Summertime… and the living should finally be easy. This summer is all about letting go. Even as the COVID-19 variants start to be of increasing concern again, we need to get our bodies out of their cages, now more so than ever. Our bodies, exhausted by nearly a year of confinement and endless sweat pants and pajamas, are craving for sun, wind, sand, sea, swimming pools, iodine and vitamin D. Our tired, oversized, skinny and/or screaming bodies need to finally breath and be happy. Most importantly, they need to glow with a never ending choice of swimsuits, sarongs, dresses, t-shirts, etc.
This summer 2021 is that of freedom, and it would be best to enjoy it while it lasts. Pulse decided to pamper you, with the help of four Arab beachwear designers. They answered a few questions and created a couple of looks for this year and for your eyes only. Don’t forget your sunscreens, and let your (always hydrated) body revitalize in the water and under the sun, because it deserves it.
BY THE BEACH
By The Beach (BTB) by Tala is a sustainable Lebanese brand. “I chose to design sustainable swimsuits because of my love for the beach, the environment and everything in between. I noticed that there’s a gap in the swimwear/beachwear industry in the Arab world, there’s a growing market for it, and I saw that as an opportunity to launch my own line. I believe that swimwear is a piece of clothing that can empower people, especially women, and my goal is to cater to all body types, in order to show that anyone can rock a swimsuit and feel confident in it,” says Tala Farah, the founder of BTB, the first local sustainable swimsuit brand in the region.
Why beachwear and what was the trigger? “I found out that swimsuits can be extremely creative because of my mom. She would style the same swimsuit in many different ways, to the point where that same swimsuit would turn into different ones. My mom was my inspiration; she led me to think of different styles for the same swimsuit. Once I started my line, I came up with reversible swimsuits – two different colors on each side –, with removable and adjustable straps, all made from recycled plastic found at the beach,” says the young Arab designer, who confesses that she was also inspired by Salma Hayek, “mainly by her snake dance scene in the movie From Dusk till Dawn.”
What beach object would she have loved to design? “A beach umbrella, the ‘eco-brella,’ made from recycled plastic, attached to a wooden frame and a wooden pole, with a trash picker add-on, so that the pole could be used to collect trash found on the beach,” answers Farah who, as a child, along with her mom, used to pick up the litter left behind on the beach by inconsiderate people. “I would also design a matching tote bag made from hay straws. It will facilitate the transportation of the “eco-brella’! Being able to raise awareness about the many amazing outcomes of sustainability through my ideas and creations is what drives my happiness…”
Finally, Tala Farah admits that beachwear is “indeed a financial jackpot. But unlike fast fashion brands, By The Beach is working towards cleaner production practices. My goal is to target people who care about the environment, and to shed light around the atrocities that go behind fast fashion.”
Kai Collections is an Egyptian beachwear brand for both men and women. “I chose beach wear because there’s so much potential for people in the Arab world to express themselves with their style at the beach. The Arab World is filled with beautiful beaches, and rocking a nice outfit at the beach will not only boost our confidence but also allow us to show who we truly are through our style,” says Karim Safadi, the founder and CEO of Kai collection.
What was the trigger? “It was back in December 2016, right after the devaluation of the Egyptian currency. I was going for a New Year’s trip to the beach and realized that I urgently needed to buy swim shorts. I went to my local mall and saw that all the prices had skyrocketed, and that the available variety for men’s swimwear was very limited. I wondered how come there are no premium quality locally made swimwear brands? Given my background in the textile industry through my family textile business, I decided to use my skill set and knowledge to bring to life the first Egyptian/Arab premium swimwear brand,” says Safadi.
The Working Woman: Beach at 9AM and meeting at 11AM ? It’s easy! Swimsuit: Kai Collections / Sunglasses: Karen Wazen / Purse: Okhtein / Slides: Andrea Wazen. The Influencer: For the one who will definitely stand out wherever she goes. Swimsuit: Kai Collections / Sunglasses: Karen Wazen / Bag: Aliel / Shoes: Amina Muaddi. The Young Startup CEO: The only thing missing to complete the look is a Porsche Boxster S! T-shirt: Kai Collections / Swimsuit: Kai Collections / Sunglasses: Amr Saad. The Party Animal: The perfect outfit for a summer rave. Shirt: Kai Collections / Swimsuit: Kai Collections / Sunglasses: Nile EyeWear / Bucket Hat: Les Benjamins.
What beach object would he have loved to design? “I would love to design and reimagine flip flops or slides for men, and create a completely new beach footwear concept. I’ve always hated wearing them and felt they’re not fashionable, unique, or comfortable whatsoever. It is definitely something I want to develop in the near future”, says the young Arab creative, who also admits that beachwear is indeed a financial jackpot. “There is so much potential in the industry. The different styles, patterns, colors and aesthetics that could be used are limitless. Most people believe beachwear is only about swimwear. However, there is so much more to it, from beach accessories to even sunscreen. The only downside to the beachwear industry is that it is a seasonal one, so you need to come up with unique ways to keep selling during the offseason, without drifting away from the brand’s core identity.”
Lebain Swimwear is a Moroccan brand. “As a young Moroccan designer and entrepreneur, I want to offer Arab women the chance to feel confident and comfortable in their skin. I believe there are opportunities for rising Arab talents to join the international beachwear market,” says Madiha Jawhari, the founder and designer of the brand. “I have always been fascinated by the female body, and I wanted to create a flattering and glamorous collection. Lebain breaks free from the minimalist, functionalist swimsuit, and offers something very unique,” says Jawhari, who shares with Tala Fayad one same inspiration – and they answered our questions separately!- It’s Salma Hayek again, in the same movie, in that same “legendary snake bikini dance scene.”
Unlike the other two designers, Madiha Jawhari doesn’t consider beachwear as a financial jackpot. “It is seasonal and has a niche. I wish to diversify my collection to offer resort wear and lingerie as well, both of which can sell all year long,” says the young Arab designer, who would have loved to design a Brass hand fan, to be used all throughout the year.
LÉA THE LABEL
“I wouldn’t’t say that beachwear is a niche, I would say it is a developing market as more and more countries in the Arab world are opening up to the latest trends from the West, as well as the influence of social media”, says Léa Daaboul, the founder and designer of Léa The Label, the Lebanese swimwear brand – and linen suits, perfect for a happening on the sand…
What was the trigger? “I always had an appreciation for resort-wear and for the beach culture from all regions of the Mediterranean, which led me to explore what the rest of the world has to offer in terms of design and sustainable fashion. Flash forward years later, I attended university in Paris, where I specialized in lingerie and swimwear design, as I found it so intriguing and challenging to create something so minimal and chic,” says the young Arab designer.
What beach object would she have loved to design? “Definitely a beach chair, as I have a passion for interiors and furniture design. I also have an organic cotton beach towel in mind, and it might come to life at some point in the near future.”