There are many swimwear brands we could stock. But we're very picky. Bikinis in particular need to be designed to stay in place and make us feel great not just while sunbathing, but also while we swim or get a Spritz from the beach bar.
So we are grateful to have come across Emroce, a beautiful range of swimwear designed and made near Lake Como by designer Emma. All pieces are made of ecofriendly fabric from zerowaste patterns and are designed for active women. Here she describes her design process and her priorities in her own words.
Who makes the Emroce pieces? I design and make everything. Thank goodness for slow fashion. Sometimes I have some help as some girls from a school of refugees in Rebbio come to improve their sewing skills with me.
What inspires your designs? In the beginning it was the shapes from art deco housing. Now it is more requests from customers and shop owners and the fact that each piece must be functional for surfing. Now I'm looking at the pieces that work best for surfing and am designing new bikinis from those.
What kind of woman do you design for? I design for a woman who likes to dive in the water and come up with their swimwear still in place.
What makes your swimwear zerowaste and how do you source your fabrics? Finding out about the Econyl recycled swimwear fabric was the trigger that got me into making swimwear. I think that all clothes should be made sustainably especially using certified organic fibres but I always drew the line for sportswear because it must be extremely functional and needs to be made of synthetic fabric. So when I chanced upon Econyl I jumped straight to it!
I had already been making zero waste clothing so it was only natural to continue on with that design process. The only difference is that when you are making a large garment zero waste you focus on one garment at a time. With swimwear I focus on the entire lay plan, which will consist of 2 to 20 pieces depending on the design. Often I puzzle together 2 different designs in one layplan.
Sometimes I'm left with little triangles of fabric that I use as frills and sometimes there is a strip of fabric on the side due to slightly varying fabric widths. I use these strips to hang my price tags.
I really love using the Econyl fabric. I use a type called Renew Prime that is slightly thicker than normal swimwear fabric. It is long lasting and high quality.
What's your favourite piece of feedback on the swimwear that you have had? My favourite feedback is negative feedback because it helps me to improve my designs. When Julia Ochs tested my swimwear for surfbunker magazine and told me that a One piece I used to make, called one.one.onesy, wasn't good for duckdiving as the front opens and drags under the water, I instantly made a new onesy with a high neck and open back. The Julio onesy (pictured). It's beautiful! I also love it when my customers thank me for the quality and fit and for helping the environment.
Do you have any plans for new designs? I have a project on the go, which talks about the refugee crisis here in Italy. I've worked with a few university students in New Zealand to design some prints and that will be ready for Christmas. Through the collection I would like the public to hear the journeys of the refugees, to understand the european laws that are in place which basically force these people to have to make this journey rather than simply catch a plane and overall I'd like to give a big thankyou to the volunteers who are spending a lot of their time trying to make the lives of the refugees a bit more comfortable. I will display this next collection along with the patternmaking in art galleries around Milan and Como.
I am also searching for a fabric that can be perpetually recycled. The Econyl fabric is mixed fibre so it can't be recycled I'll need 100% polyester or something similar and will also need to work closely with the company who produces this fabric to make sure that any fabric or old swimwear I send back to them is actually getting recycled. That's the next step!
I like having tight restrictions when designing because it forces me to be more accurate and pushes me to create something new.