5 Hong Kong swimwear brands to wear this summer

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Elizabeth Choi checks out five hot local swimwear brands making waves around the world

Hongkongers may be known for their addiction to high-end fashion but what the city’s subtropical climate really calls for is simple, high quality, stylish swimwear. Entrepreneurs and designers in the city are finally starting to think that way too. So, without further ado, here are five local brands to help you enjoy our beloved SAR’s marathon summers. It won’t be cooling down any time soon.

Momoco
Buying a bikini can be a frustrating task for ladies. Beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes, but swimwear companies only want to fit them into standarised and often unrealistic cuts. This challenge is exactly what inspired Itza Bocken to start her own brand, Momoco, with the mission to make bikinis for ‘real women with real bodies’.

Each of Momoco’s designs and prints are available in three different bikini top styles (triangle, bandeau and bra-style) and three different bottom styles (European, Brazilian and high waist). A fun catalogue style, Momoco’s ‘Flip & Pick’ system lets you visualise and customise your own combination of top and bottom by using a clever and nostalgic childhood flipbook method. “When a client orders an XL Brazilian bottom, that makes me really, really happy!” Bocken shares. “She gets it and she wears what she feels good in. Women should be able to choose a bikini without having to compromise.” momocobikini.com.


Made in Paradise
“Swimwear in Hong Kong is the same as it is worldwide – lame, boring and overpriced,” says Maurice Maghnagi, cofounder and director of streetwear brand Made in Paradise (MIP). From its 2013 debut collection to this season’s current line, it’s clear that MIP is very much about making an impression. Maghnagi’s favourite prints this season feature ‘Munchies’ – a delicious array of pretzels and potato chips – and ‘Drank’ –  a visual homage to the ghetto cocktail, sizzurp. “Each of our designs tells a story,” says Maghnagi. “We take people back to relive those delinquent moments and the good times.”

This year MIP dipped its toe into womenswear with a series of cheeky, fitted tees and ‘barely there’ trunks. They certainly emphasise certain ‘features’ but then again, that’s the whole point. “Our designs are a way to subtlely express and embrace, your inner deviant... It’s what gives us character in a world built around nonsense trends and restrictive social parameters.” Swimwear with that much sensibility is hard to pass up. Available at Lovers & Friends, Shop 106, 1/F, The Pulse, 28 Repulse Beach Rd, 2501 5355; 1800-paradise.com.

Triangl
With more than 2.7 million Instagram followers and a swimsuit in the closet of Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Kendall Jenner, it’s almost hard to believe Triangl started amid such dire straits. Two years before the business took off in 2013, founders Craig Ellis and Erin Deering were allegedly at their wits end, living off tinned food in Central. Then, like many other local swimwear designers, the couple found a gap to exploit – selling stylish, sporty suits for under $800 online.

After phoning friends for loans, the ambitious duo set out to design what are now recognised as signature Triangl suits – bold black lines, strong geometric patterns constructed in durable Neoprene and micro-mesh. By December 2014, the company had amassed nearly US$5 million worth of sales, with Kendall Jenner snapping a photo of herself in one suit for all five million of her followers to see. The rest, as they say, is history. triangl.com.

Sandbucket
Life’s a beach, unless you have nothing to wear. Avid surfer and Sandbucket founder Romain Pitz saw a huge gap in the men’s swimwear market between ‘Vilebrequin, which is ridiculously expensive and standard surf brands. There was nothing in the middle’, Pitz explains. “I want to create a brand encompassing discovery, travel and having fun, without being tied to just
‘surf’ specifically.”

Sandbucket’s minimalist approach to design is a thoughtful one. The material is soft enough to be worn around the city but tried and tested for the water. The colour-block patterns come in vibrant hues that are bright without being flashy, while the understated prints add some dimension. For a guy that wants a quality pair of trunks in and out of the water, this brand is one to keep an eye on. sandbucket-apparel.com.

Kea
For Patricia Kwok, blending city life with ocean affinities is the nexus of her designs for Kea. “I’m a city girl at heart,” Kwok says. “But back when I lived in New York, I would catch the subway to go surf before work. The city to sea routine made me appreciate the value of simple, mindful gear that looks great and does the work.”

While women’s swimwear is typically associated with string bikinis and thongs, Kwok thinks sporty swimwear should be dominating the beach bunny look. “People [are] pursuing healthier active lifestyles these days,” she observes. “In Hong Kong, I’ve noticed that triathlons, swimathons and adventure races are getting more crowded each year. Looking further afield, surf yoga retreats for women are hugely popular and a great market for Kea.”

A former merchandiser for Tory Burch, Kwok’s love for surfing pairs well with her desire to create swimwear she’d wear herself. And when she’s not working on Kea, she’s out on her board. Available at the Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance St, Central, 3916 8888; keagear.com.

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