Swimwear made from recycled fishing nets? At just 26, Australian designer Elle Evans, has created a gorgeous range or swimwear and activewear made from discarded fishing nets, but you’d never know. She tells us about her vision to reconnect with the entire process of creating beautiful clothing.
A Good On You writer caught up with Elle to get the down low on her sustainable range that’s making a difference. Elle Evans has been rated Good .
At the age of four, most of us are smearing paint onto butcher’s paper. Elle Evans, on the other hand, had already designed and produced her very first swimsuit. It may have been for her doll Anna, but it was prophetic – she now creates swimwear with cutting-edge designs (made from recycled fishing nets, of all things!). We’ve fallen in love.
Florida Onepiece in pineapple print
I guess I never really stopped sewing. It was always what I loved doing, and I never thought I would do anything else other than design or sew.”
I tell Elle I’m jealous she found a career so early in life. But it’s then I realise I’m mistaken – hers is not a career, but a calling. Her grandmother was a seamstress who sewed until she could no longer see. Her grandfather was a sewing machine mechanic, and Elle has many a childhood photo in which she and her sister are clad in matching swimsuits handcrafted by her mum. Nostalgia and unbridled creativity shine through in her swimwear designs. They cut new and refreshing shapes, a world away from the typical standard bikini.
Discover more ethical fashion in the Good On You app!
Tanlines Bikini in soft recycled lycra. Hurry up, Summer.
“What stays with me the most, is the patience my mother and grandmother showed in sewing, knitting and creating,” Elle says. “And how that bond between maker and garment strengthens when you take your time and go slow.”
Her philosophy reminds me of a by-gone era where clothes were crafted and cared for – not mass produced and quickly disposed of. “Because of the way the industry operates, designers can send a design off and it comes back as the final product they have no idea what’s happened to that garment in between, or where it’s going, or where it’s going to end up.” Elle took a new approach to crafting her range.
From Fishing Nets to a Fabulous Finish
Elle creates swimwear and activewear from post-consumer waste fabrics. She’s hands-on at every stage from design through to production. It’s this deep level of involvement that allows her to feel connected to the end product, serving as a reminder that everything she creates has an impact on the environment.
“I always ask – is this the right thing for the business and the world? It’s actually a lot easier being sustainable from the beginning,” she explains. “I see these companies having to backtrack, to make themselves more sustainable. It’s difficult going back on practices that have been in place forever.”
“We were using remnant fabric in the beginning, but as we’re getting bigger it’s almost too difficult to do that. Now, most of the time, we’re using a recycled nylon called ECONYL – a material created from pre and post consumer waste material. Basically, the fabric is made from dredged up fishing nets, but you wouldn’t know that’s where it comes from.”
Side on: Florida Onepiece in check print
Elle assures me: “ECONYL is a beautiful fabric, and it prints beautifully as well.”
There’s no doubt the label has struck a chord with Aussie ladies, both in and now out of the water. “It was a logical next step to go from swimsuits into active wear, especially as there was a bit of a crossover,” she says. “We sell to a lot of chicks who are into paddle boarding and things like that – they can use their active wear in the water.”
Extending the label to active-wear design was a business-savvy move, as was Ellie’s determination to market the brand, firstly and fore-mostly, on its design credentials. She wants her customers to be dazzled by her prints and designs.
“I want them to buy it because it’s going to look amazing on the beach or by the pool. But as an added bonus it’s sustainable, and along the way they can learn why that’s exciting and important.”
Elle Evans Activewear: Tropica Crop and Leggings
When I ask Elle if she’d like to be the next ‘it’ label, she says, without a hint of insincerity, “I don’t want to get to that point where it’s so big you have this disconnect with the end product. Then you’re doing that same thing that the big companies are doing with clothing.”
Her business partner is her pal Tanya, and she cites her family and friends as a source of inspiration in life. “I’ve definitely had moments when I’ve wondered if I’m doing the right thing. My friends and family always tell me to trust my instincts. Nothing is more inspiring than having a support network.”
Elle may have found the secret to life: find your passion, turn it into a business, and surround yourself with family and friends who believe in you.
Good On You rates Elle Evans as ‘Great’. Check out more ethical ratings on the Good On You app!