Sustainable swimwear brand Naeco not only makes some of the most stylish men’s swim shorts, it also helps the environment, with each pair of shorts being crafted from 100% recycled plastic, as founder Zak Johnson reveals
Where did the idea for Naeco come from?
A few years ago I lived in Bournemouth and as an avid kite surfer and scuba diver, I spent a massive amount of my time in the ocean. Over the years I saw more and more plastic in the ocean, spoiling the ecosystem. This was a huge problem that I knew I had to try and fix. I researched so many options for recycling plastic but settled on an industry I knew well, which was fashion.
Naeco swim shorts are made from 100% recycled plastic and each pair saves approximately 15 plastic bottles from harming our planet
Why plastic bottles?
With nearly one million bottles being purchased around the world every minute and eight million tons of plastic ending up in the oceans every year, the environmental impacts of plastic are just devastating. Here at Naeco, we’ve managed to do something about it. We take used plastic bottles and turn them into colourful tailored swim shorts. Naeco swim shorts are made from 100% recycled plastic and each pair saves approximately 15 plastic bottles from harming our planet.
How are the bottles sourced?
We currently work with a couple of third-party companies who collect, sort and clean the plastics for us, and we are working on something incredible for 2020. It is still very much under wraps, but we are working to collect, sort, clean and process bottles from end to end for 2020.
How can we all be more sustainable in our day-to-day lives?
I think for me it is small actions and choices ‒ you wouldn’t expect to run a marathon if you had never run one before; you’d start off small and do a mile and increase this as you felt comfortable. I think sustainability is like that too; we need to take small steps that are comfortable for the specific person. For me, I chose to remove plastic water bottles by buying a reusable metal one and I removed coffee cups and lids by buying a reusable cup. It was super-easy to do and I felt great once I started.
What is the most important thing a man should consider when buying swimwear?
I choose to build quality and comfort first. We made Naeco shorts using traditional tailoring methods to ensure a superior build and finish. We also made them from our unique fabric that is so soft that you won’t find it in any other swimwear. The inner lining is also extremely soft and comfortable and the seams are all built for comfort.
What is the bestselling shorts colour and why do you think it’s so popular?
Currently, our bestselling colour is Reef Red. It’s a rich red colour that everyone loves to wear ‒ maybe we all secretly have a desire to feel we are in Baywatch. I think when we go away we want to break away from the norm and express ourselves, and Reef Red seems to do this for customers. Because of this we have a new colour coming to the collection in May, which is the Pantone Color of the Year, Living Coral. It felt right for us to use this as the name was so close to our ethos, and being the colour of the year made it the perfect fit.
A percentage of your profits goes to charity ‒ what kind of works is Naeco supporting?
We give away 5% of our profits to marine charities and are working on a new platform in our shopping experience to allow customers to choose which cause they would like their contribution to go towards. We also have beach cleans where we get the local communities and our customers involved. These make fantastic days out with a great crowd of people.
What is your favourite travel destination?
My favourite travel destination has to be the Soneva resorts in the Maldives. Soneva is a partner of ours, and a stockist, but even if the Soneva group were not, its resorts would be the destinations of dreams. Soneva offers sustainable luxury resorts and is changing the travel industry. Stunning location, crystal clear water, ocean villas and sustainability all under one roof ‒ pure bliss. I am genuinely proud to know Soneva and be part of the journey.
What are your three travel essentials?
If I had nothing else with me and had to only pick three things to go away with they would be ... obviously a pair of Naeco Originals in red, my phone (I can work, relax, read and take photos), and my Chilly’s water bottle. With these three things, I can work, rest and play.
What is next for the brand?
Our next step is to introduce Naeco’s sportier-style shorts which will be a more entry-level product with fewer features so that we can make them at a much lower price point to help the brand appeal to more people. Then we are adding more colours into the range; this year we introduce Living Coral and for SS20 we have a few more colours up our sleeves. Lastly, we have decided to design our first pattern and this is available in May 2019 ready for summer. I can’t reveal too much yet but these look amazing ‒ they focus on our core beliefs and are dedicated to the most endangered marine animals in the world.
Naeco swim shorts start from £185
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