Eco swimwear brand Aurai will join the designer line-up of the Good Sustainable Style Show at New Zealand Fashion Week on September 2.
Created by Italo-Brazilian Auckland-based designer Natalia Bertolo, Aurai swimsuits are made from ECONYL, a polymide fibre made from 100 per cent regenerated fibre made from pre and post-consumer nylon waste including nylon plastic scraps, old carpets and fishnets.
For her SS18/19 collection (which will feature on the runway) she is also introducing Amni Soul Eco®, made from a polyamide with an improved formulation that accelerates biodegradation in the anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment, common in most landfills.
"Traditionally, a polyamide fibre takes decades to disintegrate. In tests, the yarn biodegraded by 50 per cent in just over one year, and we estimate that after 28 months, Amni Soul Eco® will biodegrade 100 per cent. As the clothes break down quicker, the impact on landfills is reduced," says Bertolo.
"Until not long ago, to make swimwear we relied almost exclusively on fabrics made with a mix of polyester and elastane, both synthetic fibres. Following new developments in the sustainable textile industry, we now have some amazing options."
Bertolo has also collaborated with breast cancer survivor Karin Horen on a “One of Us” collaboration to create mastectomy-friendly swimwear after Horen approached Bertolo to design a bikini she could not find. Most Aurai SS18/19 pieces will be mastectomy-friendly and part of the profits from some of the styles will be donated to Paddle for Hope, Karin’s charity which raises funds for cancer rehabilitation.
Aurai Swimwear launched in 2016, with Bertolo's mission to offer amazing high-quality eco and ethical swimwear at an affordable price, and in the process to promote slow fashion and show that eco and ethical fashion has to do with a company's mission, not with its aesthetic.
Bertolo says her approach to design is her point of difference. "Lots of brands offer beautiful products, but not so many have a cohesive view when designing them. For me, it's essential to consider the most sustainable materials, manufacturing impact, functionality, aesthetic versatility, durability and discard.
"I really like to explore the contrast between minimalist and clean designs with bold colours and prints," she adds.
Speaking to the name of her brand, Bertolo says she has always been fascinated with Greek mythology, and so when she found the name Aurai (Aurai, in Greek mythology, are the winged nymphs of the breezes that travelled all over the world through the sea carrying messages for the Gods) the synergy between the meaning and the brand's DNA was too hard to ignore.
When approached to be a part of the Good Sustainable Style Show at NZ Fashion Week, Bertolo was immediately excited. "It's such a great honour to be part of the show, not only because it's promoted by one of my favourite magazines, but also because it's the very first time an eco and ethical fashion show is taking place during New Zealand Fashion Week."
Audiences can expect to see Aurai's SS18/19 collection down the runway, which pays homage to one of Brazil’s biggest icons, Carmen Miranda.
"Her powerful vocals, her pure-joy rolling eyes under those boomerang eyebrows, her infectious smile and her athletic legs on the 7-inch platform shoes helped her turn into a true legend. A maker of her own costumes, in 1946 Carmen exceeded herself with some gravity-defying, eye-popping pieces for her new movie “Copacabana”. Unfortunately, the technicolour preparation process took so long the producers decided to do it in B&W. Copacabana cries for colour, and so did Carmen," says Bertolo.
"This collection is inspired by this curious story, duelling both black and white and colour version of the same prints, and of course mixing and matching like there is no tomorrow. It also plays with a few adorable clichés such as the beaded fruits and the ruffles…big ruffles. This collection was a challenge, because at the end of the day we are still minimalists. But it was also a great exercise of how a very extra figure like Carmen can be translated into a contemporary and eco collection for the beach babes of the 21st Century."
To reduce environmental impact, Aurai swimwear always used high quality, sustainable textiles to make garments as durable as possible, in order to prolong life span.
A designer with big dreams for the future of fashion, Bertolo is also conscious of being realistic in regards to the future of the industry.
"Right now, eco and ethical fashion is a "bubble up" movement. Lots of small independent brands making amazing things. But if we really want a big shift in the industry we need to hope (and push) for a "trickle down" one. We need more big brands to engage in the movement," she says.
For more on Auria Swimwear, visit auraiswimwear.com and to buy tickets to the Good Sustainable Style show, click here.