Shopping for bathing suits can be extremely frustrating when most swimwear companies use a particular size model to both tailor and design their pieces, but not Daniela Stone of DTS by Daniela Stone. The 29-year-old fashion designer from Kingston grew up initially not wanting to design. “I went to school for marketing and did a six month course on free hand. Eventually over time, I started making things for myself. Now, I design and make things for other people,” she said.
As a curvy women, Stone wanted to make pieces for other women that don’t only crave unique and trendy swimwear pieces but want to highlight their inner and outer beauty at the same time. What makes DTS by Daniela Stone a brand to watch is that she is one of the only swimwear companies that uses ankara print throughout all her designs. Similarly, customers and clients alike are able to try on pieces in the comfort of Stone’s store and customize pieces to their liking.
BASHY spoke to the swimwear designer via phone who shared with us how she celebrates Afro-Caribbean culture through fashion.
BASHY: What was the driving force in creating DTS by Daniela Stone?
Daniela Stone: I wanted to create something that I could build from the ground up. Also, making things for myself and owning something for myself was a big part of starting my business.
Discuss the importance of celebrating Afro-Caribbeaness through fashion.
Specifically, I think that generations have definitely changed and there’s been a mixture of vintage with modern flare, so for me, it’s definitely about balance. Back then, there was more coverage (and coverage isn’t a bad thing). I think now, women are becoming much more comfortable with their own skin and wearing things that they may not have worn years ago. I really try to balance what the fabrics mean.
Out of all the garments you’ve made, which is your favourite?
That’s a hard one! I honestly don’t have a favourite garment but I would say that my favourite colour scheme is to work with is black and white. People interpret the two in different ways, which I think is very cool. I go to the beach a lot and don’t often get the opportunity to wear more casual pieces so for me, designing swimwear is definitely my favourite.
Ankara print is commonly used throughout your pieces. What made you decide to use that print?
In Jamaica, there are so many up and coming designers that may use florals, abstract prints or other different types of fabrics, but they don’t use ankara print. I wanted to find a niche, specifically in Jamaica. I didn’t want to do what the other designers were doing. I also wanted to find something that the brand could identify with, and it just so happened that ankara print is just that.
How do you make DTS by Daniela Stone stand out in a field like fashion/swimwear?
As mentioned before, using ankara print is one way that we stand out. Another way we stand out is because we recently launched our first swimwear collection called “Off Shore.” The collection consists of five pieces, currently, but we hope to add two more pieces. Lastly, DTS by Daniela Stone stands out because our customers are able to customize their pieces to the way they want them.
Do you find it challenging to locally source and produce your designs? If so, why or why not?
Locally sourcing and producing my designs can be just as challenging as it is pricy. It can be hard to find the same level of consistency [from] place-to-place. Also, fabric prices in Jamaica are very high, plus you have to factor, maintaining a physical store, etc. Some people don’t value the work that is put in to create a swimsuit. In fact, some people would rather shop somewhere cheaper, even if that means that they are getting a lower quality item. What I make is not factory-made either so that’s an element of the pric[ing] too.
How do you ensure you are designing for women of all shapes and sizes?
Designing for women of all shapes and sizes is crucial. Having a physical store is a benefit because clients can get measured plus, I also have customization options on our website. Preventing people from being body shamed is key. I want to put people in things that will make them feel good about themselves.
If you could see DTS Designs on anyone dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Oprah for sure. She is a phenomenal women. Her body isn’t [the conventional] model size. So if I worked with her, I would want to show that I could design specifically for her and she has a brand that I want my brand and business to be associated with, too.
Where do you see DTS Designs five years from now and how do you plan on getting there?
Two-three years ago, the goal for the business was to have a physical location. We’ve accomplished that. Now a goal that I have is to expand our store, establish another, and have an international brand that is known everywhere.
Finally, right now you primarily design for women. Do you think you would be open to designing for men too?
It is a possibility but not a definite right now. The market in Jamaica for swimwear, especially for men, isn’t that great. Men in Jamaica are only into swim trunks, not speedos, so it’ll be interesting.
Cover image by Romario Lynch