Ever heard of World Environment Day(June 5)? Believe it or not, it’s been a noteworthy calendar event since 1974, serving as a vital means for raising awareness and taking global action on urgent issues. That includes everything from oceanic pollution to the more obvious, global warming, to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime.
Millions of people have taken part over the years in various ways, helping to drive change in the habits of the majority, as well as in national and international environmental policy. With this year’s focus on #BeatPlasticPollution, it makes a lot of sense to discuss the waves (pun intended) that many companies are making in terms of mitigating plastic waste in our waters.
You’ve likely heard of brands using recycled plastic bottles to make anything from swimwear to activewear, even rugs and homegoods. The former is arguably the most natural fit and common use of recycled polyester. And one swimwear company making use of this innovative fabric through a fully sustainable supply chain is Fair Harbor.
Fair Harbor is a sibling run company creating swimwear out of recycled plastic in an effort to keep the oceans clean. Growing up spending summers on Fire Island, Jake and Caroline Danehy would pass their afternoons selling lemonade on the sidewalk, surfing and swimming in the water, fishing off the pier, and riding bikes around the carless streets. Fast forward a few years, Jake and Caroline are now heading a successful business and helping to beat plastic pollution in the ocean, one bottle at a time. Inspired by those summers spent on Fair Harbor, Fire Island, their brand produces high-quality, stylish swimwear for men and women from plastic bottles and other sustainable materials (like upcycled coconuts).
We chatted with the Danehys to learn more about the mission and vision for the Fair Harbor brand:
Why swimwear, and what does this range offer?
Swimwear was a natural fit for us. We grew up in the water–surfing, swimming, fishing. We wanted to create a product that was not only incredibly well-made, functional, durable, and stylish, but also spoke to a greater purpose.
Each Fair Harbor suit makes use of over 10 recycled plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in a landfill or the ocean–where we started seeing a lot of waste as we grew up.
We wanted to protect the waters and preserve sacred little beach towns like Fair Harbor, Fire Island. There’s something so intrinsically magical about it: the inclusivity, the simplicity, the energy. Our brand embodies those characteristics. The styles are laid back, yet fun and functional. The boardshorts are for ocean activity (read: surfing), the trunks for lounging, the women’s suits for movement or sun-bathing, depending. Every piece we create is purposeful, within the wider lens of Fair Harbor.
What’s the dynamic between you two; what’s it like working with your sibling?
Caroline and I are pretty unique in that we’ve never really had a disagreement… believe it or not. We’ve always been incredibly close. As the eldest to two younger sisters, I’m protective and supportive of them both. Caroline came on board as Creative Director because she fits that role really well. She really pushed forward, naturally, the women’s collection, which she designed and spearheaded. She has big plans for Fair Harbor that complement the bigger vision. Our skill sets are completely different and we just work well alongside one another.
What small changes can others do to help with reducing plastic waste?
Personally, try to avoid single use plastic. Much of it is really not necessary: plastic utensils, water bottles, coffee cups, etc. But also, while you’re walking to work or to the gym, or wherever you’re headed, be a little more mindful of your surroundings. Pick up any recyclable waste you see on the street and put it in its respective bin.
When you hear #BeatPlasticPollution what does that mean to you?
Of course, it means a lot to us, considering our business is in mitigating plastic waste. It’s also incredibly validating to have watched this movement grow and expand over the last 3 years. When we began, creating any sort of apparel out of plastic bottles was unheard of. While it’s become much more common now, which is natural, as is competition in the marketplace, it’s exciting to have been at the forefront and to have watched this evolution.
What’s next for Fair Harbor?
This Spring has been a huge for us. We’ve released new product nearly every week of May. We have all new styles of our original boardshorts and swim trunks for men, performance boardshorts made of recycled poly and upcycled coconuts, a performance athletic short made of recycled poly and coconuts, as well, and a collaboration capsule with a local East Coast photographer whose photos we digitally printed on our trunks. The biggest drop of all was definitely our debut women’s collection, though. It’s been really well-received, and we’re already so excited for a larger, second collection. It really rounded out the brand.
We opened up a pop-up shop in Brookfield Place in downtown Manhattan, which will be open through the summer. It’s great to have a physical touch-point, outside of our select retailers and our online presence. Otherwise, we’ll be continuing to do a bunch of activations and trunk shows in beach towns this summer, as that’s been pivotal to our brand’s growth strategy. Overall, we’re really excited for the immediate and longer-term future of Fair Harbor and feel so fortunate for all the support we’ve gotten thus far.
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Stephanie Sica is the founder of Orchard and Broome, a branding and public relations company that selectively represents ethical or sustainable brands. Based in downtown New York City, OB grows conscious companies globally. With a degree in business journalism and background in both luxury-lifestyle public relations and event production, Stephanie created OB with the mission to support brands that do good in their respective industries for the betterment of the people and planet they affect.