Think bra cup sizes, but for your butt. That's the unique sizing metric Cameron Armstrong invented after years of trying on swimsuits that never fit quite right. The 25-year-old designer behind inclusive swim line Kitty and Vibe, Armstrong wanted to avoid a particular faux paux that most shoppers are familiar with.
“I was in that research phase in fall 2017 and I was just like, ‘Okay, I’ve never had a swimsuit that doesn’t sag on my ass, what is the issue here?’” she tells Bustle. “I was measuring, and the biggest differentiator was the inseam size — it’s actually the crotch. I [thought], ‘This is baffling, why has nobody ever paid attention to this?’”
When the inseam should be longer, Armstrong explains, it’s usually due to one of two things: The wearer has a bigger butt, or they’re taller. Oftentimes, they'll end up with plumber's butt if there’s not enough fabric to cover that space.
“For us, the difference between the two sizes is for every hip size, you have two inseam options,” she says. “We market it as ‘smaller booty’ or ‘bigger booty,’ and that has proven to work.”
One of her favorite data points is that the Kitty and Vibe consumer base is split nearly down the middle between the sizing options.
“If you look at the sales split of the bikini bottoms across all hip sizes and just within that one range — so shorter inseam, smaller booty versus bigger inseam, bigger booty — it is 47-53,” she shares. “It’s such a proof of concept that this extra metric was needed. It’s literally half and half of who has a shorter inseam and who has a longer inseam.”
Before launching Kitty and Vibe, Armstrong held a full-time position in marketing at L’Oréal. Like many young entrepreneurs, she juggled the demands of her day job while getting her business off the ground. For six months, she worked with a manufacturer to develop the products and finalize the fittings.
In May 2018, Kitty and Vibe went live and soon after, Armstrong quit her job. Though she knew she had a groundbreaking idea on her hands, she still had her reservations. “A lot of times when you’re starting something new, you’re not supposed to know everything,” she says. “I started with a blank slate. I felt nervous about not having the design and fashion experience.”
It was a risk that paid off because nearly two years later, the brand — with swimsuits available in sizes 00-26 — is resonating with shoppers everywhere.
“They truly feel like they’re wearing a friend when they wear their Kitty,” Armstrong shares. “I think it’s because traditionally, swimsuits [can] have such a negative connotation in your mind. But a Kitty is [designed] for you to really love yourself and your swimsuit.”