An avid ocean lover and diving fanatic from a young age, I have always cared about the world beneath the sea. Vibrant coral reefs, long days out on the open ocean, playful ocean puppies (seals!), and creatures large and small captured my earliest memories, with my sister walking by my side along endless seashores in the United Kingdom. Among these memories of the magic and mysticism of the ocean emerge flashes of a darker story: single-use plastics lining the beaches; turtles and other creatures trapped in plastic nets; and a steadily increasing presence of plastics in the sea to that point that it became rare not to see a piece of plastic on a dive.
These early experiences in life inspired my sister, Angela, and me, Michelle, to start SeaMorgens, a sustainable swimwear line that takes the global problem of single-use plastics and turns it into a fashionable solution. My own personal journey into the world of fashion and sustainability began with the ocean. I spent over 10 years in Australasia and Southeast Asia working in the scuba diving industry, witnessing firsthand the effects that single-use plastics and climate change have on the underwater world. Angela, on the other hand, has always been committed to the world of land-based conservation. A lover of animals of all kinds from a young age, she stopped eating meat many years ago and is devoted to a mostly plastic-free lifestyle—no small task with two small children at home!
While Angela and I have always shown and interest in two different areas of conservation, we were both driven by a desire to find sustainable solutions to this global challenge together. While I obtained a degree in fashion BA (Hons) from Northumbia University, I quickly realized that the fashion industry as it is today was not for me. With a heavy dependence on cheap materials, poor labor standards and practices, and environmentally destructive practices, I knew that the fashion industry lacked the devotion to conservation Angela and I had maintained our whole lives.
While working in the scuba diving industry, I started to make several bikinis in my spare time.
I gave these bikinis to friends or used them myself, but never considered starting an actual brand to sell and market these products. After the encouragement of many happy friends/first customers, I eventually made the decision to do a small collection. As a scuba diver, free diver and (terrible!) surfer, I wanted to create a swimwear range for fellow sea lovers that is fun, comfortable, supportive and environmentally friendly.
SeaMorgens is unlike almost all swimwear companies out there, many of which actually produce fabric with new plastics and in the process produce lots of marine micro plastics. At SeaMorgens we only uses fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles, regenerated ocean fishing nets, and other household waste. We also wanted to avoid any type of plastic fastenings and packaging that cannot be recycled, so all swimsuits avoid the use of these items. Given the different challenges that countries and communities all over the world face in decreasing dependence on plastic pollution, we don’t believe the answer to our global crisis is to stop using plastics completely. We just believe that with swimwear it can be avoided, and at SeaMorgens, we can make a truly positive impact.
We also believe in ethically made slow fashion. I personally make all the samples myself at home in a very modest set up.
I have a great relationship with our SeaMorgens manufacturer, based in Bali, where I play an active part in the creation process and collect all of the waste fabric to ensure I am in control of what happens to our waste. We want to produce a finished product that we can say had as little negative impact on the environment, and the people who made the garment, as it possibly can. This is why we started projects to make bralettes, face masks, and scrunchies from our waste fabric cut offs. We think of creative ideas often to ensure these precious resources never go unused. We have just one collection and it has nothing to do with current fashion trends, but rather timeless ocean inspired pieces.
A percentage of our profits also help directly fund marine conservation programs happening around the world. We support the work of Marine Megafauna Foundation with the profit from our Manta Ray collection. With the profit from our Ocean collection, we support Healthy Seas, who are responsible for recovering the ghost fishing nets that go into our swimwear. We also have new and exciting collaborations coming up in the near future with other organisations like Shark Guardian.
SeaMorgens future plans include expanding our range with some new exciting ideas, as well as continuing to concentrate our efforts to make perfect swimwear pieces for the active ocean lover. We also wish to continue finding new and innovative ways to use our waste and what cannot be saved will return to the starting process to form a closed loop system. We want to aim for total zero waste.
Today, SeaMorgens still is run by the same two sisters who fell in love with the UK seaside and found our passion for saving the planet. I hand design the bikinis myself and work through the production process from start to finish, while Angela manages operations, marketing, and customer service. You can ensure that each bikini you buy is made with love and nothing but the most sustainable and ethically-sourced materials from beginning to end. We love, wear, and use our product ourselves every chance we can, hoping that SeaMorgens will be one among many working to make the fashion industry—and the world—a more sustainable, eco-conscious place.
By Michelle Morgan