In 2017 Hunter McGrady made history when, at a size 16, she became the most plus model to appear in Sports Illustrated’s famed Swimsuit Issue. But according to the model, something was missing once the size-inclusive shoot wrapped: Away from the team of stylists, she couldn’t find on-trend swimwear in her size. So she went ahead and designed her own.
“I’ve never been able to walk in somewhere and absolutely love every single piece,” McGrady tells Glamour. When she wanted swimsuits with cutouts and low tops, the options in her size were, for the most part, full-coverage one-pieces; straight-sized shoppers, meanwhile, had far more options. “I feel like that’s such a big misconception: that because we have a bigger, curvier body, we should be covered up,” the model says. “I wanted to be sexy and I wanted to feel like I could go out and wear what my size 2, 4, 6, 8 girlfriends were wearing.”
McGrady is turning these frustrations with the swimwear market into action, collaborating with U.K. swim and lingerie brand Playful Promises—the same brand behind Gabi Gregg’s recent lingerie collection—to launch a 10-piece capsule collection, available online today.
All of the pieces in Hunter McGrady’s Playful Promises are available in sizes 12 through 20 , and are all priced under $75. You’ll find a mix of one-pieces and bikinis, representative of the various trends that the model says she couldn’t track down in the plus-size swimwear space before.
“The best thing about this line is we having something for every girl,” McGrady tells us. “We have something for the very feminine, delicate girl.” (A lacy white two-piece.) “We have something for the sexy and strong girl.” (A black bikini with fishnet details.) “We have the girl who’s out on vacation and wants to be chic and lay poolside.” (A red high-waist bikini with a Bardot top.)
To nail the fit of these bare-it-all suits, McGrady explains how she and the Playful Promises team fit the samples on a range of curve models, in various sizes and body types, throughout the design process. “I think that that is so important—otherwise, you’re just sizing up, and that’s when it gets messy.” The collection features several construction details added in specifically to support curvier shapes. For instance: All one-pieces are front-lined with powered mesh, and each top has a sewn-in shelf for comfy bust support.
Launching a swimwear collection felt like a full-circle move for the vocally body-positive model, who says she hasn’t always felt comfortable in her skin. “When I first started modeling, I was a size 2 and I tried desperately to keep that size—and that was something I could not maintain,” McGrady recalls. Her groundbreaking Sports Illustrated shoot and now her first swim line are a testament to just how far she’s come since she began modeling—and how much the industry has changed as well. “Had you told me back then that I was going to be in Sports Illustrated with my own swimwear collaboration,” she says, “I would have laughed in your face!”
Now that models of all sizes are becoming more present in magazines and ad campaigns, McGrady is ready for the swimsuits shoppers can buy in stores to reflect that. And that starts with this collection. “I have so many beautiful women in my life who are a size 14 and above who are strong and empowering and wonderful women, who own their bodies and who are sexy,” she continues. “And you know what? I want to see a beach full of size 14, 16, 18, 20 and above running around [in this collection]. We should be embracing our beautiful bodies as they are.”