Vital Wetsuits Keera Belviy Gulf Coaster Channels Surf Durability and Ankle Heat
SRQ Review | February 2022
KEERA BELVIY OF VITAL WETSUITS PRE-SURFING WITH HER LONGBOARD TRAINED BY DIMITRI JANSEN OF SKEG SURF. PHOTOGRAPH BY WYATT KOSTYGAN
We are in the middle of “winter” here on the Gulf Coast. Pleasant temperatures are lively and tangy. The average spring/summer bikini just doesn’t cover enough skin to stay in the water for very long before hair-raising shivers from the extremities invite you to rush out and dry off on the hot, dry sand. But winter water games can be easily solved with an extra layer to trap and insulate the wearer’s body heat with thermal protection. Step into a special type of costume that isn’t worn in boardrooms, but rather on the boards. We are talking about combinations. Zoom into the satellite locally and you’ll find Vital Wetsuits. Founded locally by Gulf Coast Gurfer (girl surfer), Keera Belviy left her long and relentless career as a hairstylist in 2019 to create Vital. “I wanted to free myself to serve a larger purpose/mission that better aligned with my personal aspirations,” Belviy shares.
Still struggling to find a well-fitting surf outfit, and not wanting to buy men’s wetsuits that disregarded curves and lack of broad shoulders, his 6ft stature was determined to be that game changer for the surf industry. “Being a tall, full figured woman myself, I was inspired to design jumpsuits and swimsuits that complemented my figure,” says Belviy. “I knew I couldn’t be the only one struggling to find well-fitting water wear. I really find it essential in our times that there is a surf brand that features all women in the water in their truest form.Launched last June, the Vital collection appeals to women of all shapes, sizes and body types, and is specifically designed, with the planet in mind, for Gulf temperatures.
In addition to being a body-positive brand, Vital Wetsuits remains conscious of its environmental impact and carbon footprint – shipping anywhere in North America without plastic packaging. “Starting locally, we did a basic Google search for ‘surfboard makers,’ which led us to a rashguard maker here in Florida,” she says. “We politely asked them a few questions and they put us in touch with a wetsuit pattern maker in California. We hired them to make a pattern for our now Signature wetsuit leggings that I could only dream of, and they kindly put in contact with their overseas manufacturer. They were no doubt our impetus to success with overseas manufacturing. Vital committed to a manufacturer who agreed to use Belviy’s preferred and eco-friendly textile she had in mind: Yulex, an FSC-certified renewable material made from rubber trees, and a stretchable alternative to the widely used neoprene (traditional limestone neoprene uses 23 times more kilowatts to manufacture). already have a partnership with Yulex, and as a result, we haven’t had to ‘supply’ them with this sustainable material,” she says. However, due to recent supply chain delays and demand overseas, Belviy has since had to find another more readily available material that is as durable and long-lasting as Yulex, which has now become ‘unsafe’. As winter approached, Belviy and his team quickly discovered another amazing shell-based neoprene alternative. The textile carrying the mermaid is called Bioprene. “We know the fishing industry creates a ton of shellfish by-product waste that can be recycled into bigger things,” she says, “so we have black wetsuit tops made from that. new material, and we should also have new swimwear items for the upcoming summer months!
Beyond the 2mm-thick material that ultimately keeps dents at bay, Vital’s environmental stewardship can be seen in the interior lining, which is made entirely from recycled polyester and laminated with carbon-based glue. water without solvent. Belviy and his team have even encouraged their foreign manufacturers and suppliers to use as little plastic as possible. “Fortunately, we were able to reduce a ton of plastic waste by requesting that our goods be grouped together in larger quantities, instead of individually wrapped,” she explains. “Even when we ship our goods to our customers, we don’t use any plastic packaging, just paper. And the tape we use is cellulose-based and biodegradable. As eco-friendly as Vital’s collection is from start to finish thin, it doesn’t hurt that it’s also functional and fashionable.The simple yet elegant black designs, equipped with convenient key pockets and that grease-like thermal barrier, Vital proves its vitality for winter wardrobe essentials and women’s water adventures.Whether it’s paddleboarding, wakeboarding, diving or surfing, when the next cold snap of the season hits and the temperature rises. water drops below 70°F, you’ll never again have to complain that your ankles are too cold to hang on for another hour of immersion.