"You, me, we are Nature Girls. Through sharing, learning and listening to one another we can do better. By making the right choices in our daily lives and understanding how special this place we live in is, we can support a healthy future for our home."
The first of our designer series, below we talk to Alexandra Dash from Australian conscious swimwear label Shapes in the Sand about how the environment is the driving force behind the brand, what inspires her designs and how she navigates life in the most considered way.
Shapes in the Sand was born from a lifelong infatuation with nature and a heart yearning to help restore the environment. Having grown up in Sydney, the beach and swimwear was an important part of Alex’s lifestyle and after studying Fashion Design and Production, creating a label that combined her passion for both sustainability and swimwear, was a natural progression.
Photo: Designer - Alexandra Dash
The brand celebrates both the environment and the diversity of women—and that we are all made up of unique shapes. From its inclusive sizing and purpose driven designs, to drawing inspiration from the natural world for its vibrant prints through to the labels ongoing support of environmental and conservation projects—find out more about Shapes in the Sand and its mission to create positive change for both the environment and its inhabitants.
Can you tell us about the ethos behind Shapes in the Sand?
At Shapes in the Sand we have a holistic approach to sustainability and apply it to all areas of the brand—transparency within our supply chains, a plastic free approach to all our packaging and keeping the designing, printing and manufacturing on our shores here in Australia are all part of the labels values.
By working closely with our makers, we can make sure processes are done responsibly and build healthy relationships with our supply chain. Since the beginning recycled fabrications have been used to create collections.
My understanding that we are part of nature and not so different to its inhabitants, gives me the motivation to continue to protect it. Being able to combine two things that I care about so much to support positive change, I feel is something special.
What inspires your designs?
Shapes in the Sand is the embodiment of a love for the natural world, through drawing inspiration from nature and the diversity within it. Rather than focusing on trends, each season a natural environment or ecosystem is chosen to be the theme. Collections are designed around these themes, where we also have a strong focus on environmental concerns.
How do you bring your beautiful prints to life?
Each season I will either design the prints myself or work with a textile print or artist who helps bring our print story visions to life. We believe in not leaving anyone behind and working with those who have like-minded values is important to us. Collaborating with other creatives is part of who we are as a label—the designs from our most recent collection The Birds and The Bees have been hand-drawn by local textile artist Jessica Rosheen, whom we’ve worked with for the past couple of seasons.
Can you tell us about the fabrics you use for your swimwear?
We’ve been incorporating recycled fibre fabrications since the very beginning. Handmade from soft, high performance fabrics we currently have two main fabrications which we use in our collections. We use a fibre that is made from 100% regenerated materials derived from pre and post-consumer waste, which is then mixed with a small amount of Lycra xtra Life for extra strength and longevity.
In 2019 we introduced a bio-based yarn into our fabric collection, which is made from a totally renewable resource—oil from the castor bean. This fabric in particular has been a game changer for us as we continue our journey to working with more plant based fibres! All Shapes in the Sand fabrics are printed locally using a printing method that does not require water or any harsh chemicals by using this method our prints are rich, vibrant and colourfast.
You support many conservation projects through your designs, can you tell us more about this?
Our commitment to looking after the environment is a strong focus, where we support relevant wildlife and environmental projects and this also allows us to do our part for conservation and for our customers to also do their part when they choose to buy Shapes in the Sand swimwear.
Each collection is designed around a theme and an environmental issue—from here we will connect with a project or organisation, which we try support as much as we possibly can! Our past projects have included supporting WIRES Wildlife Rescue where we helped fund the build of a Koala rehabilitation enclosure through a specially designed Scribbly Gum eco print.
This season we are supporting BirdLife Australia and The Powerful Owl Project as part of their Urban Bird Program. Through this project our goal is to share the importance of our urban spaces for native birds while focusing on supporting the conservation efforts of the Powerful Owl—Australia’s largest owl that can be found in urban areas.
What is your current favourite Shapes in the Sand piece?
The Blossom Dancer Wireless Bikini Bra would be in my top favourites. The cut itself is one of the most comfortable bikini tops I have designed. It’s also one of my favourite print stories, inspiration was drawn from the Australian bush and a favourite childhood book—Snuggle Pot and Cuddle Pie by May Gibbs. Personally, I love mixing colour with black. The Blossom Dancer pretty much sums up my personality—playful, vivid and whimsical.
What are some tips to help protect and extend the life of your swimwear?
It’s really important to not wash your swimsuit in the washing machine—unless you use a laundry bag. The washing machine will not only shorten your swimsuit life but it may also release microfibres into the waterways and potentially the ocean. This is usually the case with any polyester fabrications that are either cheaply made with loosely knitted fibres or if it’s an old garment—luckily our swimwear is made from only the highest quality recycled and plant-based fibres.
I recommend rinsing your swimsuit as soon as you can under fresh water in a bucket or wherever is possible. It’s important to wash the salt water off, using a mild soap will also help and I don’t mind using cool-warm water either and then simply hang it out to dry.
Photo: Rashguard - Blossom Dancer
What are your tips to leading a more conscious lifestyle?
- Skip single use plastics for reusables wherever possible. Things to swap are coffee cups for keep cups, plastic straws for a metal or bamboo straw and cling wrap for beeswax wraps. I really dislike single use plastics and it’s something I still battle with on a daily basis. But if we can all take action for the simple items to begin with then it’s one step in the right direction.
- Choose to purchase less—only buy what you really need. Ask yourself before you buy that piece of clothing: Will I wear it at least 50 times? What will I do with it if I don’t? Who made it? What’s it made from? These are some of the questions I ask myself.
- Walk, bike or choose public transport where possible—I literally walk wherever I can. It’s something I love to do and knowing it’s reducing my carbon footprint makes it even more enjoyable. It really is one of the best ways to help the environment!
How do you slow down after a busy day?
My studio is within walking distance to the beach—every afternoon I take a walk and over spring-summer I add a swim in there too. Getting out into nature, sitting, watching and feeling its presence is the best way for me to slow down.
You can shop Shapes in the Sand at Cura Swim here