This week I have good news, I did my first ‘official’ product review photo shoot; better news, it features a knockout sustainable swimwear brand; and the best news, you could win a suit!
The Mission: Conquer my camera fears
As many of you know, I just made a big move out to Austin, Texas. So right now, I’m going through the motions (and e-motions) of change. But instead of resisting them I’m saying – bring on more! In this spirit, I decided it would be a good time to conquer my camera fears a do my first real photoshoot to review APRICOSS swimwear.
It also really helps that I’m meeting savvy creatives in Austin who are beginning to fuel my work more than ever. My friend Magdalena is one of them. She’s the brain behind Selva Beat, an environmental lifestyle magazine, who knows her way around a Nikon in equal measure. She offered to shoot this swimsuit with me at Zilker National Park.
In the past, I’ve hesitated from posting photos of myself in ethical clothes, either pieces that I buy on my own volition or items that, on the rare occasion, a brand sends me. I’ve done a few Instagrams here and there, but taking selfies normally feels like a cop-out.
It’s important to me that my work centers on transforming fashion for good – not on self promotion. Because of this, I’ve been careful not to adopt the practices of conventional fashion bloggers who entice you with retouched images and convince you to stay by flaunting a massive squad of Instagram followers [that I don’t have, and don’t plan to buy].
If you’ve been reading The Peahen for a while, you know that I cover brands mostly through written interviews or reviews that highlight ethics, style and manufacturing. But lately my views on photos are becoming more fluid. Here’s why:
Without photos, I’ve been depriving you the chance to see how the products I review look on a real human [instead of a Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl],
Photos of me in the clothes adds another layer of transparency to my written review, and;
Let’s be real, photos are a whole hell of lot more captivating.
That said, I’d like to make an important distinction: I promise to do photos differently than most bloggers. I will tell you if a brand is paying me to do a review or if I’ve been gifted the item (as in this case) and I won’t retouch my photos (okay, fine here I attempted to erase my insane back tan, also in this case). With my photos, you get raw and honest transparency.
Now, I tell you all about the swimwear brand that’s making sustainability look good.
The Brand: APRICOSS
What You’ll Find:
A sophisticated swimsuit that prioritizes fit, fabric and unfussy simplicity.
Stringent supply chain standards. Collaborative partnerships with vendors. Use of sustainable tech fibers.
This is a suit I felt totally comfortable in. Usually, with one-pieces I get a bit weirded out with the lack of – eh, how do I say this, support for the ladies – but not here. This one is light, stretchy, smooth and doesn’t tug my body in an awkward places. I wore this suit, it didn’t wear me. I could probably go jogging in it, or do a Gabby Douglas split.
The only part that could be improved upon is the straps. I had some trouble adjusting them and they twisted from time to time. Aside from that minor qualm, I will have this suit forever. I love that I can make it look sporty or 60s retro depending on how it’s styled. It also washes, wears and packs beautifully.
I was curious what it takes to bring a sustainable swimsuit like this to life, so I asked APRICOSS founder, Sofia Syu, a few questions via email.
Why did you start with a swimsuit?
I was shopping for a one piece swimsuit in a specific red color with flashes of white. Fortunately, my attempts were unsuccessful because the prices were either too high, the quality of the fabric was unacceptable, the torso length was to short, and the list goes on.
So I decided that my first product would be a swimsuit. I started with a simple design, since I believe in minimalism. I looked at what is on the market and where the trends were going.
It all became clear: I wanted to make a suit that fit well yet flatters the body, with an outstanding quality that lasts could endure for years, while adhering to sustainable practices.
What fabrics do you use?
After attending several sourcing events, I chose a well-respected Italian fabric supplier (Carvico) that has been in the industry for over 50 years and specialized in knits. I always considered Italian knitting artisans/manufacturers as the best in the world.
The specific fabric we chose for APRICOSS is produced using innovative yarn and knitting technologies to make it flatter than a normal swimsuit fabric. It also has UV protection, is stain resistant (to oil and sunscreen), and holds its softness and shape over time. We added Xtra Life LYCRA® to the blend which makes our swimsuits more chlorine resistant and helps to reduce fabric breakdown by more than five times, compared to an average swimsuit.
We went a step further with our Black/Elegance color. It’s is made with ECONYL® – 100% regenerated nylon and polyester fiber from post-consumer materials. With this process, nylon and polyester contained in waste, such as carpets, clothing and fishing nets, is transformed back into virgin raw material without any loss of quality. Originally, I planned to make a full collection from ECONYL, but I could not find the right shade of red in the ECONYL fabric. My hope for future collections is to develop our own colors in the fabrics that we chose.
Ethical sourcing sounds like a complex process. Are there any hurdles you face in managing your supply chain?
After our first season I can recall a few.
- Vetting suppliers and manufacturers: Finding the right fabric supplier and manufacturer that matched my values was quite challenging. I’m a strong believer that you can can avoid 70% of the problems that may occur if you select the right partners who follow ethical and international standards from the beginning.
- Managing deadlines: Because our fabric (Italy) and production (Morocco) are done overseas we had to build a strong communication between all the chain components in order to deliver the product at the right time.
- Cost: Many fashion startups including APRICOSS face the challenges of high manufacturer minimums, high bulk fabric costs and high transportation costs.
Do you plan to expand beyond swimwear?
Yes, the APRICOSS mission is to create a timeless wardrobe. The Ariana swimsuit was our first product and my future collections will carry lifestyle pieces that women may want to wear during the day or at night. This will include dresses, pants, skirts, tops, coats etc. Our signature will be high quality, simple styles with unique details. Being an active young women on my own, I know how it’s important to be comfortable and look great through the day and know how important to have pieces that will last through the seasons. I’m also inspired by embroidery and thinking of adding it to future swimwear collections.
What innovation excites you most for the future of sustainable fashion?
I’m excited about the opportunities that may come when technology and fashion merge together. Because I want to create long-lasting items, I am leaning toward smart textiles that are self-repelling and wrinkle-resistant.
Online shopping tools that could reduce returns by knowing a customer’s measurements or ones that could cut down on shipping energy and waste are also really inspiring.
The Contest: Win the red suit!
Please use hashtag #SlowDownMyClothes and include both handles to be entered.
You’ve got one week! A winner will be chosen by APRICOSS and announced on Monday, July 18.
Photography: Magdalena Antuna, Selva Beat Magazine
Shorts: Jcrew, old