In the first of our 'Meet the Designer' series, Ethi is privileged to interview Ellie Evans, one half of Elle Evans Swimwear, who are really paving the way for stylish swimwear that is sustainable from an environmental, social, and economic level. Elle Evans has just released their SS18 collection 'Pomelo' which you can find on Ethi!
A bit about Ellie Evans
Do you have a favourite book?
My favourite book has to be Catcher in the Rye, I first read it when I was far too young to fully understand it or appreciate it, but something about the raw style of the writing just got to me, and I must have read it at least 10 times since then.
What music are you into?
Anything with a beat! I use music to keep me on track and focused while I'm working so it needs to be upbeat but I love winding down to something a bit more chill too.
Who is your fashion/design idol?
I think the Zimmerman sisters are amazing, they really can’t put a design foot wrong in my eyes, but my style muse has to be Emma Watson, who always looks so chic and comfortable in what she’s wearing and is of course such a big advocate for sustainable fashion.
What does happiness look like for you?
Sunshine, ocean, my little family and a ton of good food.
What is your spirit animal and why?
A seal, because if I could spend all day in the water or sunning myself near the water I would be in heaven! And I eat a lot of fish :)
About Elle Evans Swimwear
Why and when did Elle Evans start?
I've always been a re-user, growing up we would pass clothing down from cousin to cousin, alter and mend things when they didn't fit or were torn, and make our own dresses from fabric found at the op-shop. But after 4 years as an assistant designer in my early 20’s, I realised that the fashion industry doesn't work that way. It felt so wrong to see how much fabric was wasted, how little connection the consumer and even the designer had with the people actually making their clothes. So Elle Evans Swimwear was born when I finally felt brave enough to step out on my own and I knew I wanted to create as little impact as I could and hopefully even help reduce an existing waste problem.
Tell us a bit more about the label. Where do you get your design inspiration or philosophy from?
I've always been of the opinion that as the designer and creator of each swimsuit or pair of leggings we make I'm responsible for its entire life-cycle. So I design all our pieces to be versatile - whether that’s having adjustable straps or being entirely reversible, high-quality fabric and make, and a great fit, so it will be worn for years rather than just a season. We’re primarily a fashion label.
You use an amazing recycled plastic material called ECONYL - we’d love to hear a bit more about how you got onto it!
Knowing I didn't want to just create more waste, I started by using deadstock or pre-consumer waste fabrics (Leftovers from larger companies and warehouses), but as we grew I realised I needed a more consistent option and began looking into 100% recycled fabrics. When I found ECONYL (the regenerated nylon we use today) I knew it was perfect, as it was not only 80% less harmful to produce but it actually helped rid the ocean of plastics and ghost-nets!
Why should more designer labels look into being more sustainable from a business point-of-view?
Well besides it being the best thing for our planet - simply because it’s easier than they think! Every business has a list of questions they have to ask whenever they make a decision; “Will this suit our customer?” “Is this profitable?” etc, adding “Is this sustainable?” just becomes part of the list. It’s also value-adding if you can proudly tell your customers that they’re buying something that supports local manufactures or uses environmentally friendly fabrics you’re giving them more than just a new t-shirt or dress.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced starting a sustainable brand?
One of the hardest parts of running a sustainable business is that we’re always searching for a better way to be sustainable; as we grow, as new fabrics and trims become available, as we learn more and more about the effects our industry has on the planet. We’re virtually always in research and development mode so we can be sensitive to advancements in the sustainability world.
What’s next for Elle Evans?
In the very near future, we’ll have our pieces walking Eco Fashion Week in Perth which we’re so excited to be part of! Long term we’d love to work more toward giving back to the community, charities, educating school-age kids about sustainability and replenishing some of the damage our industry has done to the earth.
Follow Elle Evans Swimwear on Instagram @elleevansswimwear. Elle Evans Swimwear embodies the Environment, Material, People, Animal-free, Transparency, and Your Local values. Shop Elle Evans here on Ethi.