Ocean Mimic has been making sustainable swimwear for a year now and we realised that we haven’t shared exactly how we make the magic happen. In light of Fashion Revolution Week this week which calls for greater transparency in fashion we are sharing every little detail with you!
We are a small company with sustainability and ethics always at the forefront without compromising on quality. Our sustainable swimwear is more than just a special fabric. We make the suits from recycled fabric, but what else? How are the suits made? Who makes them? How do we minimise waste?
As some background, we had no idea how to make swimwear when we started out. It began by literally googling “how to make swimwear?” “what is digital printing?”. We found our designer and our manufacturer through Facebook and we made lots of mistakes along the way. However, despite our cluelessness from the beginning we did know that it had to be eco friendly and ethical and we are happy to say that has at no point been sacrificed.
When making sustainable swimwear there are a few things to consider: Pattern (the pieces of fabric making up the suit) and design, fabric, fabric printing, sewing, labels, branding and packaging.
It’s worth starting at the very beginning. We have worked with one very talented designer in Canada called Corinne Monique to create our suits. We work with her to create designs inspired by the marine life we want to protect. The aim is to create designs which inspire and educate. It often takes 3-6 weeks of to-ing and fro-ing to develop a design we are happy with. Getting the balance between it looking great and representing a creature well is surprisingly hard to pull off.
Local handmade manufacturing
Once we have our design we send it to our manufacturing hero, Marissa. Marissa is an Indonesian superwoman living in the heart of Denpasar, Bali. We usually visit her in her home where she works. We drive through the tiniest alleyways and get lost every single time! Her home is a local house and it’s full to the brim with fabrics, clothing, baskets, offcuts, a sewing machine and all sorts of other curiosities! Marissa is the head of her own manufacturing company. She manages other local men and women who sew in their own homes and deliver the finished goods to her for inspection. She understands that we are making sustainable swimwear and so she focuses on details to minimise our waste.
Recycled plastic fabric
The first step to making eco friendly swimwear is getting hold of the right fabrics. We use Carvico Vita, an eco friendly fabric made of two yarns woven together. It’s 78% Econyl which is a 100% recycled nylon yarn and the remaining 22% is elastane yarn for a better stretch. We use a solid colour for the side panels and for the patterns we print onto white fabric.
Printing and cutting
Once we have the Carvico Vita the next step is digital printing. Digital printing works in a similar way to your household printer but on a bigger scale. It’s more eco-friendly than offset printing or screen printing because only the exact amount of dye needed is used. There are no dyes wasted and no plates/screens to prepare or wash so there is less chemical waste overall. Marissa takes the fabrics to be printed and returns home with them for cutting. Marissa cuts the material for every suit and before they are sewn they are taken for logo and label printing.
For the logo on the sleeve and the sizing on the inside of the suit we use screen printing because of the positioning. It would be difficult and very expensive to digital print here.
Efficient and waste free sewing
Then the suits are distributed to the sewers for sewing. We edited our original design to have one more panel so that there would be less fabric wastage per suit. The sewers work from home and when the suits are done they are sent back to Marissa to check. The scraps of fabric left over are being sewn into hair scrunchies – for sale soon!
Finally we have a finished suit! All the Carvico Vita tags are attached with safety pins and string (no plastic hang tags) and they are checked again for quality. We don’t use plastic sanitary stickers, but instead chose to inform our customers to try the swimwear on over underwear. Once the suits are ready they are delivered by motorbike to be stored. When a suit is ordered it is hand packaged into a paper envelope with a paper sticker and sent across the world to the customers door. Swimwear doesn’t get much more sustainable than that!
It’s important to note that not only are these individual steps taking sustainability into account but overall we finish with a high quality product. We sent out surveys to our customers and none have experienced any fading in the fabric. Everyone was happy with the quality they received. The zips are YKK brand and robust. The sewing is strong and doesn’t tear. The fabric itself is thick and long lasting. The most sustainable swimwear is the suit which will last you the longest. We hope to see people wearing their suits for years to come.
Of course we aren’t perfect. We are just starting out and we are manufacturing in small quantities which can be limiting in some ways. Some ways we would like to improve:
- We need to do more research into the dyes we are using for digital printing and the rubber used in screen printing our branding
- Use zips made of recycled plastic
- Find an Indonesian recycled plastic fabric of the same quality instead of importing fabric from Italy
- We want to create more resources to educate our customers on microfibres and how to wash their swimwear with minimal fibres being shed into the environment
So there you have it! We are very proud of our sustainable swimwear and believe that we really are one of the most sustainable and ethical swimwear options out there. This doesn’t even take into account the charity and cleanup movement which each purchase contributes to and that each suit picks up 10 kilos of trash.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, suggestions for improvement or opinions feel free to reach out to us,
The Ocean Mimic Team :)
In light of COVID-19
Indonesia is at huge risk and a huge portion of the population cannot afford to buy a mask. Marissa is making masks for sale or donation. If you want to donate a mask to an Indonesian at risk please contact Marissa here.