Custom Swimwear by Exelnt Designs Promotes Body Positivity

Forty-five years ago, a woman started a business to make any woman want to put on a swimsuit.
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Customers can work with Trish Crowder’s team to customize a swimsuit that suits their bodies perfectly. // Photograph by Sal Rodriguez

Soon, bikinis and beach-to-brunch cover-ups will start to flood stores and social media feeds. Swimwear, with its bright colors and saucy cuts, is one of the more jovial nods to summertime — for some. For others, the idea of shopping for and trying on a suit can bring with it some anxiety. Because women’s bodies are as varied as the prints, not everyone can grab a suit off the rack, trust that it will fit beautifully, and toss it into their carry-on.

For more than four decades, Custom Swimwear by Exelnt Designs has been working to facilitate poolside confidence, no matter the size of the wearer’s bust or the curve of their hips. Pop into the shop, located in Royal Oak since 2017, and you’ll be met with a small traditional retail space offering a mix of trendy and classic swimwear and accessories from popular brands like Michael Kors and Lulu-B. Farther back are lengthy racks of sample suits and precut patterns, rows of fabric rolls, and a half-dozen or so sewing stations.

Owner Trish Crowder says for customers seeking a custom design, it typically takes just one appointment for consultation and fitting. Most, Crowder notes, opt for tweaks to one of Custom Swimwear’s premade swimsuit samples, but her team can also work with the client to design a suit from scratch.

“A customer goes to [a typical] shop, and by the time they get it to fit them in the belly or the butt, it’s way too big across the chest or in the arms,” she says. “With us, you mix and match your sizes, even on a one-piece.”

Whether that means tightening the elastic at the leg holes or lengthening the midsection, “it’s all about the fit.” And once the designers have nailed the perfect fit, each customer’s pattern details and measurements are saved to make for an easier experience season after season.

Custom Swimwear has also made a name for itself among brides- and grooms-to-be, designing custom matching swimwear for couples and even the whole wedding party.

Think bachelorette and bachelor parties or destination nuptials.

The business that started from Crowder’s apartment back in 1979 has expanded and evolved over the years, but Crowder — a petite, energetic kitesurfer — has remained steady in her commitment to celebrating women’s bodies.

Her philosophy is that confidence goes a long way toward helping you make the most of those delicious summer days.

“If you feel comfortable in your swimsuit, you will do things; you’ll go places. You’ll be willing to go on the boat, you’ll be willing to go to the pool party, and you’ll be excited to go because you won’t know which swimsuit you want to wear because you’ve got two really cool ones.”


This story is from the March 2024 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition. Plus, visit hourdetroit.com for even more Metro Detroit shopping news