In our latest edition of ‘8Shades Of’, we’re talking to lifestyle influencer turned swimwear designer, Ellie Furuya. A former social media manager and regional programmer at National Geographic, you might recognise Ellie from Instagram (@furellie), where she shares beauty tips, travel snaps and delicious eats with her 50k followers.
Ellie has now taken the plunge into fashion design by founding her own eco-conscious swimwear line, Rii Swim; its entire range of sleek, sophisticated designs are made from Econyl, a revolutionary recycled fabric created from ocean waste.
We chat with Ellie about her eco habits, fave veggie dishes and what inspired her to create sustainable swimwear:
1. In one sentence, tell us what you do?
I design swimwear that fuses timeless style with eco-innovation.
2. Why are you an 8Shader?
I learned so much about climate change and plastic pollution during my time at National Geographic. The brand’s culture of sustainability permeated our daily working routine to the extent that it became engrained; I became much more conscious of my habits around waste and plastic consumption. It was also heart-breaking to see animals affected by our consumption habits daily, so I’m glad I found Econyl fabric – it takes discarded harmful fishing nets and regenerates them into recyclable eco-nylon.
3. What’s your best eco habit – and your guilty not-so green one?
My best eco habit is bringing my litre water bottle everywhere I go! It really cuts down on the beverages I purchase on-the-go in the long run. My not-so-green one is ordering takeaway food on delivery apps.
4. Fave eco product or brand?
The brand that inspired me to start my Econyl swimwear line was Mara Hoffman; I love her simple, minimalistic swimwear styles. Her range also uses Econyl, which I found to be just as high quality and luxurious feeling as swimwear that uses standard nylon, which requires crude oil for its production.
5. Fave veggie dish in Hong Kong?
I recently had a Japanese mountain yam with summer vegetables and spring onion dashi dish by Shane Osborn at his Tatler Dining Kitchen pop-up for The Arcane Collective that completely blew me away! Other veggie dishes I really like here are the beignets de fleurs de courgette with marinara sauce at LPM Restaurant & Bar, grilled peaches with labneh at Bedu, harissa-roasted cauliflower at Maison Libanaise and Impossible chilli fries at The Butcher’s Club Burger… Sorry, I couldn’t pick just one!
6. What was the most challenging aspect of developing an eco-conscious swimwear line?
Trying to stay consistently eco-friendly in all aspects of the brand, especially packaging. There are so many minuscule details that are easy to overlook when you’re starting a business with no prior knowledge in the area – things like finding recycled paper to print labels and tags on.
7. What’s your ultimate goal for Rii Swim?
To normalise the use of eco-friendly fabric in swimwear, and for people to reduce wastage when buying swimwear. To be super honest, I used to be one of those people who would buy swimsuit after swimsuit online and end up with a pile of never-used swimwear stashed away in my closet. My hope is that these essential and timeless designs will stay with their owners forever, given the proper love and care.
8. What shade of green are you and why?
Emerald green. I’ve always found it to be such a versatile colour that isn’t too loud or overbearing yet screams elegance – and it’s the best shade of green to wear as an accessory or statement shoe colour.