Pistol Panties is a London-based swimwear brand to know. Loved by celebrities, fashion insiders, and the stylish, expect a range of bikinis and one-pieces that are feminine, flattering, and importantly fun. And excitingly, Deborah Fleming, the founder of the label, has just launched her new ECO Swim range on a freshly branded website. Here, it’s all about product longevity, making use of high-quality fabrics, and on-point manufacturing techniques, which are then applied to classic designs. The result? A long and happy product lifecycle, ensuring pieces are loved and worn for years to come. Just how we like it. Pistol Panties founder, Deborah Fleming discusses her brand, her customer, and her newly launched ECO Swim line.
What inspired you to start your own company?
I started the company 17 years ago when I noticed UK swimwear was purchased for one main reason: “swimming”. As such, functionality came first and the fashion element seemed forgotten. A lack of innovation was clear, right down to color choices which seemed to extend to black, navy, red… and that was it. Growing up in Miami Beach, I spent my summers in Columbia surrounded by a magnitude of confident women in bright colors and vivid prints. Swimwear was a part of life, an integral part of your wardrobe and often, it seemed, the source of confidence for these beautiful women. I began to wear bikinis under my school clothes and incorporate them into my outfits as tops. It was like a secret confidence booster that makes me feel empowered and sexy. Even now, I wear bikinis around the house which always manages to instantly lift my mood – I highly recommend it!! Lockdown was great in a sense as it meant I was in bikini pretty much constantly, even on the occasional zoom call! In essence, I have a huge place in my heart for swimwear. From the fond memories from my childhood to my personal love of donning a bikini. I love creating swimwear as colorful as the women who wear it, giving them a space to feel truly confident whether that’s at the beach or dancing in the kitchen.
Can you remember the first piece that you designed?
Yes! It was Bridget, inspired by the icon that is Brigitte Bardot. Consisting of a push-up sweetheart plunge bikini top with a frilly skirt bottom, it’s clear that my mission to bring fashion to the swimwear market started strong! It was the ultimate bikini; one I had daydreamed about for 10 years! When it was first launched, I would say the brand was born and then there was absolutely no stopping us in terms of creating new styles. The Bridget has been a best-seller ever since and so it only seems right that we bring it back with a little design update for the 2021 eco collection.
How would you sum up the signature aesthetic of Pistol Panties?
That’s so difficult! Pistol Panties’ signature style is so undeniably us that is it hard to put into words. We pull inspiration from so many places and bring an amalgamation of eras, styles, prints, and colors together in a totally unique way, that marries aesthetics that seem completely opposite. We’re a 1940’s curvy pin-up girl who meets a 1990’s, skater girl. We’re Jayne Mansfield meets Gwen Stefani. We’re simply Pistol Panties!
Who do you design for?
This may sound vague, but I design for every woman! The main thing we keep in the forefront of our minds when designing is confidence. Will this swimwear make someone feel gorgeous? Will they feel ready to walk out on the beach and feel amazing about themselves? The answers have to be a yes otherwise it is a no-go!
Everyone has days where they don’t see how much of a babe they are, no matter the compliments they get. We bet even Emily Ratajkowski or Ashley Graham have days like that. And when it comes to swimwear, this can feel can be intensified when only 10% of you is covered! So, we work very hard to achieve the most perfect, flattering shape, whether that be in the dip of a leg, the width of the gusset, or the length of a strap- it all makes a difference. We aim that our swimwear can be the catalyst to help women realize they look damn good!
You’re about to launch your ECO collection – tell us about that…
We reflected a lot in 2020 on who we wanted to be at Pistol Panties and that meant not just being somewhere to pick up some great swimwear but also be a company that takes action and helps to make a positive difference to our gorgeous planet by genuinely upping the sustainability factor. We’re conscious of green-washing; the act of over-selling the eco-credentials of products which is particularly common in the fashion industry. We always want to be transparent and educational in stating that we know that using eco-materials doesn’t automatically equate to sustainability. Our team is pretty clued up on the environment and between us, we have years of knowledge on fashion sustainability, from recycled fabrics to the teachings of scholars. It’s a shared passion! There is also a true problem; over-consumption. Thus, what has a truly strong impact on reducing environmental concerns is extending the product lifecycle, reducing the need for people to consistently buy new garments after few wears. This is where we thrive. Meticulous manufacture, high-quality fabrics (with the added bonus of being made from waste), and timeless designs. Our bikinis can be, and are, kept for years and years and our consumers can testify to that… just ask Rita Ora!
This collection is no different. It’s timeless and less reactive to trends, you’ll never see us partaking in fads or cutting corners when it comes to quality. It’s about making someone feel absolute, perfectly glamorous within themselves each and every time they rock one of our pieces. Made to last, this feeling will linger for years!
Do you have a favorite piece from the current collection?
Well… that’s like asking who your favorite child is, it is impossible to say! This entire collection actually consists of the brand’s favorite, both mine and the best-sellers from the past 15 years. Each style has definitely had its time as our hottest pick, proving favorable with our shoppers and traveling around the globe. If I was absolutely forced to pick one that I have a particular soft spot for, it would be the show-stopping Tatiana. Fearlessly sexy and undeniably Pistol Panties and judging by our tagged posts on Insta, we are yet to see someone who doesn’t look just phenomenal in it!!
How would you like your brand to evolve?
I hope that this 2021 collection is a tipping point for the brand in terms of sustainability. By this, I aspire that the brand becomes ever-sustainable, consistently striving to be environmentally friendly. Being truly sustainable doesn’t happen overnight and we still have a way to go on our ultimate mission of operating with zero waste. Yet, we are excited to have embarked on the journey, already having made major developments. For example, this new collection has already helped to directly reduce the amount of waste in the Mediterranean Ocean. To reduce our global footprint, we look for local suppliers where possible to negate shipping materials between suppliers.
We are all about becoming as sustainable as possible, from design to manufacture to your wardrobe; beginning to end.