The Game

Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
Olga Caro was shopping with her nieces when she realized there were limited swimsuit options for women with a certain body types. Not cool, right? So Caro, a Colombian-born model-turned-designer, decided to take things own hands. On Wednesday, she launched her first company, Alpine Butterfly, a plus-size swimwear line — with a pretty good Instagram feed — that makes you think of romantic sunsets and tropical beaches — an intentional nod to Los Angeles, the city Caro now calls home. Ranging from sizes L to 5XL, Alpine Butterfly features bikinis and one-pieces in pretty, super-feminine prints.
“I was definitely inspired by my nieces and their confidence,” Caro told Refinery29 of the offering, which is priced from $100 to $180. “However, during the process of building the line, I was continuously discovering amazing girls and creatives through the body positivity movement and social media that I used as inspiration," including Eva Kay Serres, Bree Kish, Oolesya Raspanova, and Anita Marshall, the stars of the brand's first campaign.
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In an industry that still refuses to acknowledge such a large customer base, it's exciting to see labels like Alpine Butterfly emerge, breaking notions that plus-sized clothing can't be on-trend and stylish. Click through to learn more about Caro, and how her brand is empowering women to love who they are.
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Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
Tell me about your background. How did you decide to launch Alpine Butterfly?
"I'm originally from Colombia, where swimsuits are very important to us — they're basically a uniform! I always knew at one point of my life I would love to start my own line. After having both of my kids, my husband and I moved to California, where I pursued modeling. Soon after, I booked a Guess campaign and decided to exit the industry since it's extremely competitive. It's not the most ideal for my family's lifestyle. I felt confident that it was my time to start my own company, and swimwear was my goal!"
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Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
Where does the name come from/signify?
"The alpine butterfly loop is a knot used to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope. As women, we represent that power, and when we come together, we can create beautiful things. Alpine Butterfly celebrate women feeling confident and sexy. We believe women are strong and support each other."
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Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
What women did you look to as inspiration for the collection?
"I was definitely inspired by my nieces and their confidence. However, during the process of building the line, I was continuously discovering amazing girls through the body positivity movement and creatives through social media that I used as inspiration. I look up too so many women such as Tess Holliday, Amanda De Cadet, and all women who acknowledge that together we are stronger."
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Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
What was the biggest challenge in creating such an expansive sizing range?
"I had five fit models that were all different body types considered plus-size, and there was a lot of back-and-forth with our sample pieces because, to me, it was so important to have our suits fit right and and make you feel great. We would have to change things all the time which is very expensive, but important. I knew that investing the time and quality to the product would really allow me to stay true to my brand. It was a more of a personal challenge. Curvy girls deserve to have options when it comes to buying a cute suit."
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Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
What was the most important factor when designing the pieces?
"I definitely think fit, and cute prints are always a must. Of course, the right cut never hurts to spice things up — but in order to add all the stuff, you have to have a great fit to your suit."
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Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
When did you realize the plus-size market (and particularly the plus-size swim market) was missing something like this?
"After going on a shopping trip with my niece and seeing the quality of the only options out there for her I felt sad. That's when I decided to shift the idea of having a swimwear line to just being a plus-size line. I think more people in the industry need to get in touch with reality and the fact the average women is anywhere from a size 12-16. If you have a platform, why not use it? Change is needed."
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Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
Why do you think the industry is still so slow to embrace such a large group of women?
"It seems like a lot of brands are almost afraid to step into the plus-size industry because of the same reasons women feel trapped by beauty standards. Fear is a crazy emotion, it seems to stop people from taking any risk. To me, plus-size clothing and showing different sized women is not risky or brave, but uplifting and inspiring! I think if more brands embraced this movement they would find so much more success and be moved to tears, just like I am every time women express their gratitude for a line that makes them love their own bodies more."
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Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
How do each of the women in the campaign embody the Alpine Butterfly philosophy?
"All our Alpine muses are strong, confident women invested in spreading body confidence and self-love. We had such a beautiful time all together, the glam squad, models, and creatives — by the end it felt like a sisterhood. This particular part of the industry (curve) is so special! Celebrating all types of women creates a really lovely atmosphere. Any model involved in an Alpine shoot is going to experience that love and be a part of spreading it out in the world."
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Photographed by Kimberley Gordon.
How do you hope that your brand influences other designers?
"We think women will buy [our [product] because they feel great, and finally, brands are starting to get on-board with that message."
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