The Bikunu range includes boardshorts and bikinis, and they have proved a hit with naturists especially.
“They cannot be naked all the time, and so they turn to our costumes to preserve that all-over tan,” said Luc Dessauvages, 58, who formed Bikunu with his wife Alexandra in 2021.
“That’s been a surprise. We thought our first buyers would be people like us who spend a lot of time on and in the water, but as soon as word got out, we had lots of naturist customers, as well as people with swimming pools who spend much of their time outside and don’t want white marks.”
The couple, who live near Cannes, tried costumes from abroad that claimed to allow all-over tans, but found them uncomfortable or transparent. Then they discovered a material patented by a Dutch company that filters UV, blocking the most harmful rays. It means you can tan underneath while still enjoying some protection from the sun.
“We like to think we are the first in the market in France,” said Mr Dessauvages. “It has been a steep learning curve and swimming costume design is more complex than it first appears.
“We also had to experiment with colours and inks to find ones that allowed attractive designs without interfering with the tan.”
The fabric is manufactured in Germany but sewn into costumes in France. Boardshorts cost from €90 and bikinis from €120.