Ellie Furuya Rii Swim

8Shades Of… Ellie Furuya Of Rii Swim

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: 

Source: Rii Swim

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.

Source: Rii Swim

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. 

Source: Rii Swim

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. 

Follow Ellie on Instagram @furellie and learn more about Rii Swim

See also: 8Shades Of… Peggy Chan of Grassroots Initiatives

sustainable swimwear brands

Make a Splash In These 8 Sustainable Swimwear Brands

No matter how you’re spending your summer – on the beach, book in hand, on a junk boat or having a dawn surfing session, you need a good swimsuit that makes you feel confident – that’s a non-negotiable! And while you’re enjoying the ocean, why not find a swimsuit that’s helping clean it up at the same time? Here are eight sustainable swimwear brands that should be on your radar this summer. 


Ozero Swimwear

ozero swimwear sustainable
Source: Ozero Swimwear

Based in Malaysia, Ozero Swimwear targets those living in the tropics. Its products are made from Econyl, a regenerated nylon fibre made from recovered plastic waste like fishing nets and industrial plastic. The material also provides shape retention and UV protection, and is resistant to chlorine and sunscreen. We love their simplistic designs with vibrant colours, particularly this reversible orange one piece with straps that can be styled in two ways!


Batoko 

batoko swimwear
Source: Batoko

Batoko’s swimwear is made from trash, but the end result is far from it. Besides using recycled plastic waste that would otherwise end up in landfills or the ocean and ensuring that it reduces its energy usage wherever possible, Batoko makes a concerted effort to donate regularly to marine conservation organisations. Their brand features so many fun and playful prints that it’s difficult to choose our favourite, but we love these shark and lobster one pieces. 


Stay Wild 

stay wild sustainable swimwear
Source: Stay Wild

Based in London, Stay Wild is a women-owned business that makes all of their swimsuits locally out of regenerated ocean plastic, Econyl and Tencel, the latter of which is biodegradable and compostable. Every part of their products are recycled and recyclable (including the tags)! All of their products feature clean, structured lines and a flattering fit, but these briefs will hold everything in and keep you looking perfectly cool on the scorching hot beaches of Hong Kong. 


Vitamin A

vitamin a
Source: Vitamin A

When founder Amahlia Stevens set out to create an eco-friendly swimwear line, she was told there was no market for swimwear made from recycled fibres – so she made her own, working with manufacturers to create EcoLux, a swim fabric made from recycled nylon fibres. Besides this, Vitamin A uses other sustainable yet high-performing fabrics like organic cotton, linen, recycled cotton and Tencel. From loungewear to bikinis and bodysuits, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something you don’t like at Vitamin A! This blue cut-out bralette will help you stand out from the crowd.


Zaffre

zaffre sustinab'e swimwear
Source: Zaffre

One of our local sustainable swimwear brands, Zaffre is relatively new to the swimwear scene, having launched in February 2020. Its swimwear is made with MIPAN Regan, which is regenerated nylon filament yarn, and Repreve, made from regenerated ocean waste, and its manufacturing process saves over 30% of energy compared to conventional garment-making! With free shipping for orders in Hong Kong, shopping for sustainable swimwear locally has never been so easy! Check out this beautiful olive green one-piece with detachable straps – no tan lines!


August Society

august society swimsuit
Source: August Society

Based in Singapore and crafted from materials like Econyl, rPET and Xtralife Lycra, August Society’s swimwear is not only beautiful and eco-friendly, but functional as well. Their signature Valencia one-piece is reversible – two for the price of one! They also offer multiple collections for men and kids as well, which include rash guards and patterned suits, allowing you to coordinate your swimsuits with your family’s! Plus, their products come delivered in plant plastic pouches that biodegrade over time.


September

september sustainable swimwear
Source: September

For our surfer gals, September is the brand for you! Blending flattering and feminine lines with athletic performance, September makes its swimwear with recycled fabrics made from ghost fishing nets and even old carpets! Its swing tags and packaging are also made from recycled materials. We love this burnt orange structured bikini top, but we also have to give a shout out to their gorgeous one pieces, which have such beautiful details, like this one in burnt sienna


Rimmba 

rimmba swimwear
Source: Rimmba

Rimmba is based and manufactured in Bali and takes the utmost care in all stages of their production process, from sourcing and dyeing the fabrics to manufacturing and packaging. The brand’s name means “deep virgin forest” and it aims to create pieces that are sustainable and ethical from the material stage to the user disposal stage. It makes its pieces with Vita by Carvico, a durable fabric made from 100% regenerated post-consumer waste, as well as 100% natural dyes. Rimmba also provides a guide to repurposing its products after use! We love this flattering sporty-style bikini top (actually, we want the whole bikini set)!

See also: How To… Have A Sustainable Boat Trip


No matter how you’re spending your summer, spend it in a swimsuit that makes you feel comfortable and confident, while being kind to Mother Earth! We hope this guide to sustainable swimwear brands will inspire you to have the best, eco-friendly summer yet!