Aquatic Vitality – SRQist :: SRQ Magazine article by Brittany Mattie

KEERA BELVIY OF VITAL WETSUITS PRE-SURFING WITH HER LONGBOARD TRAINED BY DIMITRI JANSEN OF SKEG SURF. PHOTO BY WYATT KOSTYGAN

We are in the middle of “winter” here on the Gulf Coast. Pleasant temperatures are crisp and tart. The average spring/summer bikini just doesn’t cover enough skin to stay in the water for very long before hair-raising shivers from the extremities invite you to rush out and dry off on the hot, dry sand. But winter water games can be easily solved with an extra layer to trap and insulate the wearer’s body heat with thermal protection. Step into a special type of costume that isn’t worn in boardrooms, but rather on the boards. We are talking about combinations. Zoom into the satellite locally and you’ll find Vital Wetsuits. Founded locally by Gulf Coast Gurfer (surfer), Keera Belviy left her long and hard-working career as a hairstylist in 2019 to create Vital. “I wanted to free myself to serve a larger purpose/mission that better aligned with my personal aspirations,” Belviy shares.

ETHICAL FASHION, FLATTERING SILHOUETTES AND SPORTY FUNCTIONALITY ARE THE KEY COMPONENTS OF THE SIGNATURE TERRAZZO SUN RECYCLED BIKINI TOP AND SIGNATURE ECO WETSUIT LEGGINGS

Always struggling to find a well-fitting surf outfit, and not wanting to buy men’s wetsuits that ignored curves and lack of broad shoulders, his 6-foot stature was determined to be a game-changer for the surfing industry. “Being a tall, full woman myself, I was inspired to design jumpsuits and swimsuits that highlighted my figure,” Belviy explains. “I knew I couldn’t be the only one struggling to find properly fitting water suits. I find it really essential in our time that there is a surf brand that presents all women in the water in their truest form. Launched last June, the Vital collection appeals to women of all shapes, sizes and builds, and is specifically designed, with the planet in mind, for Gulf temperatures.

PHOTO COURTESY OF @VITALWETSUITS, VITALWETSUITS.COM

In addition to being a body-positive brand, Vital Wetsuits remains conscious of its environmental impact and carbon footprint – shipping anywhere in North America without plastic packaging. “Starting locally, we did a basic Google search for ‘surfboard manufacturers,’ which led us to a rashguard manufacturer here in Florida,” she says. “We politely asked them a few questions and they put us in touch with a wetsuit designer in California. We hired them to create a pattern for our Signature wetsuit leggings that I could only dream of, and they kindly connected with their overseas manufacturer. They have undoubtedly been our impetus to success with overseas manufacturing. Vital engaged with a manufacturer who agreed to use Belviy’s favorite, eco-friendly textile she had in mind: Yulex, an FSC-certified renewable material made from rubber trees, and a stretchy alternative to neoprene widely used (traditional limestone neoprene uses 23 times more kilowatts to manufacture). We already have a partnership with Yulex, so we didn’t have to ‘supply’ them with this sustainable material,” she says. However, due to recent supply chain delays and overseas demand, Belviy has since had to find another more readily available material that is as durable and long-lasting as Yulex, which has now become ‘hazardous’. As winter approached, Belviy and his team quickly discovered another amazing shell-based neoprene alternative. The textile carrying the mermaid is called Bioprene. “We know the fishing industry creates a ton of shellfish by-product waste that can be recycled into bigger things,” she says, “so we have black wetsuit tops made from that . new material, and we should also have new swimwear items for the next summer months!

Beyond the 2mm thick material that ultimately keeps dents at bay, Vital’s environmental stewardship can be seen in the inner lining, which is made entirely from recycled polyester and laminated with glue made from carbon. water without solvent. Belviy and his team have even encouraged their foreign manufacturers and suppliers to use as little plastic as possible. “Fortunately, we were able to reduce a ton of plastic waste by requesting that our goods be grouped together in larger quantities, instead of individually wrapped,” she explains. “Even when we ship our goods to our customers, we don’t use any plastic packaging, just paper. And the tape we use is cellulose-based and biodegradable. As eco-friendly as Vital’s collection is slim from start to finish, it doesn’t hurt that it’s also functional and fashionable. Simple yet sleek black designs, outfitted with convenient key pockets and that grease-like thermal barrier, Vital proves its vitality for winter wardrobe essentials and women’s aquatic adventures. Whether it’s paddleboarding, wakeboarding, diving or surfing, when the next cold snap of the season hits and the temperature rises. the water drops below 70°F, you’ll never again have to complain that your ankles are too cold to hang on for an extra hour of immersion.

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