Byron Bay-based designer Casey Eastwell knows well the unintentional exposure a bikini can bring – not least when she’s on her surfboard.
“I spent years traveling and surfing, and I was always looking for surfwear that I felt comfortable, confident and sun-protected in,” she says. “I didn’t want to wear a bikini and worry about getting wiped out and everything falling out, and rash guards were all so bright and unappealing.”
After finding that many of her female friends – surfers and non-surfers – felt the same way, Eastwell left her job as a graphic designer and launched Hakea Swim in 2017.
The label’s high-waisted bottoms, full-coverage bikini tops, form-fitting one-pieces and cropped rash guards are designed for swimming, surfing, or simply to be worn as wardrobe staples.
Hakea’s latest collection, Ochre, is perhaps its best yet. Well-designed “rashies” and surf suits, which double as everyday basics, return in various shapes: a capped-sleeve with cut-out back details, a long-sleeved turtle-neck crop and a popular sleeveless design. They all work just as well on the street as they do in the water, paired with high-waisted jeans or wide-legged linen trousers, and go a long way to anchor a wardrobe with their versatility and usefulness. The thick fabric contours and supports the figure beautifully and blocks out the sun.
Hakea’s palette is inspired by Eastwell’s childhood spent in Horsham, Victoria. “I was born and grew up in a landlocked place and always wanted to be by the ocean,” she says. Now the designer embraces the colours of the arid landscape (mustards, maroons and pinks) she once longed to escape.
“I have always wanted to travel to central Australia and the desert of Morocco, and I channeled those landscapes into the colours of the collection,” says Eastwell.
This sunburnt colour-scheme is also apparent in Hakea’s collaboration with Melbourne-based artist Zev Tropp, which was released as part of the Ochre collection. Tropp’s geometric patterns are printed on surf suits and separates, which were created with recycled Italian nylon made from ocean-gathered waste, a trend quickly gaining momentum in the swimwear industry to help mitigate the environmental footprint of manufacturing.
“I’m conscious of the fashion industry’s impact on the environment, so every piece is designed to last years,” says Eastwell. All pieces are constructed using heavyweight nylon and spandex, which Eastwell tried and tested for 18 months before launching. “I wore them the whole time and they kept their shape so well, I still wear them,” she says.
To further reduce its environmental footprint, Hakea posts all online orders in compostable packaging made by Better Packaging Co.
Eastwell envisions women wearing their Hakea pieces for many years and adventures, both inland and by the beach: “The landscape I grew up in is arid but so beautiful in its own way. That’s exactly how I want women to feel in Hakea: unique, beautiful and resilient.”