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Canarsie-based Swimwear Brand Creates Affordable, Sustainable Luxury for All

Almost Nude by Nia Nicole champions inclusive and ethically-made swimwear.

Nia Nicole Gordon — founder of the swimwear brand Almost Nude by Nia Nicole — never envisioned herself as a designer. The Canarsie local went to school for journalism, knew next to nothing about fashion, and wanted to work in broadcasting when she graduated.

However, that all changed in 2020 during her junior year of college when her friends invited her on a birthday trip. 

“It was my 21st birthday, so my close friends from college, they're like, ‘Nia, let's go to Miami to celebrate,’” Gordon told BK Reader. “I was trying to find bathing suits, and I was just like, nothing is fitting — especially in my chest area. It was just really disheartening because you have certain styles you want, and you just want to feel comfortable. I like how bikinis fit, as opposed to one-pieces. So I was like, let me see if I can try to make bikinis that would make me feel comfortable.”

Almost Nude bathing suit. Photo: Provided/Yanni BK.

She researched on YouTube creators with videos documenting their experience sourcing fabric and making manufacturing choices.

Finally, armed with the know-how and a desire to better serve diverse bodies, Gordon reached out to a manufacturer in Bali with the first design.

“When I first started, I wanted to have different bikinis and one-pieces in an array of skin tones, kind of like how foundation is,” Gordon said. She wanted her swimwear to look and feel like it was disappearing into a person’s skin.

The fabric she uses is made from recycled water bottles and is durable and ethically made. She selected a few skin tone-inspired colors that ranged from light to dark. 

Before she knew it, she was running her very own swimwear brand. She launched Almost Nude by Nia Nicole in 2021 with her first design, a one-piece suit that comes in various skin tones and sizes.

Almost Nude began as a pandemic project. After the lockdown ended, Gordon was going to go back to school but her mom, Sheila Gordon, encouraged her to start her swimwear business and helped bankroll Almost Nude.

“She's been so supportive since the beginning,” Gordon said of her mother.

Despite the fact that bikinis aren’t necessarily what you wear on an average Brooklyn block, Gordon said that the way she runs her business has been influenced by her Brooklyn roots.

She spent some time away from home for college but has since returned to Canarsie, and loves being back. She said the way she advertises her swimwear is pure Brooklyn. 

“I feel like a lot of Brooklyn style… influences our brand,” she said. “Like, at our last shoot, a lot of the girls have on sneakers.”

Nia Nicole Gordon. Photo: Hannah Berman for BK Reader.

Swimsuit prices start at $20. The brand currently offers sizes XS–3X. Gordon is adding sizes 4X and 5X soon. 

“It's really hard, because, everyone tries to tell people to support small business, but how can I, if you don't have my size?” Gordon said. “Or, you know, people want to be more sustainable, but when you don't have brands that are inclusive, then people just go to Shein and go to fast fashion, because they have larger sizes.”

This summer, Almost Nude’s new offerings include a “Camp Nude” bikini, which features a camel print design that layers different skin tones. This design also offers full chest coverage, and its thick straps are designed not to cut into your skin. Almost Nude will donate part of the "Camp Nude" collection proceeds to SCO Family of Services to benefit local families in need.

For more information, click here

Hannah Berman

About the Author: Hannah Berman

Hannah Berman is a Brooklyn-born freelance writer. She writes about food, culture, and nonprofit news, and runs her own grumpy food newsletter called Hannah is Eating.
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