Reports say that more than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. This threatens marine life, pollutes beaches, and affects tourism industries. Exhaustion of oxygen in the water creates enormous dead zones. It is believed that by 2050, plastic will outweigh fish in the world’s oceans. Henna and Anna introduce their one-piece swimwear line, made out of recycled plastic collected from the sea and produced locally in the UAE. Viki Shah talks to the duo who believe fashion can do better.
- How did Ohoyswim happen?
Ohoy swim happend because we, after a long time of looking for a great swimsuit decided to make one ourselves. We wanted to create a label that would be ethically produced and made out of a sustainable and ecco friendly fabric. By using recycled plastic collected from the sea we are looking at what we can do with what we have instead of producing fibers from nothing. It causes less stress on the environment.
- What inspired you to start the project?
We both come from creative industries and we both have active lifestyles, that include surfing and swimming in the sea. So it was a combination of wanting to start our own business and loving being in and near the ocean.
- Do you have any particular affinity for the sea or ocean cleaning initiatives etc.?
We are buying our fabric from a factory in Italy that works directly with a Dutch NGO that cleans the oceans for ghost fishing nets. Abandoned fishing nets are the main killer of sea mammals these days outside the fishing industry. It was very important to us that we chose to work with a company that was certified and really believed in what they are doing. ( The ORG is called: Ghost fishing).
- What does saving the environment mean to you? What are the other eco-friendly initiatives that you use in your daily life?
The environment means everything. We both come from Scandinavia where you grow up spending your time outdoor. You bicycle to work, buy your veggies locally etc. Climate change is very real and its very scary, but supporting good initiatives and trying to live simple makes you more aware of the good that are happening as well.
In our daily lives we try to be responsible for the small things. Saying no to extra plastic bags in the shop. Not buying plastic bottles but instilling water filters in the home, Recycling and giving away clothes that are not used etc. In the UAE its hard to be environmentally friendly because its a place that does not have natural spring water in the taps etc. and people don’t recycle that much yet. But if everyone takes small steps, things can change.
- What role to you expect ahoy swim to play in reinventing the relation of people with the environment?
We wanted to create a brand that would appeal to people because its a great product. Good design that fits well and last, and of course least, is environmentally friendly. What we didn’t want was to create a product that was just alright but had the back story of being ecco friendly. By giving people a good alternative that is made out of recycled plastics we make it easier for people to choose an environmentally friendly option. We really just want to bring in better options to the market and by doing so slowly making it a natural choice for people. Its important for us that people know why we made the brand but we have chosen to let the product speak for itself and not use the story alone as the selling point if that makes sense.
- Any tips on how people can protect or help the environment in their day to day life?
Yes- In the UAE you can cut down on you plastic bottles by getting a water filter installed in your kitchen. It saves you a lot. Bring your own shopping bags. Donate things you don’t use instead of throwing it away. Start recycling in your neighborhoods and support green initiatives. I think the biggest thing you can do is to teach your children to love and respect the environment and the sea.
- Did you face any challenges during the commissioning of the project? We have faced many challenges, but that is a part of starting a business. We spent a lot of time researching the right fabric, and the process of how they produce the fabric. Finding a good local factory was a bit challenging as well, but we manage to find the right fit!
- Can you comment on the ‘Scandinavian Simplicity’ part?
Yes! We come from a place where design and functionality goes hand in hand. Its always been an important part of all industries back home and the design is something everyone in Scandinavia values and appreciate. So having grown up in a place where things were created with simple lines and clean concepts that is what we naturally put into our brand. Beautiful but simple colors and feminine but clean cuts makes up our first collection. Hazy days is only 5 different suits in 6 different colors, but it is all about suits that look great on a female body without compromising on the functionality. They have to stay on when you are being active in the water.
- Do you believe that the fashion industry needs a serious clean up if it has to be sustainable in the future?
Yes, definitely! The fashion industry and the textile industry is one of the main factors that is polluting the planet today. The amount of energy, water and oil that goes into producing fabric is astounding. We also have a culture where people buy and throw away because things are not made to last but made to be replaced. Ten million tons of textile waste ends up in landfills each year. That’s scary. I think especially bigger brands needs to take a serious look at how they can cut down on the resources they use. We need to take responsibility now.
- Do you think eco-friendly and cost go hand in hand? Is it possible to make eco-friendly products affordable?
I think it is. We use a fabric made out of recycled plastics spun into a fiber and made into beautiful fabric; that is a product that is far more expensive than if we choose to use regular nylon. But for us its important to create a product that will be an alternative to people in a mid range price bracket even if that means smaller profit. I think if businesses started thinking more of the environment than the profit, things could change quite fast. Sadly thats not the case with a lot of companies though. But yes, it is definitely possible to produce good products and still make a smart business and a good living.
- What should we look forward to in the future?
In the future we are working on introducing more products and items to our collection so we are very excited about that!
OHOY swim was founded by Henna and Anna, two Scandinavians living far from home, where the desert meets the sea. They created OHOY for everyday girls like them, to wear both on land and in the water. With a focus on Scandinavian simplicity and looking after the environment, all OHOY products are produced from plastic and fishing nets collected from the sea & recycled into luxurious Italian fabric. OHOY swimsuits are tested in real-life conditions and are twice as resistant to chlorine, sun creams and oils, compared with other fabrics. And best of all, they are made to stay put and beautiful, no matter what. Our collaborative team based at our U.A.E factory works hard to ensure only the highest of quality, whilst working within fair & friendly working conditions.