"The surfing industry ignores the needs of women with big boobs – So I designed my own surf bikini"- Alexa Hohenberg
We're thrilled to partner with Alexa Hohenberg in development of the Alexa Top, a piece designed specifically for bigger busts. Read the story behind her namesake top below!
A waste of time and energy; that pretty much sums up my experience while bikini shopping. As I scan the racks packed with the new seasons bikinis, ready to be let down yet again…
“Nope. Nope. Ahh so cute but will never fit. Nope. No chance. Aw cute but my boobs will fall out the side of that. Nope. No way you can surf in that. Hmmm maybe. Yup, yup, gonna try this one… please fit!
It never fits. Ever.
Shopping for a surf bikini (or pretty much any bikini in fact), when you have big boobs and a small rib cage is IMPOSSIBLE. It is literally the bane of my existence. As someone that spends pretty much every second in a bikini when not snowboarding, living in sub-zero temps or pretending to adult in an office, bikinis play a pretty important role in my life.
I can’t wait to see girls out in the line up across the world ripping in a bikini they feel confident and comfortable in.
Many readers of Still Stoked discovered the website after stumbling across one of many reviews of surf bikini brands and styles that I have put to the test. The result of over 20 in-depth write-ups on brands from Roxy to Rip Curl, to the cool independent brands in-between, is I now know what works. Not just what works for my body shape but what works for a surf bikini. Or a bikini that you want to and CAN move in. Not just a bikini for frolic on the beach as Billabong suggested in their advertising and got a red-hot scolding for.
As one of the lucky athletes on the Sensi Graves Bikinis team, Sensi and co were sending me these gorgeous styles each season. Sadly, each season, I would send them back to the US. They didn’t fit.
Then one day Sensi asked me to design my own bikini so she could confidently add a style to the range that was not only big-wave-bombproof, but could cater to active women like myself, who the entire mainstream surf industry has been ignoring.
The design process was really inspiring:
So what is different about this bikini?
Shoulder and rib straps are all adjustable.
The main thing is that I have designed it so you can have it as tight around your ribs or neck as you need it to be. That was always the issue with other bikinis. The cup of a large would fit but then I’d raise my arms up and it would rise up over my boobs… or I’d fall out the bottom of it. You can have it as tight as you need it. This works for girls with a wider rib cage also.
Inch-wide shoulder & rib straps.
We made a concerted effort to distribute the heavy load of big boobs on the shoulders, by introducing thick straps.
I once tested out a bikini that quickly became one of my favourites. Yet, I was completely let down by the strap design in both comfort and durability.
With just one single line of stitching, the straps would cut into me and leave marks that looked like I had been whipped. They fell apart as that one stitch broke with the first tight tie of a bow across my ribs.
With The Alexa bikini top, we made a concerted effort to distribute the load that the shoulder bears when supporting big boobs, across a thick strap. It is incredibly comfortable around your shoulders as well as your ribs. I even wore the top to circuit training the other day… Trust me, that’s saying something!
Thick, doubled-up quality lycra
I hate padding in bikinis. It’s great for the support but it’s such an unnecessary addition, especially if the support issue can be solved by design tweaks elsewhere. Using a thick quality lycra and doubling it up proved to provide enough support when your boobs bounced. So much more comfortable and flattering then having foam padding stuffed down your top.
Triple back cross back design
While testing out bikinis on Still Stoked, it became obvious that the two best styles for surfing were either cross back (to provide additional support across the chest) and shoulder straps as opposed to a halter neck. The challenge that girls with big boobs face, is they need that support to be wider dispersed than girls with smaller boobs. This is why we did a triple cross back. It offers the best type of support while reducing the need for the shoulder straps to ‘pull’ your boobs up, which can be very painful.
I thought of how rad Sporty Spice looked in crop tops in the 90s!
Simple. Functional. Fuss-free. I thought of how my sports bras fit when I designed this bikini. I also thought of how rad Sporty Spice looked in crop tops in the 90s! I received the final version of The Alexa bikini while I was in Japan on a 3 month snowboard guiding contract. Far from surf sessions in the warmth I tested it in the gym, at yoga, in the pool and just wearing it under my clothes as a sports bra. It passed all the tests. Sensi Graves herself said it is bomb-proof. I couldn’t agree more.
We went back-and-forth on the samples until we were happy with how it was sitting.
The whole process of designing a surf bikini for girls with big boobs and smaller rib cages for Sensi Graves Bikinis has been an incredible experience. I’m really proud of how The Alexa top has turned out and am really looking forward to surfing in it every day when I leave the sub zero temps of Hokkaido Japan for a the right-hand point breaks of Cloud 9 in the Philippines.
If there are any additions you would like to see in The Alexa top for next season, I’d love to hear from you. Please let me know how you get on with it. I can’t wait to see girls out in the line up across the world ripping in a bikini they feel confident and comfortable in.