Hayley Kiyoko’s Size-Inclusive Kitty And Vibe Swimsuit Line Celebrates Her Community

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Say the name Hayley Kiyoko, and most people will think of songs like “Girls Like Girls” and  “Demons.” But Kiyoko’s art isn’t restricted to catchy hits — the multihyphenate boasts a career that spans acting, writing, and more. Today she is adding a new title to her resume — swimwear designer — thanks to a just-launched Hayley Kiyoko x Kitty And Vibe collaboration. “I’ve experimented and expressed myself through many mediums. Right now, we’re in my swimwear design era,” Kiyoko tells Refinery29. That era is kicking off today, June 11, with the Palm Dreams collection.

The size-inclusive swimwear company — which has previously collaborated with Nicole Byer — appealed to Kiyoko after she learned that it makes bikini bottoms for different butt sizes: “I basically don’t have a butt, so when I discovered that, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, do you mean that I could wear a bikini and not have a saggy butt? Like I need to know who these people are,’” says Kiyoko.

The collab combines Kitty And Vibe’s fit expertise with Kiyoko’s love for color and prints. From modern takes on tie-dye to sporty neon styles, the collection, which ranges from size XS to 6X, evokes a laid-back West Coast vibe and nods to Kiyoko’s California roots. (The prints — or, in Kitty And Vibe parlance, “vibes” — are named after beach spots in L.A.)  It also includes different coverage options, from tiny triangle tops and string bikinis to full coverage one-pieces, making the collection even more inclusive for shoppers with different wants and needs for swimwear.

“We designed patterns from scratch. This was my very first time going through this designing process and every single detail was thought of,” says Kiyoko. “The pieces all cohesively work together, and you can mix and match [them], which is something that I intentionally wanted to do.”

The decision to launch the 20-piece collection during Pride Month was also intentional. “I have always yearned for opportunity and equality and feeling worthy and having a sense of belonging. That feeds into everything I do creatively,” says Kiyoko, exemplifying the type of care and consideration that earned her a fiercely loyal fanbase. “I love celebrating with my community, and I felt like it was a wonderful time to bring people together and have size-inclusive bikinis and one-pieces… I’ve just felt a great alignment in timing.”

Read on for more of what Kiyoko has to say about her style, designing her first swim collection, and how comfort and confidence go hand in hand.

How would you describe your style and how did that translate into the swimsuit collection?
I love mismatching patterns. I love color. I love something that feels unique and my own. So I tend to always seek that, and I definitely felt that as we were designing the patterns for this swimwear line. Like, chartreuse is one of my favorite colors, so making sure I have hints of that throughout this line. It’s a combination of patterns and color but also comfortability. My fans see: I’m always in sweatpants and sweatshirts! I want to feel comfortable, because when I feel comfortable I feel confident. 

How has your style evolved through the years?
With seasons in life. Sometimes I want to show more skin; sometimes I want to wear baggy clothes. But I think there’s always been this throughline of wanting to feel comfortable and to wear something that feels like my own.

As soon as you allow yourself to be your true authentic version, the sky’s the limit. I feel like once I allowed myself to be who I was — sometimes feminine, sometimes masculine — I felt like my range of style allowed me to feel free and to blossom. 

So what season of life are you in right now?
I’m in a place where I feel like my life is finally aligning; I feel this really powerful alignment. For so long I’ve just been banging on doors that were closed. I released a song “Greenlight” last year, and I had this epiphany: I’m going to stop banging on these doors that are closed, and I’m going to go where the green [light] is. I’m going to go where I feel ease, where I feel supported. And that mind shift has really changed my life. Feeling support, where I can feel free and thrive — that’s what I’ve been craving. Sometimes that lends to music, sometimes that lends to writing a book, and now it’s designing swimwear with Kitty And Vibe.

Why did swimwear feel like the right collab for you now?
I was super drawn to the fact that Kitty And Vibe are size-inclusive, and also the company’s mission of “Kind is My Vibe.” I’ve been working to be kinder to myself. My body and weight fluctuate a lot depending on what I’m going through. It’s important to be able to say positive things and create a space in my mind that feels safer to me. So it just kind of aligned where I was like, “Oh, I really love what Kitty and Vibe are doing and I would love to collaborate with them.”

You’ve talked publicly about struggling with internalized body shame. What has been helpful for you when it comes to improving your relationship with your body?
Everyone has a different approach. For me, I’ve tried to cultivate the fact that my body is a vessel and my body is doing everything it can to show up for myself. I’ve dealt with a lot of health issues throughout the years and, again, my weight fluctuates a lot due to that. So I’ve had to learn to love my body for where it’s at in the moment and be grateful that it’s showing up for me in whatever way it can.

I’ve been cultivating this relationship with my body, and envisioning my body as its own person. I want to take care of that person; I want to be kind to that person; and it’s not helpful to just put that person down every single day. I think once you realize that you have to work together, body and mind, you’re able to work more as one.

What do you hope to convey with this collection? 
This collection makes me feel so great and comfortable in my skin, and I hope it does for so many of my fans and Kitty and Vibe supporters. I think bikinis and one-pieces can be daunting sometimes, and so to find swimwear with patterns and colors that make us feel confident and make us feel good just makes the sunshine a little brighter. I believe that we should be able to find bikinis and one-pieces that fit our body types, and so I’m so excited for my fans to get to experience Kitty And Vibe.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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