Canadian-made and Toronto-based VUK sustainable swim line have the people’s good conscious vote to buy. Founder Sandra Vukovic is cleaning up our oceans and stitching the used nylon fibers in her new swimwear collection.
As sustainable swimwear is something of a rarity, VUK Swimwear is off to a great start creating great ethics and values. People are beginning to support their local businesses now before shopping elsewhere. With the balance of economics shifting throughout the pandemic, it’s been challenging to keep these smaller businesses going. Sandra is determined to hit this curveball out of the park while creating revolutionary wear and rewriting how swimwear is designed and manufactured. She shares her unique creative story with us on how she decided to be the sustainable swimwear pioneer.
When did you have the epiphany to start a sustainable swim line, and why? Did your educational background influence this decision?
VUK started as a conversation between my sister and me about our frustration with the lack of sustainable swimwear options in Toronto. Like many, I always looked for the “right” time to start something of my own. I graduated in 2015 with a degree in Fashion Design from Ryerson University and landed my first job.
My position mainly consisted of pattern drafting, grading, and sewing figure skating costumes. Through this experience, I developed a good understanding of stretch fabrics which has given me the confidence to start my swimwear line. Over the years, I have grown passionate about sustainability as a whole. After realizing that the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world, I knew that sustainability would be at the core of my business model when I finally decided to leap.
What are your chosen fabrics and colors for your sustainable swim line, and why?
Making sustainable swimwear must start with the fabric itself. All our material is chosen to be durable and sustainable. We use fabric composed of 78% ECONYL® regenerated nylon made by recovering nylon waste – such as fishing nets from the oceans and aquaculture, fabric scraps from mills and carpets destined for landfill – and turning it into virgin quality nylon yarn for the fashion and interior industries.
ECONYL® regenerated nylon has the potential to be recycled infinitely without ever losing its quality. In the future, we aim to source fabric that is 100% ECONYL® regenerated nylon. Aside from swimwear, all materials chosen at VUK will be centered around sustainability.
We chose a neutral color palette for VUK’s first collection because who doesn’t love neutrals! We decided on three colors that offer a light, medium, and dark tone for our launch collection. We wanted to have fun with our colors and named them after our favorite drinks and snacks: Milk, Tea, Cafe, and Tapioca!
How do you create the designs, and where do you make the swimwear?
Everything from start to finish is done in my Toronto home studio. My design process involved doing trend research, coming up with a design concept, and finding my distinct point of difference.
I wanted to design something that felt authentic to who I am. As someone who has grown up in a big city, there are many summer days spent at the pool or beach, followed by going for dinner and then a night out dancing. With this in mind, our swimwear is designed to look great with a skirt and heels or a great pair of jeans. My friends and family were my sounding board to help me work through and refine my ideas. My home studio is set up for production and gives me the ability to work on orders as they come. This supports VUK’s sustainability mission by only making what is required, minimizing labour, and reducing material waste.
How has the pandemic impacted your business dynamics? How are you rising above it?
Unlike existing businesses, VUK came to fruition during the pandemic. Being without a job and having much time to myself seemed like an ideal time to finally start my business. Getting started was a bit slow as many suppliers were out of stock and people were out of the office. This impacted and delayed communication, and the time it took to source suppliers that fit our needs.
Initially, the plan was to launch our swimwear collection in the winter of 2020 but seeing how the pandemic was still in full swing; we had to adjust our timeline. Since nobody was travelling to warm destinations, we decided to push our launch to Spring 2021.
In the meantime, we released a VUK “starter pack” that included masks, scrunchies, and totes made from our swimwear fabric. Once getting over the initial hump, we learned how the industry changed and navigated the sudden growth in e-commerce and the shift in consumer demand.
What are you planning special for 2021?
This summer, we are planning on releasing a fourth colour to our 2021 swimwear collection! We are excited to offer a new option to our existing collection and continue to build our product line. Aside from the new colour release, we plan on expanding our accessories line as well. We plan on creating more accessories such as matching bandanas that will complete your swimming look. We are also very excited about launching matching cover-ups for the beach and pool. We aim to create a complete beach look because who doesn’t love a matching set?
Have you picked up any new hobbies since the pandemic?
Skincare, If you can call that a hobby! I’ve finally had the time to invest in myself and my skin, and I’m sure, like many of us, I’ve splurged on one too many unique products. Being at home and not having as many reasons to wear makeup, I’ve been able to let my skin breathe and reset. It has felt nice to incorporate a little more me-time into my daily routine and pamper my skin!
It’s another level of feeling when you can trust a brand’s goals and know they are there to meet your needs.
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Author: Kayla Stephens, Content Writer, Toronto, Canada. If you have any stories or comments, kindly email: – [email protected]