Based in Florida, Koru Swimwear focuses on the environment by producing eco-friendly swimwear that is made in the USA. Although, how the brand does this is what really interested us.
The founder of Koru Swimwear, Julie Stine offered insight into the brand’s focus on being eco-friendly, from the yarns to the colors, to how the brand works to help support local artists.
MalenDyer: Share with us more of the inspiration behind starting this company?
Julie Stine: As a surfer and an advocate for the environment, I wanted something on the market that was functional for active women, stylish and that was manufactured with an environmentally friendly approach. The the fashion industry being the number two polluter in the world behind oil, sustainable fashion needs to be more readily available to the public.
MD: Which style would you consider core to the Koru brand?
JS: The Tiki Tonga bikini which is both stylish and functional for active sports, such as surfing or beach volleyball or looking cute lounging by the pool.
MD: As the brand is inspired by New Zealand, how do you work to inject the Kiwi lifestyle into your collections?
JS: Our designs are classic and simple with a unique flare. All of our swimwear and apparel is designed with the function of comfort in mind and are always designed with careful consideration for the environment with careful textile selections for manufacturing.
“All of our swimwear and apparel are always designed with careful consideration for the environment with careful textile selections for manufacturing.”
MD: With a focus on leveraging eco-responsible manufacturing practices and leveraging sustainable fabrics, what have you found most challenging about this?
JS: Our color selection is limited because we only use recycled fabric, however, our unique prints are printed on print-ready white recycled fabrics which enables us to offer more variety. As recycled fabric becomes more popular among other swimwear companies, we’ve noticed the color selection is becoming more broad.
MD: And, most rewarding?
JS: The most rewarding aspect of using only sustainable fabrics has been in the fact we’ve noticed more and more swimwear companies are coming onboard with with trend, which we are hoping is here to stay….not just a trend.
MD: On that note, how did you choose to partner with Healthy Seas?
JS: Healthy Seas is the initiative that pulls the discarded fishing nets or “ghost fishing nets” from our oceans that wreak havoc on sea life. These fishing nets are sent to ECONYL® which then processes these discarded nets into the recycled yarn that goes into our fabrics. We thought it was a perfect partnership. We give a percentage of our sales and provide swimwear for promotional opportunities to raise monies for the initiative.
MD: Share with us how the collaboration between Koru and Jay Alders came about.
JS: Jay Alders is an artist with a love for the ocean and the environment. We love his work. I brought him onboard to collaborate with Koru after getting to know him when I invited him to become a part of the Slater Brothers Surfing Invitational, which I co-chaired with April Slater. His artwork seemed like the perfect fit for Koru Swimwear. He’s been a great ambassador for the environment, even providing artwork for the Surfrider Foundation.
“I wanted something on the market that was functional for active women, stylish and that was manufactured with an environmentally friendly approach.”
MD: As you work to promote local artists, who else could we see you collaborating with?
JS: We are always looking for like-minded artists to work with. We will probably look at working with photographers in the future who specialize in ocean photography and give back to environmental organizations.
MD: What would you like to see for Koru Swimwear in the next five years?
JS: We would like to get more into sustainable apparel using fabrics we already use, such as organic cotton and hemp fabrics. We are hoping to get into chain stores to make sustainable fashion more available to the mass public. It’s important these chain stores support this effort in providing more environmentally friendly fashion to their customers in an effort to clean-up the fashion industry.
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Learn more about Healthy Seas at healthyseas.org.