"It all started with a swim cap…"
The History of CARDO Paris by Emmanuelle Cardosi
I love to swim and do water aerobics; I spent a lot of time dipping in pools like a tea bag in its cup, and I noticed within the space of a few years, the ready-to-wear brands had developed their own lines of swimsuits (from H&M to Hermès, almost all have their own line of swimwear).
When I was young(er), I had long, thick hair, and I cursed every time I had to yank on those silicon or latex caps that pulled hair from my head and brought tears to my eyes! I wondered when and how, from Marc Jacobs to Jean-Paul Gaultier, someone would take these caps and make them desirable!
It all started with a swim cap…
I was early one day for a water aerobics class and I saw a fellow swimmer doing laps, and I thought that her silicone cap and goggles did not make for her best look! I decided to rectify this injustice by creating a swim cap that would become a must, and that one day you would no longer ask, “Do you have your cap?” but rather, “Do you have your CARDO?”, like the Americans do with their Speedo swimsuits! I wanted it to be fabric, and at least water-resistant.
It took me three years of R&D, all my resources and a large dose of recklessness to plunge into the adventure of creating a product that seems so “simple”, but is really a highly technical undertaking. I presented my idea to the business incubator team at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Textiles de Lille.
I pitched to a group that believed in my project and financed its development…so I made a mold for this cap. I then selected and tested fabrics, to which we added a little magic to be able to shape them…
the CARDO was born.
I needed to design a swimsuit that would match my caps in order to produce a presentation video for my caps. It was the Nevada, the first CARDO swimsuit, that had just seen the light of day and I knew, no I swore, that I would never make swimsuits! My caps were featured in au Bon Marché when they were barely out of the shop, and sales immediately took off. Surprisingly, I started getting orders for the Nevada swimsuit, too, that customers wanted to go with their caps “like in the video!” I refused ten times, twenty times, until I gave in to the evidence: I had to make swimsuits…I who thought only of swim caps!
I always balked at wearing swimsuits from sporting goods stores that seemed to me to be designed by torturers who dislike women, because they’re very unattractive and uncomfortable! The fabrics pinch, the labels scratch, and you can’t easily put them on or take them off once they’re wet, especially when you’re confined in a narrow changing room.
For a long time, I noticed that practices were changing: less emphasis on competition or the record, and more of a quest for fitness and well-being, less of appearing glitzy and more of being elegant and feminine, less training and more social connection.
For years now, you haven’t seen anyone running in a shapeless jogging suit or go to a yoga class in old pajama bottoms: we want fashionable performance garments (even if we’re not athletes!) : “athleisure” is here, and is ubiquitous in every clothing brand.
I designed my swimwear so that women can enjoy training in attractive suits, so they can have appeal and style even at the pool, a place where these traits were cruelly lacking. I wanted to provoke a reaction that I hear often: “These swimsuits make me want to go back to the pool!” Wanting to make suits that I know you will love, I have them made in an Italian shop with exceptional know-how.
I pursued the development of what has become a brand by creating towels in bamboo fabric, and neoprene bath slippers to bypass questionable footbaths. I have other products in development…come back and see us regularly on this site.
Emmanuelle Cardosi is a born swimmer and aqua gymnast. She was tired of wearing ugly and
uncomfortable swimwear. She started her career in Beijing at the French Consulate when Chinese
were still wearing Mao suits. She finally came back to Europe and after years spent as an executive
manager at Disney, Hartcourt Studios of Photography and Alexandre de Paris, she decided to leave her
PR career to start creating swimwear that she would actually enjoy. This is how CARDO Paris was born.
Her company was selected by Innotex (incubator) and by HEC to start her first collection of swimwear.