Local designer gives street vibe and comfort to women of all shapes and size in swim and loungewear
Since the start of the pandemic, many have adapted to the work-from-home lifestyle by regularly slipping into posh pajamas and wearing cozy sweatpants. The seismic shift in regular work day apparel was a gift for Suite: A Boutique founder and multifaceted Columbus-based designer Ariana Shaw, who shifted her February 2020 plans of attending fashion trade shows to creating upscale loungewear.
“When COVID-19 hit, all my plans were put on a standstill. I was then asked to make face-masks for family and close friends [but] suddenly I was sewing and selling hundreds per week. In the blink of an eye, I had a sewing business,” Shaw said. Soon after came the cozy loungewear.
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Shaw defines her creative niche as “storytelling,” piecing garments together as an element of expression. Designing for body-positive women who want to be comfortable, the aesthetic of Suite: A Boutique is feminine, luxe, and earthy with splashes of color as seasons change. The On Chill Jogger Set is a taupe two-piece dream, complete with a ribbed cutout bralette and joggers fitting for day or night, while the heather grey Paris Terry Set is athletic-chic with high waist shorts and a snug crop hooded jacket.
“I don’t always like the items in the major retailers within malls, and shopping online can be complicated when you are unsure of your size, and how it will fit. So [my] vision was to provide women like myself with exclusive pieces that make them feel confident and comfortable,” she said. “I try to design and choose pieces that can be worn multiple ways allowing for multiple variable wears. Any [Suite: A Boutique] piece with the word ‘essential’ in the title is not only very comfortable, but also a closet staple because it can likely be styled and worn in so many different ways.”
The business isn’t too far-fetched from Shaw’s childhood ambition of becoming a fashion mogul. Taught to sew by her late-grandmother when she was 8-years-old, the technique came in handy when traction for Suite: A Boutique kicked into high gear. Selling face masks that were branded with the boutique’s logo, word spread about the line and introduced Shaw to a loyal, chic following.
A fashion design graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Shaw actively traveled outside of Ohio after graduation to find inspiration through diverse color palettes and local street art. Following her short-lived face mask line, in early-2020, Shaw released a prismatic swim collection, and her upcoming 2021 swimwear line is an homage to the vibrance of South Florida.
“I really felt like I was walking within my full purpose when I posted myself in a swimsuit I made on vacation and had tons of other women reaching out before I even announced that this was something I was planning to start a brand behind,” she said. “My upcoming swim collection is based on my experience at 2019 Art Basel in Miami, the Wynwood Walls are so colorful and really give off a retro feel.”
As Shaw continues to promote her clothing line through social media and local pop-ups, she remains a firm believer of focusing on her vision to eschew comparisons to other brands. Designing with poise and comfortability in mind, Suite: A Boutique has not only redefined Shaw’s career in fashion, but her terms of womanhood.
“I really design for myself, so that pushed me to be honest with myself about all of my insecurities. Because I am currently the face of my brand, every blemish and flaw is on display,” she said. “I think it’s important for women to feel confident so if i’m going to encourage other women to feel that way, I understand that I must first actually feel confident within myself.”
To learn more, visit suiteaboutique.com.