Aurai Swimwear founder: Natalia Bertolo
How did AURAI SWIMWEAR come about?
I grew up in one of Brazil's most important leather & footwear production hubs, and saw first hand the extension of the environmental impact of the local industry over the years. That ultimately inspired me to write my University thesis about sustainability in fashion and the designer’s responsibility, almost 8 years ago. AURAI SWIM is somehow a next step, a platform to put the theory into practice, to challenge myself and hopefully to challenge other businesses to view fashion (especially the design process) in a more cohesive and conscious way.
Your collections carefully handmade at a small family-owned atelier in your hometown in southern Brazil where you source the materials locally. What does this process look like?
Print designs, patterns and samples are made by me and the team here in Auckland, and sent to Brazil once approved. Manufacturing in my hometown has always been an imperative for me, not only because you find amazing skilled workers there (and you can make sure their wages and working conditions are above standards) but also because it’s my way to give back to the local economy, which has suffered a lot with the shift of manufacturing in China. Our fabric Amni Eco Soul, as well as all trims, tags and labels are all sourced from local companies too.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I love creative hi-lo aesthetic, when you have one element of your outfit that’s a statement piece. T-shirt, jeans and a killer shoe always makes a good combo, right? I’m a 2nd hand shopper, especially when travelling, which is a great way to find unique pieces without spending much.
Your collections are beautiful, how would you describe the women who wear your designs?
Our customers are confident and unpretentious, they value style associated with quality, versatility and durability. They understand their buying power and most of them are already in their own journey towards becoming more conscious individuals, regardless of age.
As a beach lover yourself, do you have a favourite pair of AURAI swimmers?
I’m very active so I love the crop tops (check the Malibu top!) because they offer perfect support and comfort to exercise on the beach. Nothing better than a swim after a beach run session! Also, they are very stylish and easily go from beach to bar (because we also need to rehydrate!).
We know you are very waste conscious and your materials include ECONYL® and AMNI SOUL ECO®. What is one thing our readers can do on an everyday scale to minimise their carbon footprint?
There are a number of things we can do daily to reduce our carbon footprint, and a “biggie” is to reduce our waste: buy most of your products in refillery shops, use reusable bags, coffee cups, straws, and also containers for your takeouts. It’s easy and natural once it becomes a habit.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Do you have any advice you would give to someone wanting to start their own brand?
We love to read stories about people having good ideas and just going for it, but what we don’t realise is that usually it doesn’t go well for most of the companies that start that way. I believe in planning, I believe it’s important to have a great understanding of the market and the product you want to sell and have as much technical knowledge as possible, especially in the niche of sustainability.
How would you like women to feel when wearing your swimwear?
I want them to feel comfortable and confident. There is nothing sexier than a confident woman in a bikini.
Lastly, what’s next for Aurai Swimwear?
Last year we focused on inclusiveness, adding a size to our size curve and converting most of our tops into mastectomy-friendly designs. For our SS19/20 collection, we are tackling another problem within the fashion industry which is circularity, starting with our own. The questions was “how to reuse off cuts, fabric leftovers from our previous collections, and still keep a fresh look?”. The result was modular patterns that allow even the smallest pieces of fabric to be (re)used, while combining colours from different palettes to make a new one.