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We Can’t Believe It’s Hemp

Our newest swimwear line is all natural and gorgeous.

We speak to the designer, Natasha, about her inspirations.

Natasha Tonic Swimwear
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Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

 

I originally come from Belgrade, Serbia but I am half Croatian and live for more than a decade in Los Angeles. Before I landed to LA, I lived all around the world, including London, Baghdad, Prague and Frankfurt.

Due to the war in Serbia and the lack of fashion design schools when I grew up there, I studied several other topics including molecular biology, business and marketing. Fashion is something that I always wanted to study but was often discouraged. However, my passion for it stayed and I started learning on my own how to make patterns, sew, draw and do prints as well as photography. My communist grandmother from Croatia always had some fabric scraps inside her closet and would open it and make something out of nothing on a manual sewing machine and hand embroider table covers. Probably that is where my inspiration for sustainable fashion started.

 

How did you get into sustainable fashion?

 

My grandmother was inspiration as well as my mother. She refused to purchase polyester clothes for me because it would irritate my skin. Studying biology and our environment also opened my eyes to our role in helping to avoid Climate Change through the materials we use in our daily lives.

I don’t understand why there would be any kind of fashion other than sustainable fashion. Why would anybody want to wear something that is toxic? Our skin is our biggest organ and when we sweat, those toxins come in through our pores. It doesn’t make sense to wear unhealthy clothes yet eat healthy food. It defeats the purpose.

Natasha Tonic Swimwear
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Natasha Tonic swimwear is made from hemp, which may surprise some people. Tell us how you discovered this material and why it translates so well to swim?

 

Almost every summer I vacation in Croatia.  As you know there are many boats there and the Adriatic Sea is very salty. It doesn’t seem like this has anything to do with hemp fabric, but it does. The ropes that are tying the boats to the shore and sail canvas are mainly made out of hemp fibers throughout the centuries. I always thought if they could rely on tying a boat with hemp rope why not rely on hemp to be durable as a swimwear. I was surprised that nobody had tried that before. Since I love to discover new things, and dislike wearing polyester close to my body, I decided to test this fabric. I made my own bikini out of hemp/organic cotton and lycra for that extra stretch and comfort.

The next step was to personally test it to make sure that my idea is justified before bringing the swimwear to market. I went to Bribir, my little province of Croatia, and was swimming everyday for a month straight in the sea and in the pool to see if something bad would happen to this fabric. I rinsed it now and then with just water or sometimes even left it all salty to dry out in the harsh sun. When I came back to LA I tested it in hot tubs and it passed all tests.

 

Besides hemp being a durable and anti-microbial fabric, it also feels so comfortable and soft on your body. Swimming in hemp swimsuit feels way better than in polyester. You feel naked yet you are not. It feels very sexy.

 

What is the issue with typical swimwear being so unsustainable?

 

For centuries swimwear has been made out of nylon, polyester or polyamide fabrics because of its durability in water. These fabrics are the least sustainable according to me because they are made out of somewhat same things that plastic bottles are made from. Polyester is made from petrochemicals that are non-biodegradable. It can be recycled, but only into a lesser form of plastic. This again needs chemicals in order to be achieved. The reason why I don’t believe in polyester for fabric is because when we swim or wash our clothes, tiniest fibers of fabric get back into the water stream and sea world so in a way we again pollute nature all over again. I believe recycled plastic from bottles should be used for building basketball courts or something else so it has less chances to get back into the water stream. I am sure there are different opinions about this matter out there and I respect all of them since every day there are new discoveries when it comes to sustainable fashion.

Natasha Tonic Swimwear
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Do you think living in California inspired your commitment to ethical production?

 

My commitment to ethical production is based on caring about people that saw my clothes. Fashion companies can get carried away and try to get exactly what they want at the lowest cost for their fast profit, and that means that sewers pay the price by working extra hours, not being adequately paid, are tired, away from their family, and exposed to toxic fabric coatings that cause cancer. For me that is something I don’t wish for anyone to be exposed to.  I also like to know the people that sew my clothes and have a friendly relationship with them.

For any REV readers heading to LA, what are your favorite green destinations?

 

My favorite green destinations that are close to center of LA are Griffith Park, Tree People, Angeles National Forest and Crystal Cove State Park Beach. If you want to travel a bit further, Joshua Tree National Park is great.

 

Finally, what does sustainability mean to you?

 

When I think of sustainability I think of how to incorporate it in everyday life as much as I can. How to eat cleaner, use as much as possible organic food and cosmetic products, shop more at farmers markets, drive hybrid/electric car, drink from non plastic cups, recycle garbage and clothes and donate to places that plant trees.

 

I am not a person that makes people feel bad about their everyday choices. It was not easy for me in the beginning and it takes practice like anything else. Everyday I work on it and by no means I am perfect. What people should know is that one step at a time makes a big difference for the world. We all make mistakes sometimes but that should not discourage us from keep on trying as much as we can.