My life became surrounded with bikinis after college when I worked as a marketing assistant for San Lorenzo Bikinis on Oahu. This eye-opening experience changed my perspective on the swimwear aspect of the fashion industry, for I only knew of luxury designers from my background at Bloomingdale's.
From managing a team of brand ambassadors, scheduling photoshoots, with models, and collaborating with other companies, I come to understand how the swimwear industry runs. But besides that, I've also come to learn of other bikini brands from old to new and upcoming designers here in Hawai'i. I've come across many brands while going to Art + Flea, Pa'akai Market, and other pop up shop events in the past year, and come to love several for their style and ethics:
Peace of Paradise
I heard about Peace of Paradise through one of my close friends, and she was raving about how eco-friendly the brand is, as well as how accommodating they are with custom-size orders. Online, you may request the color or print (reversible) on tops/bottoms/one pieces, the size, and then choose to add bra shapers or straps (for certain styles) to get a better fit. I met the owner at an Art + Flea event, and she told me about how her production in Maui is mainly her, along with help from friends and family. I admire her amazing efforts in fulfilling massive orders from around the world, especially during her holiday sales. I remember when I order this black set during a Veteran's Day sale, their website added disclaimer about orders after a certain date would be mailed out almost a month afterwards. But for the price you get on their suits, it's worth the wait!
IwaWhy is a fairly new brand, designed by independent entrepreneur, Iwa herself! All pieces from bandeau sets to body suits to styles for young girls, are designed and produced in Kona on the Big Island. Her iconic style is her Bombshell Bodysuit, which comes in solid tones, as well as metallics, and prints. What I love about this one piece is that it's seamless, soft, form-fitting, and cheeky. The low neckline allows the wearer to accent with dainty body jewelry; just like how I'm doing so with my Love Me Knots Y-necklace with a lapis lazuli drop pendant. You can find Iwa's current as well as up coming collection online.
I came across Ranifly during an event at Kaka'ako, and saw their pop up shop carrying printed yoga pants to mix and match with any bikini top. I met with the owner, Rani, who told me her story about starting her own line. It all started at her home back at the Virgin Islands in 2009, where she began her passion to create sporty swimwear; suitable for adventuring of any style. You can shop all styles as well as custom order certain pieces online, and check them out on Instagram for when they do a pop-up shop! They have a wide range of printed fabrics inspired by Hawai'i, the Virgin Islands, and other tropical destinations; all made from recycled fishnets.
I recently went to a Pa'akai Market after seeing Sundaze Bikinis on Instagram, and found this cute reversible set; one side blue palm leaves on white, and the other solid teal. I met Taylor, owner and designer, who combines forces with social media influencers to spread awareness on sustainability. All the suits you see are produced with fabric made of ocean plastic (fishing nets, water bottles, etc.), which are sanitized and broken down to become soft and durable microfibers. Taylor just started her brand in 2016, and she's already taking off #likeaboss! You can shop her pieces online or at pop up shops around the island.
I knew about Gillia when I first saw their clothing at San Lorenzo Bikinis, and recently learned that they have a swim line as well! I went to another Art + Flea event, where they had a vendor spot selling sample pieces. I wish I bought all the styles, because mots of them are old out online! This swimwear line caters to the resort lifestyle, with it's vintage travel/beach vibes. I feel so retro and sexy wearing this set, and that's exactly what Gillia's style intends to make their wearers feel. I hope they'll do another pop up shop soon, but there's always their online shop.
Lastly is a brand I'm impressed by with the way their pieces are designed; a combination of resort and urban- LOVE! I could imagine myself wearing just the top and choker portion with some cute high-waisted bell bottoms on a night in Chinatown while eating garlic fries at Down Beat Diner. Okay, a bit specific, but that's how I'm feeling with this! SIE Swim's line consists of unique pieces made seamless with their signature rose gold lining. What I like about this bran dis that they don't use hardware for the cup area; perfect for us ladies with tiny titties! LMFAO. Anyways, I'm in love with this set and would definitely wear this more often at the beach or pool on an overcast day when I'll barely tan. I've only seen SIE once at a pop up shop during a Pa'akai Market event, but they have an online store where you can find their new arrivals.
I'm quite smitten with all of these pieces and I'm looking forward to styling myself with them not only at the beach or pool, but also in while venturing to hippie neighborhoods such as Kaka'ako (obviously with clothing, hahaha). There are a number of brands these days who are mindful about the environment, making use of plastic waste in products and spreading awareness about taking care of the land and sea.
All of swim sets were bought with my own money over the course of a year, and I'm proud with this collection! I've already wore some of these pieces more than 3x and I'll continue to do so since they're all comfortable, soft, and empowering. Did you fall in love with any of these brands? Let me know if you have a favorite swimwear designer in Hawai'i that wasn't mentioned in the story!
Thanks a bunch to the team I worked with during this amazing collab!:
Photographer: Reed Hopperstad
Make Up + Hair & Directing: Heidi, Breathe Hawai'i
Videographer: Nainoa Andrade
(He took some b-roll footage for a project)
Also big thanks to Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach for having us! The pool deck is breathe-taking, with their salt water infinity pool, which looks out to Waikiki Beach. You can either relax on a day bed, or reserve your own space at one of their cabanas, which comes with chic contemporary couches, a cooler, and a mounted flat screen tv! Find out more info about the Swell Pool & Bar and get some Instagram worthy photos during your stay ;)
If you do decide to stay in Waikiki, consider Alohilani to for vacation in style by checking out with the promo code 'ALOHACHIC'!
This is my first story ever for 'Designer Spotlight' under the 'Only in Hawai'i' section. My goal is to build more content by collaborating with as many local designers/brands in Hawai'i. There are so many creative and inspiring artists who don't get the credit or attention they deserve, and I hope to drive more traffic their way with this platform. If you or anyone you know has business or is starting one and would like to be featured, let's make it happen!