Manufacturers Respond to the Demand for Modest Swimwear

June 26, 2009

Author: Michelle Chabin

Source: The Kansas City Star/Religion News Service

Devora, an Orthodox Jewish woman, never felt comfortable in the sleek, revealing bathing suits sold at the stores she frequented in her native France or in her adopted Israel.

While she ordinarily wears fashionable skirts that fall below the knee and blouses that extend to her wrists, Devora, 31, was unable to find a swimsuit consistent with her Orthodox lifestyle.

Her standards of religious modesty extend not only to her wardrobe but also to sharing her full name, lest it draw attention to her and her family.

When the dress she typically wore over her bathing suit got wet, “it became heavy, unwieldy, clingy and transparent. I felt incredibly self-conscious, even while swimming during women-only hours,” she said of the segregated swimming that’s available at some Israeli pools and beaches.

A year ago, Devora heard about a modest-swimwear line called Sea Secret. Designed in Israel by two French-born Orthodox Jews in consultation with a respected rabbi, the company’s long-sleeve, below-the-knee swim-dresses adhere to the strict Orthodox Jewish dress code.

“I bought a swim-dress just before going on vacation last year and found it elegant, comfortable and modest,” she said. “Wearing it, I felt like a role model for my young daughter and comfortable around my young son. Other women saw it and asked where I’d purchased it. I loved it so much I ended up selling the company’s swimwear.”

Modest-minded women around the world are now enjoying a similar sense of new-found freedom, thanks to the recent emergence of several lines of modest swimwear in the U.S., the Middle East, Asia and Australia.