Summer's finally here and that means it's time to hit the beach. And while we're sure your current bikini sitch is totally fine, there's a host of emerging labels that are doing beachwear better. Exhibit A...
Few are doing swimwear better than San Taylor. The label favours honest and raw beauty, delivering an understated collection of swimwear separates. Cuts are minimalist and lines are clean. The range is inspired by the sunbathers of Saint Tropez’s Le Club 55, mid-century Danish poolside furniture by Hans Wegner, and the iconic imagery of Helmut Newton, Peter Lindhberg and Slim Aarons. Pieces are handcrafted locally, with no more than 60 produced per style, and each is individually numbered by the designer herself. Textiles are sourced from Italy, Spain and Australia. This is premium swimwear.
Abysse is for those of you who’d rather spend time in the ocean than shopping for swimwear. More concerned with function than frills, the label offers no-fuss swimwear in athletic designs. Its collection of bikinis, wetsuits and vests is built with 100 percent Japanese limestone neoprene made from eco-friendly rubber. It’s warmer, lighter and more durable than standard neoprene and doesn’t harm the environment. Handmade in California, the range is also fast-drying and UV-protective, designed for use in the sea and on the shore. This is swimwear with all bases covered.
Salt Water Sandals
Salt Water Sandals are more a summer staple than fish and chips on the beach. The brand has just entered its 76th year in the biz, unsurprising, given the quality of its product. Originally made with scrap leather from military boots during wartime shortages, today, the sandals are just as sturdy. All Salt Water Sandals are waterproof, machine-washable and will mould to the shape of your foot with repeated wear. The brand has also re-released its Classic Slide and Salt Water Sandal in a metallic rose gold colourway, right in time for the salty season. Slide in.
Midnight Swim is only in its second season but is already making a name for itself. Created by Australian designer Genevieve Er, the label is inspired by warm, balmy nights and the best beaches around the world. The latest collection brings together athletic and bohemian influences. Think T-back cuts, sporty piping and mesh styles alongside a more relaxed capsule of crochet kinis. Colours span a seasonal selection of burnt orange, wine and military green, with more neutral options included for good measure. There’s something here for everyone. From where we’d rather be.
While most swimwear has the sole focus of helping you look fly at the beach, Isidora offers a lot more. The socially conscious label was born from a love of travel and a desire to effect change. Isidora works with factories in small villages around the world, generating jobs and significantly aiding workers in building micro-economies within their communities. The label is driven by the idea of an endless summer, with a strong emphasis on clean lines and an expansive colour palette. It’s all delivered through a minimal aesthetic and use of luminous fabrics. There’s a lot to love.
Sunday Supply Co.
There’s no better way to spend a sunny day than by kicking back on the sand. But we know Aussie summer is unbearably hot and catching rays isn’t all that good for you. Enter Sunday Supply Co. Straight out of a ’60s holiday postcard, the brand specialises in beach umbrellas covered in unique, vintage patterns. Each brolly is made from lightly-varnished beechwood, UPF30+ fabric and has custom aluminium alloy hinges. And because size matters, the umbrellas feature an extendable wooden pole and two-metre canopy, large enough to fit all your pals underneath.
Swimwear malfunctions at the beach are not fun. If you like to jump in the surf and don’t want to worry about losing your bikini to the waves, Bravura Sydney is worth a look. It offers just the right amount of support and functionality, without compromising on design. Not only this, but Bravura is committed to local and ethical production, keeping quality control at the forefront. If Bravura’s pieces look familiar, it might be because you've seen them on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram. For those who prefer to try before they buy, the brand is holding a pop-up at Power Living Bondi Beach on January 7.
Fiola Rose Swim
When we picture our ideal tropical holiday, we’ve got a coconut in hand, are lounging by the pool and wearing a crochet bikini. Fiola Rose has part of that daydream covered. The label boasts a collection of ethically made, hand-crocheted bikinis and classic lycra swimwear styles. To keep you feeling serene, each piece has a rose quartz crystal sewn in, which is known for its healing properties. Inspired by ’90s styles, Fiola Rose Swim exudes a feminine aesthetic across cuts designed to flatter and enhance curves. To keep up the good vibes, the label also donates $1 from each design to women’s charities in the Philippines.
You mightn't know it but you’ve probably seen Zingiber’s swimwear before. Regularly spotted on celebs (Kim, Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian have already put through personal requests), the Perth-based label is known for designs that push the boundaries of swimwear. Designer Nicola Spicer focuses on pieces that are form-flattering for every body type, with a range of full-support and underwire options. Each design is crafted in limited runs, some as small as 50, ensuring quality and exclusivity. All prints are designed in-house, with high-end fabrics used. This is what summer looks like.
There are a few things that make Zahlo Swim different. Designed by a small creative team on the Gold Coast, this label knows a lot about the beach. Practical and sustainable pieces make up the collection, with hand-painted patterns and prints that are made to be mixed and matched. Each print is exclusive to the label and varies slightly from piece to piece, splashed across materials sourced from small Australian businesses. Zahlo Swim has modernised classics to create pieces that don’t break the bank. Cuts are practical and contemporary. Just like swimwear should be.
Cantik makes swimwear to celebrate femininity. Each collection boasts daring cuts that showcase the uniqueness of women’s bodies, with premium fabrication and quality detailing front-and-centre. The label’s new collection, Artillery, is its first to be made from ECONYL. The fabric is 100 per cent regenerable and recycled from post-consumer waste. In addition to doing its bit for the environment, the label works to empower its manufacturers and employees. Cantik ensures fair wages and good working conditions for all its Bali-based staff. This is swimwear with heart (and booty).
This article was originally published in Fashion Journal Issue 164. You can read it here.