Chromat Is Rewriting the 'Pool Rules' With Its Latest Swim Campaign

New York–based swimwear label Chromat has long been committed to radical inclusivity, from its diverse Fashion Week casting to its use of curvy mannequins to create truly size-inclusive samples. With its latest campaign, designer Becca McCharen-Tran is pushing on industry conventions once again, looking beyond the runway to where customers actually wear her designs: the pool.

Chromat released a photo series in which it proposes a new set of Pool Rules: Intolerance Not Tolerated, Body Policing Prohibited, Scars and Stretch Marks Welcome, All Abilities Accepted, Food-Shaming Not Permitted, Body Hair Appreciated, Celebrate Cellulite, No Age Restrictions, Respect Preferred Pronouns, and Unrestricted LGBTQ+ PDA.

“I just really loved thinking about all the messaging we see around summertime, and how it can be such a vulnerable time for people—I wanted to make a campaign that really celebrated all these amazing trailblazers in the fashion industry,” McCharen-Tran tells Glamour. Bringing this edict to life are the brand’s Babe Guard—models Denise Bidot, Ericka Hart, Mama Cax, Emme, and Geena Rocero; all of the models that appear in the Pool Rules campaign have worked with Chromat before, at some capacity, “and they all represent a certain type of advocacy to change culture and push the culture forward,” she says.

Chromat worked with creative agency Berlin Cameron on this campaign, marking the first time the indie brand collaborated with ad professionals. Their goal was “to change the traditional pool rules for mass representation this summer and create something truly impactful,” says Jennifer DaSilva, president of Berlin Cameron and the founder of Girl Brands Do It Better, an initiative within the company that focuses on female entrepreneurship to “grow the women-driven economy and close the gender gap in the leadership and investment communities.” McCharen-Tran developed the 10 “rules” and the messaging with Berlin Cameron, and then sent it to friends, colleagues, and even the models, asking: “‘Does this sound right?’ ‘Am I saying anything weird?’ ‘Am I overstepping?’ ‘Am I not saying enough?'”

“We wanted to create a campaign that allowed us to show off Chromat’s amazing swimwear in a way that also hit on the radical, inclusive values of the brand,” Kristy Heilenday, Berlin Cameron’s senior art director, says. “Every swimming pool has a poster of their rules, so we decided to take that and reimagine the rules to speak to something more meaningful.” DaSilva adds: “With our reimagining of the average ‘Pool Rules,’ our goal was to create a campaign that showcases the swimwear while staying true to the progressive spirit that’s at the heart of the brand, letting go of the standard ‘no horseplay’ in favor of new rules centered on self-love, boldness, and acceptance.”

“As a fashion designer, as a swim designer, we have a lot of responsibility to put out imagery that we want to see, that really reflects the people in our world and [doesn’t] just ascribe to this narrow definition of what a beach body [looks like],” says McCharen-Tran. “We recognize the aspirational nature of swim campaigns, and we want to change that, to open up this aspiration and this dream to more people.” She first became cognizant of these “ideals” when she was a teenager, and it was something that made her feel apprehensive about becoming a designer. “I’ve always thought that if I did enter fashion, I would want to make it in a more open and inclusive way,” she explains. From the very beginning, that meant casting people in her community (as opposed to professions) as her models, and committing to racial and body diversity in every aspect of her brand, especially as the company grows and is able to give back to the community, by hiring female, femme, or nonbinary creatives to work on campaigns, for instance. “The goal is for inclusivity to not even be a press message—this should be the norm.”

Ahead, read Chromat’s new “Pool Rules” in full.

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