When Rosie Iffla and Christine Tang-Corte founded Fella in 2012, the Australian swimwear landscape was dominated by big surf brands and skimpy bikinis.
“The only companies that existed were the giants like Seafolly, Tigerlily, Zimmermann and … surf brands,” Iffla tells Broadsheet. “We felt there was a gap in the market for a smaller brand that focused on minimal lines and quality construction with no frills or unnecessary padding.”
The result was Fella, which is celebrating a decade of delivering sleek simplicity and elevated fabrications – previously only available online and via other retailers – by opening its first physical store on William Street in Paddington.
The boutique – in a heritage terrace – reflects the brand’s contemporary yet classically chic aesthetic. It was designed in collaboration with AP Design House’s Alexandra Ponting.
As a nod to the waves of the ocean, curves feature prominently – such as in the undulating blackened steel railings from which the swimsuits hang and in patterns on the two-tone marble flooring. Rich textures echo the signature Jacquard weaves of Fella swimsuits, from the eggshell render on the walls to buttery soft rugs in the changing rooms.
The store does double-duty: not only is it a space for customers to try on Fella’s pieces, but it also gives the company room to expand behind the scenes.
“We’d outgrown our office and Tang suggested that if we were going to get another one, why wouldn’t we do a store?” says Iffla. “It also made a lot of sense because 70 per cent of our customers in Australia online come from NSW. We wanted them to be able to try on the swimwear, find their perfect fit and size, and also get fitted for custom alterations when needed.”
In-store you’ll find the brand’s core range of block-coloured bikinis and one-pieces, plus a new collaboration with fashion designer Lucy Folk. With smaller production runs than the big swimwear companies you’re less likely to find yourself twinning on the beach with a friend, while the bikini tops and one-pieces are designed to take you from poolside to the bar.
“Our whole concept of the brand was to create pieces that were versatile so you could wear them under a cotton shirt as a pseudo-bra or even as a crop top with wide-leg pants,” says Iffla.
You could easily buy a bikini top, pop it on and take a stroll 100 metres down one of Sydney’s prettiest streets to celebrate your purchase by raising a glass at 10 William St.
“The Paddington architecture really suits our brand as the buildings have beautiful bones, and also 10 William Street just happens to be a favourite bar of ours so that’s rather convenient, too,” says Iffla.
37 William Street, Paddington
(02) 8859 2371
Tue & Wed 10am–5pm
Thu & Fri 10am–6pm