Sirensong fills unique niche
BY NADINE KAM / firstname.lastname@example.org
Jamie DeFay Collins enjoys surfing and paddling, and for most of the year feels at home in a bikini. But when the temperature dips or the water is rough, a wet suit is the way to go, and she always lamented having to don one, not because of the need to cover up.
“I’m really into style. I have a massive bikini collection, and I just find wetsuits boring,” she said. “Wetsuits were originally made for men, and guys are fine wearing T-shirts and boring wetsuits.
“When they started being made for women, they just made a few minor changes, but girls want to look sexy and stylish in the water.”
So Collins set out to redesign the wetsuit to suit her fashion sensibility. A year and a half after stitching up her first one, she has a growing business, Sirensong Wetsuits, to show for her effort.
“I was inspired by swimwear and wanted it to be really feminine. I spent a lot of time looking at dresses and how dresses are made to emphasize an hourglass figure to see where the seams were,” she said. “It was only for me, but my friends were excited about it and that’s how it turned into a business.”
Collins is taking pre-orders for her sleeveless “springsuits,” cropped tops and long-sleeve wetsuits online at sirensongwetsuits.com for $180 to $250, and recently launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign at to raise funds to start full commercial production of her collection in Canada and China.
As of Tuesday night she's raised more than $16,000, surpassing her $12,000 goal. The campaign will continue through June 21, with funds raised also going toward sponsoring aspiring athletes.
Even with commercial production in place this summer, Collins’ wetsuits will continue to be one-of-a-kind as she finishes each with her hand-painted and stenciled designs that resemble tribal motifs.
“I look at each suit as a blank canvas for my art. I use some color blocking with different colors of neoprene, but from the beginning I painted on each one and had no issues with bleeding or rubbing off,” she said. “Certain designs are very popular and people request them, but most are one-offs. People might ask for a design in their favorite color, and I’m very flexible in accommodating them.”
COLLINS, who will turn 35 next month, grew up in Davis, Calif., and learned to surf in San Diego. Beyond the mere whim to redesign the wetsuit for women, she had the proper fashion credentials. She earned her bachelor’s degree in design with a textiles emphasis from the University of California at Davis, a degree that was shelved after she graduated in 2002.
She first tried making bikinis but had trouble getting noticed in the oversaturated marketplace. For the past 12 years she's worked as an environmental consultant — the last five in Hawaii, where living on the North Shore gave her a greater appreciation of water sports.
Collins is especially proud of her springsuits that look like swimsuits and are offered in a choice of “Hawaiian-style, skimpy” bottoms or full coverage for those “who don’t want to show that much.”
She also developed a cropped top for athletes who don’t want to worry about wardrobe malfunctions while on the waves.
For suits that are supposed to fit like a glove, Collins said getting the right fit can be a challenge, but she feels she’s worked with enough bodies to offer four sizes, from extra small to large, with some room for alterations.
“I tell people how to measure, where to measure. It’s difficult, but I’ve done it without ever seeing the person. I’ve shipped to Australia, all across the United States and Dubai.”