Sustainable brands are finally having a well-deserved moment in the fashion industry. Even for swimwear, you'll easily find brands fighting the good fight and pushing for a more environmentally-friendly approach—one of those is Kyst Swimwear.
These days, where information and data are literally just one click away, consumers are becoming more and more conscious of what they buy. Apart from looking at the actual products, they now care about what the brand stands for as well.
Still, the question remains: Can existing brands actually make the full conversion to becoming sustainable? This is what owners Bianca Alejandro, Steffi De Guzman, and Nelvin Obach have done with their swimsuit line. These three are running their sustainable brand with the phrase "waste to waves" in mind. It may seem like tedious work but these friends of 10 years strive hard to prove that it is possible to make the leap from being just a fashion line to building a brand that has a purpose. "As active travelers and beach goers, we encountered so many beautiful beaches, and other natural attractions tainted with trash. This has led us to reassess our brand’s purpose. We wanted to be more than just a swimwear brand, so we came up with the idea of using upcycled fabric instead of the usual newly produced nylon."
Know more about the brand as Preview chats with Kyst's owners to share why they decided to rebrand, their design inspirations, and their brand's important advocacy.
What made you put up your own swimwear line?
"During the start of our journey, our goal was to produce universally flattering swimwear. Taken from a personal pain point, we wanted to uplift women through our swimwear. This was made possible by collaborating with local and up-and-coming designers to help us create a collection made for everybody. But we wanted to do more."
Was it a big challenge for you guys to turn your brand sustainable?
"We realized that when we started to incorporate our personal purpose with Kyst's, things became more interesting than challenging. We can't say that the transition was fluid but because we had our bigger purpose, we were more eager to push through. "
What were some steps you did to make the shift?
"We really did intensive research before we jumped in to becoming a sustainable brand. We didn't want to use sustainability just as a marketing tool. We really made sure that we set our intentions straight. We took a few steps back and assessed if our operations, even that with our stakeholders are aligned with our vision. We also partnered up with Little Big Help PH who shared our vision. It's a lot like a group of women helping each other take easier steps by sharing their journey through the whole process of building an entirely new sustainable brand.
"So to all the girls out there trying to start one as well, don't hesitate and just create! There are a lot of helping hands with one central goal—to save our planet."
What's the current process for making your swimsuits?
"Kyst Swimwear is mostly made up of upcycled fabric called ECONYL®. It's not yet available here in the Philippines, so we had to source them from Italy. Besides being upcycled from reclaimed fishnets and other ocean waste and landfills, the process of producing the material is also meticulously crafted such that it consumes minimal raw materials, and generates the least harmful emissions.
"Our swimwear is not yet 100% made of upcycled fabric as the other materials are not yet available as upcycled items such as the bra cups, lining, etc. But we made sure our packaging also mirrored our vision. Every order comes with a pouch and scrunchie that are handcrafted by the Kyst team, and a seed hangtag that you can actually plant. The scrunchies' colors are the same as our swimwear because they're made from the fabric scraps during the manufacturing process."
How do you come up with your designs?
“We don’t necessarily come up with our designs. We collaborate with talents who want to showcase their works through swimwear. Our swimsuits’ names are actually inspired by our designers’ names! Our previous designs, the Elise maillot was designed by Ella Als; and our Maxxie bikinis were designed by Regina Macasiray. For our first eco-swimwear collection, our designs Jo and Reese were named after our designer, Joanna Therese Navarra. The collection's purpose was to do more than just doing good, it was also about making the suit feel good, encouraging our girls to believe that they can."
Do you think that it is very timely now to create a brand like this?
"We have been facing climate change for years now, and it’s only recently that people are starting to realize it. In fact, many organizations have already declared a 'climate emergency'—the perfect time to make the switch is now. We started out as a brand that wanted to give its customers high quality and specially designed swimwear. But as we saw how our planet’s been deteriorating, we looked for a way to utilize our brand to make a change. It's about time that having a social and/or environmental impact should be a business standard. Enterprises have the ideal platform to educate and raise awareness on issues that needs to be addressed. So let's use that power to make this world a better place."
What are some of your future plans for the brand?
"Along our five-year and 10-year pipeline, we envision that this will result in a community of empowered ocean lovers who are driven by compassion for saving the planet where we see Kyst serving its greater purpose by driving projects that are relevant to our vision."