For certain kinds of brands, absorbing the dollar cost of raising their moral and eco standards wouldn’t hurt them all that much. This is especially true of labels that already have pretty ridiculous margins, like those in the swimwear industry. As my dad likes to put it: “I have no idea how they can charge that much for so little material.” But seriously, girls (especially twenty-somethings, like me) have dozens on dozens of brands to choose from, targeted just at us, that are unbelievable at making a $200 string bikini top seem like a fair price. For me, I feel like those brands unfairly capitalize on the mantra that you can’t put a price on making a girl feel confident in a bikini, but (if we’re being real here), you kind of sort of can (and it’s probably not $300). I guess what I’m getting at is that it really bothers me that there’s a specific category in the fashion industry that could very easily shift to all ethical on this very day without a lot of heavy losses, but would rather continue to make gains off of girls’ insecurities and sacrifice the good of their workers and the environment than do so. It kind of wrings out my stomach, to be honest.
But then, on the upside, because swimwear is a bit easier of a category to pursue conscious clothing production in, it’s here that you’ll find a whole lot of people intent on doing good, the kind of people that know you aren’t “being the light, unless you’re spreading the light” (to paraphrase).
When Port and I first “discovered” all that was going wrong in the fashion industry and started to read up on the list of qualities that were important to look for in brands claiming to be ethical, I would almost always find my browser in a loop from articles on eco-fashion to the homepages of swimwear labels that had been used as examples. It was actually in the middle of one of these Google loops that I found Cantik. I can actually remember exactly where I was: sitting on our couch back home in Boston watching the Friends episode where Ross gets his teeth whitened. I have a truly awful memory, so the fact that I remember that can only mean two things: that that’s a pretty memorable episode & that Cantik is a pretty memorable brand.
Designed out of Sydney and ethically manufactured in Bali, Cantik has a completely transparent supply chain and the designer actually has a degree in Environmental Humanities & Development. This is one of those brands that I feel like would be incredibly successful even if they weren’t so devoted to a high moral standard, which makes it so great that they choose to be. The suits are very comfortable (they almost feel like velvet and go from damp to dry within ten minutes of getting out of the water). I also can really get onboard with their pattern skew (completely in love with the palm fronds one) and have the same swimsuit we photographed above in nude that’s perfect to wear as a bodysuit or just for a more neutral, subtle look. I love the high-cut sides, too, which I feel like solve the problem of a one piece occasionally making shorter legs appear a little stumpy (or maybe this is just a personal insecurity because I’m the youngest in a family of tall, long-legged girls).
I’ve always really loved the saying, “show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future,” meaning that those you surround yourself with are going to ultimately impact who you become. Whenever Porter and I seek out a brand to highlight on this platform, we try to apply that same mindset. Any brand we choose to talk about here or on Instagram is one we aspire to hold ourselves to the same moral standards as, to have the same drive within our own business as , and to have achieve the same level of creative ingenuity as. Cantik more than ticks those boxes, and whenever I happen to be wearing one of their suits (which is pretty often – I only packed 6 for this trip and 3 are theirs) and we happen to photograph them, I always notice something new in the cut or design or the way they hug a person’s body that I personally find really artistically motivating. To put it more simply, they’re just really fun bathing suits to photograph and to edit. They look good, I feel good in them, and they serve a purpose beyond wanting to achieve that for every girl who steps into their suits. I feel good about the future I see for us when we align ourselves with people like the team behind this label.
Anna Lisa & Porter