Inspired by a life growing up by the ocean, discover the Australian-born sustainable swimwear brand making a splash this season
Set up by Becky Morton, 30, swimwear brand Peony launched in 2014. Named after Becky’s favourite flower, which also signifies the start of spring, it has already built up an impressive cult following. Everyone from Bella Hadid to Spanish model, socialite and blogger, Gala Gonzalez can be found flaunting their wears on Instagram. It’s easy to see why, too. The brand is uncompromising on aesthetics as well as ethics. The garments are truly beautifully made, the fabrics are considered in every way and the pieces are thoughtfully designed in a way that makes them universally flattering. We caught up with Norton, who is currently glowing in the success of a recent collaboration with Net-A-Porter as part of their NET Sustain campaign.
“I grew up in Queensland, Australia,” she begins. “I have always been passionate about fashion and design – growing up I would sketch dresses in school books and on napkins at restaurants. I have no idea where my sense of creativity came from as my parents – a doctor and nurse – are the first to admit it didn’t come from them.” The eldest of four girls Morton was fortunate to grow up in South East Queensland, surrounded by some of the world’s most pristine beaches – and where summer reigns for a whole nine months of the year. “We lived in our bikinis and school holidays consisted of family holidays to Byron Bay and Noosa. I have so many memories of my three sisters and I running from beach to pool endlessly. For me, there was a very warm sense of association as well as a thorough understanding of what a great swimsuit looked like, so when I decided to pursue design, swimwear was the natural choice,” she tells us.
In 2007, Morton started a a double degree in Law and Business (majoring in International Business and Marketing) but after accepting a role as a trainee solicitor at a prestigious firm, realised she was craving creativity. “I felt a fire in my belly for something more and it didn’t take long for me to realise that it was time to pursue my dream of starting my own swimwear brand. Soon after that, I quit working at the law firm and started Peony.”
In May 2012 Morton started planning and by that December she was selling a small collection – 10 styles – on a market stall. “Our evolution has been very organic,” she says. “We listen very carefully to our customer. We have a deep understanding of what our customer wants because ultimately we are her too.” She describes her own style as understated and feminine, without being too girly. “I like to offset feminine elements with a bit of boyish charm, like sneakers with a dress or a sloppy jumper with silk pants. I have a very busy lifestyle so for me comfort is key.” All of which is reflected in the relaxed look of the brand – whimsical floral prints (pictured below), knotted details, a little strategically-placed ruching and flattering silhouettes. Colours within the collections are also designed to be easily mixed and matched.
As for sustainability, Peony has always been “environmentally mindful”, although this year they’ve really upped the ante and set the bar – rightly – high for the future. “We care about our environment and our community and we want to do better and be better, always. We look to the past for inspiration and to the future for innovation.” Morton explains. “The highlight of my career so far was creating a capsule collection exclusively for Net-A-Porter’s Net Sustain project that was made entirely from recycled and sustainable fabrications.” The pieces were created from the likes of nylon waste rescue and fishing nets which are stripped right back and then rewoven into fabric. “The collection debuted our in-house developed recycled and sustainable lining, which meant every layer of the swimwear was made from recycled content. This was a huge milestone.” Moving forward she insists that Peony will only use recycled and sustainable fabrications, doing their bit to preserve the oceans that she enjoyed so much as a child.
So, while you’re enjoying the beaches this summer – wherever that may be – you can do so with a clean fashion conscience. Shop Peony’s exclusive collection for Net Sustain, at Net-A-Porter.
- Words by Elaine Lloyd-Jones