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wiorItís no secret that for women, the process of selecting, buying and wearing a swimsuit is one that can be difficult, frustrating and uncomfortable. For many years swimsuits were made simply of stretchy material cut into different shapes and sizes with very little structure or support.

Clothing designer Carol Wior was well aware of this problem in the 1980s when she became fed up with having to tug and pull at her own swimsuits to keep them in place and cover her where she wanted them to. A natural problem solver, she had begun a clothing company of her own a decade earlier at the age of 22, with a tiny budget of less than $100. She purchased three second-hand sewing machines at an auction and set to work in her parentsí garage in Arcadia, Calif., where she specialized in making affordable, designer dresses which she delivered to customers in a milk truck.

While her business was a success, she did not launch herself into fashion superstardom until 1990, the year she was awarded a U.S. patent for a unique, one-piece swimsuit she dubbed the "Slimsuit."

The Slimsuit was the product of nearly two years and more than 100 swimsuits worth of research, design and redesign. The suit includes a built-in lining and support structure that helps hide what women refer to as their "problem areas," such as bulges in the stomach, bust or derriere. Wior's design builds shape using innovative construction and underwires to smooth bulges, provide support where women need it, and stay in place.

Wior began marketing the suits with a promise that they would take an inch or more off the waist; she also included tape measures with the suits to encourage women to verify for themselves that this was true. The carefully engineered suit earned Wior U.S. Patent #RE33406 and won her inclusion in the Smithsonian Institution's "Mothers of Invention" tour in 1999.

Meanwhile, the Slimsuit was an immediate hit and caused the entire swimwear industry to take notice. National media attention led to thousands upon thousands of sales, with publications such as People, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire featuring Wior's designs and television programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, and QVC mentioning the Slimsuit by name. Wior was also invited to participate in a number of "before and after" makeovers on programs such as the ABC Evening News and the Tonight Show.

Today, the Slimsuit, manufactured in the United States by Wior's Bell Gardens, Calif., company, is sold by a variety of retailers nationally in more than 85 designs. The Slimsuit is also available online. In addition, Carol Wiorís daughter Niki Wior followed in her motherís footsteps to design a swimwear collection of her own, the Niki Wior Swimwear Collection. The younger Wior also runs the Los-Angeles-based Much Love Animal Rescue organization.

[June 2007]

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