Five Australian swimwear brands to hit the beach in this summer
With 85 per cent of the population living within 50km of the coast, Australians are in the perfect position to gauge what is the coolest thing to wear over the summer. Here are some of their most influential swimwear designers today
Australians live for the beach and the pool – 85 per cent of the population lives within 50km of the coast. The country boasts more than 10,000 recorded beaches and over 1.2 million backyard swimming pools, reportedly the world’s highest per capita ownership of private pools.
Although both have long since moved into offshore hands, two of the world’s most iconic surfwear and swimwear brands – Quiksilver and Speedo – were born in Australia. In 2014 luxury behemoth LVMH snapped up a 70 per cent stake in Sydney swimwear brand Seafolly, Australia’s largest swimwear brand, which sells in 41 countries.
Of course, it’s a lot easier to launch a swimwear brand these days than when Seafolly debuted in 1975. For starters, you can now use Instagram, whose monthly active users grew by 789 per cent to 800 million from 2013 to 2017.
Coincidentally, the past decade has also witnessed an explosion in new Australian swim brands, which don’t need much of a travel budget to be able to produce their own aspirational, Instagram-worthy images of pretty girls in bikinis in spectacular locations. Getting your product onto the ultimate influencers, the Kardashian-Jenner clan, offers next-level exposure. More than one new Aussie swim brand can tick this off their wish list.
Here’s a round-up of five new Australian swim brands to launch since 2014, their founders a combination of It girls and fashion insiders, second- and third-generation dressmakers and even a property developer.
How does an under-the-radar swimwear designer attract attention? If you’re Bianca Elouise Anstiss, the Gold Coast-based former pro surfer, you take your line of scandalously high-cut, cleavage- and booty-baring thong swimsuits and bikinis to the world’s biggest swimwear event – the Miami Swim Show. Then you flaunt your bodacious curves in the products yourself at the beach in between appointments. In July 2016 the internet went wild with paparazzi images of Anstiss in her Myra Swim brand.
It was launched in 2014 and was inspired by bold 1980s/1990s swimwear cuts as seen on beach goddesses such as five time Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover star Elle Macpherson (the brand’s signature “Elle” maillot remains a bestseller). Coupled with some PR outreach to top stylists, this unleashed an avalanche of Instagram selfies from celebrities in the brand’s bold, minimalist styles with a seamless finish and earthy colour palette. Paparazzi images helped to amplify the coverage. Emily Ratajkowski, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Karrueche Tran, Sofia Richie and Blac Chyna are fans. Available at myraswim.com and a dozen Australian and international stockists.
Hot on Myra Swim’s heels is Aexae Swim. It was launched in 2016 by 21-year-old Sydneysider Amelia Perez – who says she was taught pattern making by her grandmother, a former seamstress for the governor of Brazil. The brand has a similar, seamless-finish offer of super high-cut one-pieces, bikinis and one-shouldered tops in a palette of block colours, with slightly more coverage and at a lower price point. Perez also promotes herself in the label to her 100,000+ Instagram audience.
After similarly hooking up with a Los Angeles-based publicist, Aexae Swim has been photographed on names including Alessandra Ambrosio, Bella Hadid, Chanel Iman, Shay Mitchell, Sofia Richie and Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, with coverage in British and Australian Vogue and Glamour UK. Kim Kardashian has been photographed in both white and black versions of Aexae’s bestselling beach-to-bar “Mercedes” bandeau top, teamed with leggings. Available at aexaeswim.com and thebarebody.com.au.
Co-founded in 2014 by Sydney-based business and life partners Tuyen Nguyen and Michael Lim – before being catapulted to prominence by a New York Times profile in 2016 – Her Line was designed as a counterpoint to the plethora of fussy swimwear styles groaning with either feminine ruffles or athletic detailing.
The brand bears more of a resemblance to minimalist lingerie in fact, with signatures including retro-chic high-waisted briefs; triangle or bandeau bikini tops; and sleek ballet leotard-like maillots. The pieces are crafted from high-quality European materials and come in a sultry palette of block colours. Made-in-Australia is part of Her Line’s pitch – born into Sydney’s Vietnamese manufacturing community, Nguyen was taught to sew at a young age in her parents’ tailoring studio.
However, the Australian-born duo maintain strong family links to Hong Kong. Nguyen’s parents met in Hong Kong after initially migrating from Vietnam, with Lim’s family migrating to Hong Kong and Macau from Guangzhou. Available at Her-Line.com and Ssense.
After three years in development, former Vogue Australia junior fashion editor-turned-New York-based freelance stylist Ilona Hamer launched her own minimalist swimwear line called Matteau Swim in late 2015, together with her Sydney-based sister Peta Heinsen, a media and marketing executive. The first collection consisted of three sleek briefs and tops and one maillot in black, navy and khaki, all sold as separates.
It was accompanied by a knockout black and white lookbook shot by French photographer Alexandra Nataf on rising Australian actress Phoebe Tonkin, co-star of US teen vampire TV sagas The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. Nataf is Hamer’s other business partner in biannual art/fashion title Unconditional Magazine, which also launched in 2015.
Stockists list includes Net-a-Porter, Matchesfashion.com, Browns, Farfetch, Lane Crawford and Moda Operandi, with media mentions in US, German, Dutch and Australian Vogue, Pop Magazine, Self Service and The Gentlewoman. The brand has been seen on Hailey Baldwin, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Gemma Ward, among many others.
Men’s swimwear in Australia tends to be dominated by surfwear or else brands making tightfitting Speedo-like men’s swim briefs – which Australians affectionately refer to as “budgie smugglers”. Enter former property developer Richard Jarman and his luxury men’s resortwear line Commas. Launched in 2016, Commas was one of eight emerging Australian menswear labels chosen for the “Guest Nation Australia” showcase at Pitti Uomo in Florence last June.
Made in Australia and just launched onto its first international stockist, Matchesfashion.com, Commas offers simple silhouettes in high-quality European fabrics and mix-and-match original prints.
The spring-summer 2018 collection includes a sheer cotton shirt, its signature tie-front swim trunks and a series of silk blend Hawaiian-look print shirts in an emo colour palette. Commas is selling its men’s swim briefs direct to customers, Matchesfashion.com apparently having a no budgie smuggler policy for now, according to Jarman.