It’s only fitting that retro swimwear brand Camp Cove’s flattering swimsuits and cheeky bikinis are made in one of Australia’s most idyllic seaside towns. But Camp Cove designer and founder Katherine Hampton still looks to the rest of the world for a dash of inspiration.
A team of talented makers work from home in Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast, cutting and sewing swimsuits that are sought after all over the globe. “They’ve got a pretty nice lifestyle,” says Hampton. “They toddle over the road and go for a swim at the end of the day.”
Hampton, originally from Newcastle, launched the first Camp Cove collection in 2013 with the help of her mother, a TAFE sewing teacher. “The beauty of the internet is that someone in that position can start something … and make it look quite professional and reach a big audience without a lot of money,” she says. “It’s grown from there.”
Her swimwear might be all-Australian, but every year Hampton jets off on work trips to Europe or the US to meet with magazine editors, take part in photo shoots, attend conventions – and do a spot of shopping. Later this year she’s heading back to New York and LA. “The photographers and models I’ve been dying to work with are based in those two areas, which makes it easy,” she says. “We’ll probably drive up to Palm Springs to do a shoot because it makes so much sense for the brand.”
Hampton gives us the lowdown on where to shop abroad for women’s fashion.
New York, New York
On her last trip to New York, Hampton created a map of the city’s best vintage stores and set out to find second-hand treasures to use for styling her photoshoots. “In Australia, the vintage market is great, but it’s quite limited. There are only certain styles you can get, whereas in the US, it’s a lot broader,” she says. “I probably went to every vintage store in New York and grabbed whatever I saw that looked unusual and that I knew that I could use down the track.”
She loved What Goes Around Comes Around in Soho, and the Brooklyn Flea, where she found a stall entirely dedicated to vintage sunglasses. “I lost my mind a little bit! In Australia it’s quite difficult to get vintage sunglasses … I spent quite a lot of money there,” she laughs.
Hampton says that LA is a great place to discover small boutiques and young designers. At one store on Sunset Boulevard she spotted a ring by jewellery designer Alana Douvros and immediately fell in love with it. “It was silver, very fine and delicate, with a pair of hands that met in the middle,” she says. “I went to New York after that, and the whole time I was like ‘Why didn’t I get this ring?!’”
Back in LA on the journey home, she had a few spare hours before she had to be at the airport, so she went straight back to the Sunset Boulevard store. “The ring was still there!” she says. “I don’t know what it was about it, but it really spoke to me. I still have it, and I still wear it.”
A surprising find in Greece
“When I’m overseas, I always have a film camera in my bag,” says Hampton, a keen photographer who regularly snaps away in the background at Camp Cove photoshoots.
She was beyond excited to stumble across a film camera store on a Greek island holiday a few years ago. “I managed to get myself a little underwater film camera,” she recalls, the perfect find “when you’re on the Greek Islands and on the beach every day.”
In today’s digital world there’s an art to finding a well-preserved film camera. “You have to look in the right places and there’s a bit of luck involved,” she says. “There’s a growing culture around film and film cameras, so you will find specialty stores from time to time – I just didn’t expect to find one on this tiny island in the middle of nowhere in Greece.”
All the way from LA
LA-based label Reformation is Hampton’s “number one favourite brand” to buy online. She loves the brand’s styling – “they speak about their products in a fun, relaxed way … you can tell it’s a bunch of young girls that are all designing what they want to wear,” she says – and its eco-friendly ethos. Every garment comes with information about water usage and CO2 emissions compared to the industry standard. “Everything they do has a lot of thought put into being as environmentally friendly as possible.”
A similar commitment to sustainability is one of Camp Cove’s core values. Hampton endeavours to make quality, long-lasting pieces that don’t end up in the charity bin a few months after you buy them. Like Reformation’s designers, she wants to “create as little impact as possible on the environment.”
Buzzing beauty products
Cult beauty brand Glossier is another of Hampton’s recent online discoveries. The New York-based brand is an offshoot of popular beauty blog In The Gloss. “They realised they knew what was missing from the market and what people wanted,” observes Hampton. “They’ve done their research.”
Hampton is a fan of Glossier’s branding. “It’s very clean, very straightforward. They’re talking to you in a language that you understand which resonates with a lot of people,” she says.
Her first purchases included a pressed powder, a brow tint and an oil body wash, which she especially loves. “You know sometimes you have a body wash or a soap and you get out of the shower and your skin is drier? The oil eliminates that.”
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