The first bikini I made was in a 'managed isolation quarantine' hotel when I had just arrived back to Aotearoa from Hawai'i. Just as my small brand felt like it was getting some traction, my visa expired and covid shut down immigration offices globally for the foreseeable future. On my way back home, I spent two weeks in a managed isolation hotel with nothing but my sewing machines and scraps of fabric. This was November 2019 and as we were heading into our summer, I had swimwear on my mind. I made the spontaneous decision to use some leftover lycra to make a bikini. I watched countless YouTube tutorials and eventually cut myself a pattern out of the isolation welcome booklet they'd handed us at check in.
AJK's first bikini pattern :,)
All the bikini samples I made in that hotel were pretty terribly constructed (I didn't have any elastic at this point and I was still figuring out the process). However, I started to grow an idea of the exact shape and style I wanted to create with my swim. I've always been into very classic, clean silhouettes for bikinis. At the time, high cut was trending, but it was back when the trend was still kicking off, so girls were just hiking their bikinis up, meaning lots of bunching and wedgies. I wanted something that emphasised the shape and drew inspiration from classic eighties swim styles but giving them a modern feel.
First bikini I ever made
My first official collection used Liberty London deadstock fabrics and rubber elastic, which I loved for quality and feel. During this time, I was also scouring the internet for alternatives and sustainable fabric inspiration. I discovered a supplier with a small collection of incredible vintage swimwear fabric mostly from the seventies, as well as some from the eighties and nineties. Shipping to NZ was too expensive for me at the time, so I had them shipped to a friend's house in Hawai'i in the hopes that one day my visa would be approved and I would be able to continue my brand from where it started. This was in January 2021. I didn't make it back to Hawai'i until February 2022.
AJK's first bikini drop, made from Liberty London fabrics. Fits were more 'modest' and higher coverage than they are now, with subtle changes made over time based on customer feedback and trends