3 New Local Hawai‘i Swimwear Brands to Sizzle in This Summer
Hit the beach in fresh releases from Native Hawaiian designers and eco-friendly swimsuit lines.
With summer swells and lazy beach days upon us, add new pieces to your swimwear stash from these three up-and-coming local brands.
Empowering women and challenging beauty norms are driving forces behind Leimakani Swimwear. As a young girl growing up in Hilo, designer-owner Kali‘a Wasson never felt confident enough to wear a swimsuit in public. Today, her line is putting her on the map—in 2021, she became the first Native Hawaiian to show at Miami Swim Week—thanks to its Hawai‘i-inspired prints and flattering fits made for a wide variety of body types.
Determined to create more opportunities for Native Hawaiian and Polynesian talents, Wasson also co-founded the Hawai‘i Swim Show, which debuted on Hawai‘i Island in 2022. During this year’s September showcase, keep an eye out for Leimakani’s new accessories, including fun plumeria-patterned slides and bucket hats and matching couples’ swimwear.
For Tyler King, being Native Hawaiian and caring for the environment have always gone hand in hand. Her culture imbued in her a deep respect for the natural world that shines through in her Tai Swim line. As a teen, King upcycled fishing nets into swimwear for classmates at ‘Iolani School.
Now, the Kailua-based designer employs sustainable fabrics such as Repreve, a performance fiber made from recycled plastic bottles, and Vita Carvito, a regenerated nylon rated SPF 50-plus, as backdrops for her lovely hand-drawn botanical artwork. King intentionally opts for indigenous species, such as wiliwili and kou. Her new Hilo print, created with husband Austin, is inspired by the town’s lush lau‘ae ferns and kukui flowers.
In 2020, Mahea Gambill and Kelly Pila, friends from Hilo High School, channeled their shared passion for design and sustainability into Coconut Ave, their swimwear label built around eco-friendly fabrics and manufacturing practices. We’re big fans of its clean-lined silhouettes that, while wonderfully unfussy, feature playful details, such as half-moon cutouts, twists and lacing.
The brand’s tropical prints come courtesy of Gambill, a graphic designer by trade, and range from dreamy sunset shells and palaka to dainty hau flowers and a flecked bronze pattern that mimics the striking coat of the Hawaiian pueo. In 2023, the duo opened a beach-chic boutique in Kona where you’ll also find Coconut Ave’s breezy new resortwear.
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