Local designer with ethical line
A local designer is riding the wave of sustainable fashion with the launch of an environmentally friendly swimwear brand.
Kim Margareta Deuss, who has worked for close to a decade with such household names as Banana Republic, Champion, Jessica Simpson and Izod, says her line of swimwear is of high quality and built to last.
Called Daughters of Summer, the brand uses materials derived from ocean plastic, fishing line, carpets and even landfill waste and is made by companies engaged in “high ethical standards”.
Her swimwear line will also be featured in British Vogue this summer.
“I’ve always wanted to do something positive,” she said.
“If I can create garments that are better for the earth rather than polluting it, then I am contributing in a positive way.
“I’m not doing ‘fast fashion’ because that means you are constantly producing new product and trying to get customers to purchase more, which is not eco-friendly. So I am trying to make pieces that have an element of timelessness, but are still youthful.”
Ms Deuss, 35, was born in New York City, but moved to Bermuda when she was young.
Raised in Smith’s, she attended the Bermuda High School before completing Saltus Grammar School’s graduate year. At age 17, she moved to Paris and then New York, to study at Parsons School of Design.
The stepdaughter of the late veterinarian and marine conservationist Neil Burnie, she has always cared deeply about the natural environment. She returned to Bermuda to live after his death from a swimming accident in 2014.
“Neil really inspired me to follow my dreams,” she said.
“Growing up in a place like Bermuda and having really cool people in my life definitely inspired me.
“I moved back to the island after he died — it didn’t feel right to be away from Bermuda because there is that real connection here with him; everyone has a story about him.”
According to Forbes magazine, the fashion search engine Lyst reported a 47 per cent surge last year in shoppers looking for items with “ethical and style credentials”.
Daughters of Summer, which was officially launched at The Loren last week along with lifestyle consultancy firm Sproosy, is made using a waterless printing technique with no chemical or dye run-off.
Produced under Ms Deuss’ scompany Beyond Now Apparel, it uses recycled materials such as Lyocell and is sustainable across all levels of production. Ms Deuss uses manufacturers in the United States rather than cheaper alternatives in Asia. Even her packaging is 100 per cent recycled; the envelopes are dye free and the labels made from recycled polyester.
“I get my fabric from Italy and my manufacturers are in New York City, which makes it easy for me to oversee production or development.
“My fulfilment is in Michigan, so I am not having to go to Asia and back to America for distribution, which a lot of people do because it is cost effective. A lot of factories don’t treat their workers well, but the ones I use are getting living wages — it is more expensive to live in the States so the garments are not cheap.
“A lot people think the garments will be low quality or think it is gross to use waste but it is exactly the same components as regular polyester and it looks the same, if not better. It has a sheen so it looks expensive.”
Daughters of Summer bikini bottoms and tops are sold separately. Prices range from $80 to $100; one-piece suits start at $180.
“It is not a budget brand — I am calling it affordable luxury,” Ms Deuss said.
Learn more about Daughters of Summer at daughters-of-summer.com