There must be something in the water. What exactly causes Australian swimwear labels to flourish so? On an international stage we are nominated as up there with the best, if not the unchallenged champion. Indeed, it’s hard to name a behemoth surf label that isn’t ours (and that isn’t being ripped off from the market-stall lined shores of Phuket to Bali). Even the more fashion-focused togs of Zimmermann, Seafolly, Flamingo Sands and Jets have been dominating the beach style stakes for years. And swimwear is the one area of fashion where Aussies will happily choose to wear locally designed or made labels. Perhaps it’s the fact that so many of us live within an hour’s drive of our nearest beach?
That kind of immersion in and access to the culture of sand and surf certainly inspired Melbourne’s own self-proclaimed bikini queen, Zoe Weir. Weir created her eponymous label, Zoe Elizabeth, in a turn of events that many of us daydream about but few truly have the Chutzpah to act upon. Simply put, despite searching and searching and trying bikini after bikini the designer couldn’t find anything acceptable for herself – specifically a cotton version, because it “feels wonderful on your skin” – so off she went to RMIT to learn the fashion biz.
The label came to fruition in 2005 when Weir set up a stall at the Camberwell markets and began selling to family and friends. Now, after five successful years of working out of her studio in Richmond, Weir has stockists up and down the eastern seaboard, from Sorrento to Port Douglas (as well as and online). The most valuable lesson the 20-something designer has learnt along the way: “you learn from your mistakes! It has pretty much been trial and error with Zoe Elizabeth.”
Weir’s aesthetic has always been inspired by her formative years spent splashing about in the shallows at Portsea, as well as by the swimsuits her grandmother made. As such her collections have a running vintage feel and are awash with Liberty of London prints, polka dots and profusions of florals in rose, daisy and pansy. In keeping with this vibe and aesthetic, the current Zoe Elizabeth collection is fashioned from 100% cotton, which in swimwear is something of an acquired taste; because there is no stretch a fabulous fit is crucial. Yet the look this natural fibre gives is currently on trend with a resurgence of the nostalgia factor in fashion.
Despite this, fresh from her latest shoot – involving baby animals (“It was divine!”) – Weir lets us in on the secret that Zoe Elizabeth will be introducing lycra to her next range to cater to demand. Also expect to see an expansion of her ready-to-wear pieces such as “matching shorts, fitted shirts, dresses and cute cardigans” which will be particularly suited to a Melbourne clientele as our thermometers can plummet rapidly even during summer evenings.
You can find Zoe Elizabeth bikinis at: