With the rise of slow fashion, sustainability is at the forefront of the industry – and swimwear is no exception. Here are five South Australian labels leading the way.
Coco and Shy
Coco and Shy founder Susi Benger is serious about slow fashion – she makes every single piece by hand with recycled Italian nylon lycra. But sustainability is about more than reducing waste and choosing environmentally conscious fabrics.
“I hope to create timeless pieces with an emphasis on simplicity that will take you from one summer to the next,” she says. Find classic pieces in a gorgeous palette of dark teal, terracotta and peach, with matching baby swimwear, too.
Inspired by childhood memories of endless summer days, Benger recalls playing the game “coconut shy” at school summer fairs – the basis of the name Coco and Shy. “It was one of the only times we would ever have tropical fruit in the small rural town where I grew up in New Zealand. It made me think of summer, and how simple and fun it is when you’re a kid,” she says.
The vibrant, fruity prints on Solomon Street’s fabrics start out as hand-drawn pencil illustrations by founder Lauren Crago. The swimwear is then manufactured by Jem Designs, an accredited ethical manufacturer, with fabric made from salvaged fishing nets and recycled plastic.
“We believe in inclusivity for all, and as the conventional gender boundaries of men and women begin to blur in the fashion industry and society, we wanted to create swimwear that can be worn by anyone, regardless of their gender,” says Crago.
For Crago, sustainability goes beyond the environmental impact, and into the realm of social justice, with a business model based on global micro-lending to help people out of poverty.
Re-Swim Club founder Natalie Ivanov is bringing back the good old days, when things were made to last. “Re-Swim Club has a feeling of nostalgia – I bring elements and shapes from the past and give them a modern tweak,” she says.
With professional experience in manufacturing, Ivanov knows too well the fallout of fast fashion, with excessive waste, intensive energy usage and dead stock. Re-Swim Club was created to push back against fast fashion, using salvaged fabric and reimagining the manufacturing process.
Designs include sleek low-back one-piece suits, cut-out styles and two-tone twist-tie bikinis. “Each piece [is] individually cut and sewn to savour every precious inch of fabric and eliminate waste,” Ivanov says. “As I am also a pattern-maker I can tweak the style or shape of the bather to best utilise my fabrics. Due to my processes my styles and sizes are incredibly limited and often one-of-a-kind.”
Swim Good by Good Studios
“Wearing swimwear is the most naked you are around strangers, so you should feel like its supportive and gives you confidence,” says Any Duff, founder of Good Studios. She’s an industry leader with a range of sustainable and ethically made hemp clothing, bed linen and denim. She also headed up Adelaide’s first-ever Slow Fashion Festival with Natalie Ivanov (Re-Swim Club) and Em Sheahan (The Commons Studio and Exchange).
Her Good Studios offshoot Swim Good is a range of simple, classic bathers that will be in style year after year, making them timeless as well as environmentally friendly.
“As far as our swimwear is concerned, we try to ensure minimum waste in the design, and make it locally in ethically accredited facilities. Our fabric is made from recycled fishing nets and all our tags and hygiene stickers are recyclable.
“To know you’re contributing to raising awareness about ocean conservation is also really important.”
Frock Me Out
Art school friends Jen Weeks and Donna Tripodi couldn’t find anything to wear, so they founded Frock Me Out. “Our focus is on wearable colour, vibrant prints, and classic shapes that are designed to flatter different body shapes,” says Tripodi.
Part of that collection is a range of bright, geometric swimsuits. The cut is simple but classic, with a plunging neckline and a soft halter strap. All pieces are ethically printed and made in Indonesia using natural fibres and water-based dyes.
“We think about sustainability in every step of our design process, from the fabric that we use to the compostable post bags we send online orders in. We use high-quality natural and organic fabrics and recycled nylon for our swimwear,” Tripodi says.
Frock Me Out is at 89 Goodwood Road, Goodwood, and available online.