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Unique Body-Positive and LGBTQIA2S+ Lingerie Retailer Opens in Calgary [Photos]

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A new lingerie boutique store has opened in Calgary, catering to all women and LGBTQIA2S+ people of all sizes, with a mission of embracing and celebrating inclusion and diversity.

Body By Chai, which is owned and operated by Chai Swinton, has launched in Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood along the 17th Avenue S.W. high street.

“Body by Chai’s concept is unique because we are an appointment-based, one-on-one lingerie experience where you have complete privacy during your fitting. Each appointment is personalized, and we make it all about the customer, no matter what their size may be — I love how we offer real sizes for real people. Our offering includes Canadian brands, as well as international brands and sizing,” said Swinton. “It’s fabulous because the sizing goes from A to an M Cup and band sizes from 28” to 48”. This may not be a unique size range to the savvy lingerie consumer, but the concept is unique because of the attention and service you receive.”

“This concept has been on my mind for 10 years, and I’ve been working in this industry for almost 12 years. What I felt was missing in the customer experience was consistency, knowledge and care, whether it was at a big box store or a specialty store. I wanted to create a lingerie experience that combined all of these elements into one welcoming environment. Thankfully, I have accumulated the experience and knowledge when it comes to brands, fabrics and fit. I also have the ability to connect with every client very intimately because it’s just me and them.  And that’s something you can’t get everywhere. This is the gap in the lingerie market I’m hoping to fill.”

Image: Body by Chai

“The shop is also a really comfortable place where a partner or friend (or a few friends) can join you. Typically there isn’t a place for your guest to sit and relax, so I wanted to create an environment that felt like a cozy living room next to your dream lingerie closet. So that’s what I did.”

For the time being, she will have this one store but her next step is e-commerce. That will be an interesting initiative given that the store concept is all about the experience.

“We offer virtual fittings and are able send orders to clients all over Canada. Body by Chai has the ability to nail that fit every time,” said Swinton.

“The other piece is being a safe and inclusive space. We are the only truly inclusive lingerie store in Calgary. Size inclusivity in the lingerie industry has been positively changing in the past few years, but and I am proud say that we are the only WOC-owned lingerie boutique to openly cater to the LGBTQIA2S+ community, in which we were honoured with an international award from the Best of Intima Awards. The inclusivity award that we won was the first of its kind, and it’s an honour to pioneer an award that will hopefully continue from this point on.”

Image: Body by Chai

“Everyone is welcome in our store: All gender identities, all sizes, all races, economic statuses and abilities. I thought it was important to highlight this, given everything that’s been happening in the world finally coming to light about inclusivity. We need to bring this to the forefront and make sure it is known that everyone is welcome.”

Based on an ‘appointment only’ structure, clients have the comfort of knowing that they get a private shopping experience working directly with Swinton. The appointments can be booked online at bodybychai.com, or for last minute availability clients can check the website or Instagram @bodybychai.

The boutique, designed by local award-winning design company, AV Designs, was inspired by Swinton’s vision of a place that invokes feelings of confidence, comfort, and fun. She said the white interior creates a feeling of calm, hits of pink add a bit of softness, pops of black a little edge, and the wallpaper in the changing rooms is an “unexpected delight.”

The overall space is eclectic and posh while still remaining a welcoming space for anyone walking through the door, she said, adding it provides the ideal backdrop for the thoughtfully curated inventory of hand-picked brands.

Image: Body by Chai
Image: Body by Chai
Image: Body by Chai
Image: Body by Chai
Body by Chai
Image: Body by Chai
Image: Body by Chai

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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