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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

UAE-based designers at Ohoy Swim produce eco-friendly garments for sporty beachgoers

All too aware of the amount of plastic pollution in the sea, the self-confessed water babies chose to use fabrics made from recycled fishing nets

The designers behind Ohoy are surfers who struggled to find suitable swimsuits. Courtesy Ohoy
The designers behind Ohoy are surfers who struggled to find suitable swimsuits. Courtesy Ohoy

As every woman who likes to surf, paddleboard or wakeboard will attest, swimwear needs to be more than just good-looking. A day spent at the beach doing anything more than sunbathing (yawn) means running the gauntlet of swimwear that may – or may not – stay put.

Luckily, the designers at Ohoy Swim suffer from the same headache, and being community-minded Scandinavians, they have come up with a range of swimwear that is not only aimed at active women, but is also good for the planet. UAE-based designers Anna and Henna are avid surfers who struggled to find swimwear that was fit for purpose. Frustrated at the lack of choice, they decided to make their own.

We caught up with one half of the duo, Anna, who explained where the idea came from. “We created Ohoy because we ourselves spend so much time in the ocean, surfing and being active,” she says. “We were always searching for good swimsuits that would also be feminine and stylish. We are aiming to provide active women with a swimsuit that is not just meant to look nice when laying on the beach. It is as functional as it is fashionable.”

All too aware of the amount of plastic pollution in the sea, the self-confessed water babies chose to use fabrics made from recycled fishing nets. “We would not have started the brand if it was not eco-friendly, because the textile industry is already a main polluter in the world today. When we thought about the brand, it made sense for us to use this recycled fabric, as we spend so much time in the sea, where we see first-hand how much plastic waste is polluting the waters.”

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Also known as ghost nets, hundreds of thousands of disused fishing nets are adrift in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine life. Every year, countless dolphins, seals, whales, sharks and turtles perish in nets that have either fallen overboard or been deliberately dumped. Recently, however, a drive has started to clear the oceans of these death traps. Despite the scale of the problem, companies such as Parley for the Oceans, Adidas, Speedo and now Ohoy are all working with fabrics repurposed from fishing nets. Each one supplies material for up to 1,000 swimsuits.

“The main difficulty was finding the right certified fabric, which led us to Italy,” Anna says. “There are only a few places in the world that produce this fabric, and therefore the cost is higher than basic nylon. At the same time, we wanted to produce a great quality swimsuit that was mid-range. We were lucky to find the right fit and oversee our first production ourselves.”

The Ohoy range is small but well-considered, and every part of each piece is made from 100 per cent recycled nets. The cuts are flattering, but are designed to allow ease of movement. Leg cuts are high enough to look stylish, yet low enough so one can jump on and off a board without a care. The scooped neck is pretty, but not too revealing, and each suit comes with different straps – from thin spaghetti straps to cute double ribbons – for individuality. All the swimsuits have been thoroughly tested for durability, and the team proudly boasts that each piece is “made to stay put, no matter what”.