Women's surf brands actually started by women, unfortunately, didn't happen till much later in the story of beach culture and surfing.
When looking at the history of bikinis, you'll quickly realize one strange thing. The first bikinis were designed by men. Simultaneously, the bikini freed women from gaudy beach attire while sexually objectifying them.
Even as women surf brands such as Roxy was founded in the early ’90s, they were only a marketing move by the larger male-dominated surf company founders. In turn, their marketing created an objectification of how female surfers were portrayed in ads and marketing. You have probably seen the thong-ass shot of women as they paddle out.
For some women, minimal surfwear shows their feelings about their right to being comfortable in the water. Resisting any notion they should repress their body and sexuality.
However, surfwear needs to also serve a purpose. Apart from sexuality, function is an important factor in any sport. Small bikini tops don't stay put. The influences that dictated women’s surf apparel design weren’t fully in the hands of women, which meant women’s needs weren’t fully addressed and choices weren’t adequately provided to them.
Starting in the 2000s, indie, female-founded women surf brands began making a mark in the industry. Finally creating surfwear which could function in the sport of surfing. While also being stylish.
Right now, there are more women surf brands popping up every day. Here are just a handful of women's surf brands founded by females that are putting out great surfwear.
Women surf brands we love
September The Line
A former designer for Patagonia, J. Crew, and Deus Ex Machina, Erika Seiko Togashi was no beginner when she founded September The Line. If you look closely, you can see her wonderful influences of all her experiences with those brands in her own label. Which is a combination of function, originality, and edge.
Togashi honed in on her vision after moving from New York to Bali. Earning more hours in the water than she ever had and realizing the lacking of her surfwear options.
SEPTEMBER the Line, when design and function meet at sea.
Founded on modernist design principles that honor simplicity, form, and function over unnecessary details, we focus on fit, color, and sustainable materials. With streamlined silhouettes, we never sacrifice performance and always deliver timeless classics. Mixing luxury sustainable Italian fabric with well-thought-out technical details and flattering lines, SEPTEMBER the Line is a collection of refined and elevated swimwear, that will quickly become staples in your wardrobe.
Hanalei Reponty is the founder of Abysse. Abysse was born out of a desire and dream to create a brand whose main purpose was to align women with ideals of function and sustainable fashion. After becoming a surfer, a model, and traveling the four corners of the world throughout my teenage years, I yearned to create something of substance.
Being a conscious manufacturer means to take back power and support what we stand for, in the ever-growing fast fashion industry.
“At Abysse, we make a conscious choice to make a difference. Being a conscious manufacturer means taking back power and support what we stand for. We define ourselves as a sustainable brand by embodying these aspects: by being a small family business, women-owned, locally produced, using recycled materials from the beginning to the end of our value chain (from packaging to production) and by supporting charities that we believe in. By achieving the above, we aim to create an impact and set our own long-term trend.”
Reponty was born and raised on the main island of Tahiti. “Growing up on an island shapes you. Nature is omnipresent and revered. Children spend hours in the sun, in the saltwater, and climbing trees. Life is simple. Yet, this simple life is now a luxury in an overstimulated world. In the islands, a connection is key. Connection with people, with nature with elements.
Cami and Jax
Cami and Jax is a line of luxury swimwear conceived on the same Kauai beaches its founders grew up on. They have rapidly earned a loyal following among the west coast surf-set and jet-set alike with designs that marry bold design with performance, whilst sculpting a striking silhouette.
These swimsuits are to be worn, to be moved in, to be surfed in; these are swimsuits to feel transformed by and emboldened in. Founded with the intention of empowering women through design and will continue to celebrate strength and power as prerequisites to beauty. Founded by surfers, they are focused on creating swimwear to move you. Suit your body. Suit yourself.
Designer Jackie Brady and her sister, former pro-surfer Camille Brady, are lifelong water-babies who had sand on their toes and salt in their hair before they could walk. Deeply connected to the ocean, to this day the sisters can be found wearing their bikinis more often than not.
Dolphin Love is an underground and independent swimwear brand. What is unique about Dolphin Love is that they only make small and limited series (30 pieces maximum per series). And they are making new series every month of the year. Their cuts are a mix of old-school traditional swimwear from the '20s with a touch of post-modern Californian bikinis from the '80s. We are proud to work with the best materials, mostly imported from Italy. And the best sewing quality you can find in Bali. All our swimwear is proudly handmade in Bali, Indonesia. In a tiny workshop run by two seamstresses.
California-born and bred, Kassia Meador began surfing at age 14. By 17-years-old, Kassia was a sponsored pro-longboarder, traveling the world. Known for her graceful surf style, Kassia was crowned the “queen of noseriding” by the New York Times and in 2011 ranked 2nd on the WSL women's longboard tour.
Throughout her career as a competitive sponsored athlete, Kassia was actively involved in designing products under the umbrella of her sponsors. In 2013, Kassia left sponsored surfing to build a brand–that focused on quality instead of quantity, working towards more conscious solutions rather than contributing to the larger global issues. In 2015 she launched KASSIA+SURF, a brand for women by women with a design rooted in authenticity gained through 23 years of experience.
Since launching, KASSIA+SURF has pushed the limits of women's surf culture, lifestyle, and design. With a mission to create the most functional wetsuits, accessories, and lifestyle gear in the highest vibe lowest impact way. KASSIA+SURF is about supporting you in exploring this beautiful external world and expanding your magnificent unique internal world. Through the water and riding waves, we invite you to empower yourself and your community to expand your mind, body, and soul through healthy active lifestyle choices and experiences. Be that change and lead the charge!
Seea supplies a full range of surfwear options, from bikinis to rashguards to womens wetsuits, and almost any woman could find a fit and pattern to complement her taste. All pieces are made within 70 miles of their San Clemente headquarters, and most of the line is made from recycled, upcycled or natural materials.
Seea is a progressive women’s surf brand.
Connecting women to themselves, their community, and the planet. Their mission is to inspire women to be their best selves. We provide products and stories that instill confidence, growth, and love of imperfection for every phase of a woman’s journey to self-discovery. Surfing is our platform.
NineFootStudio creates functional and beautiful surf suits. The line was founded by Spanish surfer and designer Lucia Roman. Roman spent her life connected to the ocean. Eventually, she moved to Bali where she fell in love with surfing.
NineFootStudio is a women's sustainable surfing activewear company that produces surf athleticism in range and style in one. They move forward with the intention of balancing quality activewear and delivering recycled and eco-friendly garments in helping our environment in every aspect.
Showing the world with the right activewear will help empower women to feel, think, and move confidently. Their minimalistic but functional designs are tediously crafted to support women.