Repurposing Ocean Plastics With Seapia Designer Fiorella Castro

by: Rosie Dalton | 11 months ago | Features

Image: Seapia designer Fiorella Castro.

Swimwear is a fairly unique product category in the sense that it demands technicality and functionality in the way that most clothing items do not. There is the stretch factor – just enough, but not too much; the anti-sag factor; and the fact that it needs to stay in place despite crashing waves or other such vigorous activity. Which is why a lot of swimwear is crafted from man-made fibres that aren’t exactly great for the planet. But with plastics becoming a huge problem in our oceans over recent years, we believe it is critically important to seek out sustainable swimwear wherever possible. And that’s why we’re so grateful for labels like Seapia.

Founded by Costa Rican designer Fiorella Castro, all of Seapia’s pieces are made from regenerated lycra, which is made from recycled post-consumer materials like plastic bottles. Imagine if you could take the items clogging up our waterways and repurpose them for positive gain. Well you can with Seapia’s responsible swim pieces. And with bright colours as well as unique silhouettes to boot, this local brand is quickly becoming one of our favourite summer staples. Here we caught up with the designer about her process and what keeps her inspired.

Rosie Dalton: Can you tell us a bit about how you first got into making swimwear?
Fiorella Castro
: I’ve had broad experience in the Industry as a young womenswear designer for different brands here in Australia, the UK and Italy. I studied Fashion at UTS and later did a Masters of Fashion in Milan. With Seapia, I wanted to create an environmentally responsible label that would give customers a choice of more thoughtful products to counter the rise of fast fashion clothing, which contributes to waste. Seapia reflects my core values of sustainability through fashion design with swimwear of high quality.

Rosie: Where do you tend to source inspiration for your silhouettes and colour palettes?
: I don’t really go looking for inspiration to design a particular collection. This comes from observing life, nature, lifestyles, fashion trends, mixed with my own preference for the uncluttered and minimal, the bright and the neutral.

Rosie: And what about your latest collection – what were you feeling inspired by when you were creating these pieces?
: This collection brings us to more linear and geometric shapes. Playing with form and solid colour in natural shades and bright highlights like saffron gold. The cheeky bottoms are a little cheekier this season and there’s a bit of under cleavage exposed as well. 

Rosie: Why did you decide to use post-consumer plastic waste in particular for your designs? 
: We believe in being thoughtful about how we produce our products and how they are worn. This starts with using fabrics that contain recycled plastics such as fishing nets and bottles, recycled and organic packaging, a plastic-free supply chain and using carbo-neutral suppliers.

Rosie: Can you tell us a little bit more about how this process works and what the overall journey of one of your swimsuits looks like? 
: The fabric uses reclaimed plastics from fishing nets, carpets, pre and post-consumer waste, which is depolymerised and regenerated into Nylon 6 polymers and then processed into the yarn. This yarn is then used to create the fabrics we use. The great thing is that it can be regenerated over and over without any loss in quality. Our prints are done with colour fast, water-soluble inks that do not harm the environment.

Rosie: Why do you believe that sustainable innovation is especially important in the context of swimwear and other pieces that we wear to the beach? 
: Sustainable innovation is important in every aspect of our lives. In swimwear it becomes a poetic way of taking plastics out of the ocean and putting them back into the ocean in a beautiful way.

Rosie: Is longevity an important consideration for you when crafting a swimsuit – both in terms of the style and the construction? 
: Making our pieces high quality is very important to the brand. This, combined with a timeless and less trend-driven approach, lends longevity to our pieces. We have excellent capability of local production, with all of our garments being made in Sydney.

Rosie: In what other ways would you say that customers could help protect the natural environment, especially our beaches and waterways? 
: We need to be more thoughtful in the way we consume. Bring your own re-usable cups and straws; avoid consuming take-out food that doesn’t come in biodegradable packaging. And needless to say: no plastic bags. Also, be aware of harsh chemicals in sunscreens.

Rosie: How do you feel that your Costa Rican roots add to the spirit of Seapia?
: My Costa Rican roots definitively reflect my love of nature and the environment. Growing up in Sydney has helped develop this love and Seapia is the product of this.

Rosie: Shopping for swimwear can be notoriously tricky. How do you personally seek to blend form and function in order to produce swimwear that makes women feel great (and look great too)?
: Form and function equate to design and fit – the combination of these two applied to real bodies create garments that make women feel their best.


You can shop all of Seapia’s summer swim pieces over here.

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