OceanZen - Sustainable Swimwear Made From Recycled Materials

OceanZen

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Location

Australia

Made In

Bali & China

Values

  • Circularity Circularity
  • Fair Fair
  • Gender Equality Gender Equality
  • Vegan Vegan

“Swimwear that’s good for the soul and good for the planet.”

… and good for your sustainable swimwear cred.

OceanZen is an Australian-based company providing conscious consumers with stylish, well-made and sustainable swimwear that doesn’t compromise on quality or aesthetics. 

According to WWF, between 500,000 to 1 million tons of fishing gear are discarded or lost in the ocean every year – gear that is a silent killer of marine life. Led by Steph Gabriel, a bikini engineer and qualified Environmental Scientist, the team at OceanZen is on a mission to clean up our oceans, and they are helping to do this by utilising a specific kind of material (which you will hear more about later). 

The OceanZen team has a strong respect for both the people who craft the swimwear and the planet from which the materials are taken, which is why they take every possible action to have as minimal a negative footprint as possible. How, you ask? Dw, were about to share.

Ethics

The manufacturer OceanZen works with to create the swimwear follows strict ethical practices and is Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) certified. This essentially means that protocols surrounding labour, health and safety, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours, fair trade renumeration and more are adhered to.

Fabrics

Tbh, OceanZen is kind of a big deal. In 2014 they pioneered a soft, strong, durable fabric that utilises the removal of marine debris from the oceans. All OceanZen swimwear is crafted from a regenerated nylon fabric that is made from recycled ocean waste, including plastic bottles and fishing nets. By using waste to create this fabric, OceanZen is not relying on virgin materials to create their swimwear. Oh, and it’s all 100% OEKO-TEX certified, from the thread and fabric to the hardware used. 

Trims and packaging

As you can probably tell, OceanZen is not a fan of disposable plastic, which is why there is no plastic used in the packaging or transportation of their garments. The swimwear is sent out to you in a reusable cotton drawstring bag, the shipping satchels are 100% biodegradable and home compostable, the swing tags are made of recyclable paper, the hygiene stickers are 100% compostable, and any leftover fabric from the swimwear-creating process is used to create hair scrunchies.

OceanZen is a company wholly dedicated to providing a stylish and sustainable solution to a massive, widespread problem. By utilising ocean waste to create their garments, minimising their wastage and, of course, ensuring an ethical mode of production is adhered to, OceanZen is playing their part not only asking for a more environmentally and socially responsible fashion industry, but also in cleaning up our precious big blue playground.

Want to know where OceanZen sits and what they’re working on in terms of these 5 values? Hover over these values to find out.

Behind the Brand

“Back in 2013/2014, sustainable swimwear wasn't a thing, I'm not even sure if it was really a phrase to be used. I'm really proud to say that OceanZen was a leader in this, and I am so proud of that”.

Steph Gabriel

Steph Gabriel OceanZen founder

What made you start OceanZen?

I started OceanZen almost 8 years ago when I was studying my degree in Environmental Science and Marine conservation. My lifestyle was heavily based around the ocean and I was more passionate about conservation and sustainability rather than going down the research path that some graduates go down. Through my degree I was able to be involved in some incredible research projects around the world. I lived in the Galapgos Islands for 5 months and Indonesia for 4 months and I really saw how plastic pollution was effecting the ocean and marine life. This only made me more passionate about wanting to educate people on where their waste goes and what happens to plastic. When I discovered a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets from the ocean it aligned so much with my beliefs and values around recycling and plastic pollution so next minute OceanZen was born.

Do you have a morning routine? If so what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?

I’m an early riser, love to wake up at 5 and watch the sunrise, exercise and go for a morning swim all before starting work around 8-9ish.

What’s the biggest barrier you’ve found to succeeding as a socially conscious business?

The cost of manufacturing a sustainable product is a lot higher compared to manufacturing a non-sustainable product and it’s taken a long time to get to a point where I could start to take a wage for myself. The certifications, recycling process, ethical dying process etc it takes so much time and cash flow. It’s hard to get ahead but sustainability to me is not a trend, it’s my lifestyle and it’s who I am so manufacturing something that is not sustainable just doesn’t align at all.

Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question that we ask which is ‘who made my clothes?’. In the scope of OceanZen, who made your swimwear? Can you tell us a bit about them?

Every year we get behind Who made my clothes, it’s great to see that Fast Fashion brands are starting to be questioned by their consumers on this. Our manufacturers in Bali and China follow strict ethical business practices and is Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) certified which guarantees ethical compliance regarding labour, heath and safety, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours, fair trade remuneration and much more. It is so important to us that our manufacturer understands the importance of ethical and sustainable practices and processes and we are lucky to have the support of our production team across all stages of production.

Why did you pick the fabrics you have chosen to work with?

Back in 2013/2014, sustainable swimwear wasn’t a thing, I’m not even sure if it was really a phrase to be used. I’m really proud to say that OceanZen was a leader in this, and I am so proud of that. Our fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets from the ocean and after researching and swimming with incredible animals in the ocean like whales, sharks and sea lions it made sense to use a fabric that hauled waste from the ocean and regenerated it into a yarn.

Best piece of advice you have ever received?

“Your passion is your purpose” by Lisa Messenger.

What’s next for you and OceanZen?

About 5 years ago we started running group trips for women to come and swim with wild humpback whales in Tonga with us but with international border closures we have been running our @oceanzentravel retreats to the Great Barrier Reef and they always book out months in advance. My love for travel and creating unique experiences, and bringing together like minded women to show them the beautiful ocean lights my soul on fire. OceanZen is naturally pivoting from sustainable swimwear to sustainable group trips and I love it 🙂

One book and/or documentary everyone should read/watch? Why?

I love Peta Peta Kelly’s book ‘Earth is Hiring’. It is really inspiring, it hits home for me about levelling up as a human. I really feel my soul purpose on this planet is environmentalism! Anything David Attenborough is also amazing!

Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?

My beautiful friend Caitlyn Overell has recently launched a sustainable nude under label called The Unseen Label. She is doing amazing things in creating an inclusive brand for all skin shades and body types!

Shop OceanZen here.

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