“Don’t change yourself .. Change the GAME!! Ladies anything is possible!!!” Those words are from the first hijabi model Halima Aden who once again made history by being the first woman to wear a burkini in the renowned magazine Sports Illustrated Swimsuit – usually known to feature topless women in bikinis. This MAJOR stereotypes-shattering move is also a big step toward inclusivity, diversity and open-mindedness in the fashion industry. By being featured in this magazine, Halima shows that a woman can be empowered and free to wear a modest swimwear and she flies in the face of people depicting it as oppressive. Because if a woman can freely rock her bikini, she should also be able to show off her modest swimwear if she decides to wear one right?
So, ladies have you already bought your modest swimwear? If not, Lanuuk will be your ultimate go-to choice. Launched a few months ago, it is already the favourite swimwear brand of many modest fashion influencers. Moreover, this brand is all about inclusivity and truly speaks to all women. They celebrate women with different body types sharing a unique standard of beauty we should all have: be proud of who you are. Wait, that’s not all! The brand has a lot more to offer. Read the following interview with the founders of Lanuuk to learn more.
Please, could introduce yourself and your brand?
We are Leya and Ayesha, co-founders of Lanuuk, also sisters-in-law! We setup Lanuuk in mid-2018 when we were both on separate journeys to find full coverage swimwear, for different reasons. For Ayesha, who wears the hijab, it was the struggle to find stylish and high-quality modest swimwear that led to the idea of creating her own. Whilst for Leya, it was still getting comfortable with her own body after having three children that led her to the same point. We created Lanuuk to address our individual pain points. The more women we spoke to, the more we realized that our pain points were not specific to us, but shared with many others from different walks of life. In fact, our brand is anchored on this very ‘why’ we are doing this. We want our brand to represent the unrivalled strength we gain from supporting each other, the freedom to make our own choices of self-expression in fashion, the confidence that comes from self-belief and, quite plainly, from being more comfortable in what we’re wearing.
Inspiration for the name has its Nordic roots (with Leya being half-Danish) and simply includes letters from our names. Like our name, we have drawn inspiration from each other, our values and our different but complementary backgrounds and outlooks.
The story behind our brand identity design is the fusion of Lanuuk’s philosophies and how it translates to our swimwear. It was born out of the simple idea of a pearl, an oyster shell and the sun, which actually bear deeper meanings. For us, the pearl represents beauty in all its forms, the oyster shell represents modesty, and the sun alludes to hope, light, and the sun-safe nature of our suits.
Where do you take your inspiration to create your swimwear?
Leya is definitely the designer out of the two of us! We took our inspiration from the diversity and strength of women. We want our swimsuits to be a source of empowerment to women of all ages and sizes, therefore, we spend a lot of time trying to get the fit right for different body types. Whilst it’s difficult to be everything for everyone, we sure try to create designs that are flattering to our bodies in the real world. Our inspiration for the product names come from great women who have inspired us; Diana Nyad, Serena Williams and Maya Angelou (there are many more to come!).
What makes your brand unique?
Our want to create a luxury experience for women. We want women to feel confident and beautiful wearing our swimwear so we have focussed on classic designs, colours and silhouettes.
Could you tell us more about the fabrics you work with?
Our swimwear is made up of a nylon and spandex mix that gives us a versatile and durable fabric. We’ve chosen this fabric for its strength, durability, resistance to mildew, elasticity, low moisture absorption and increased resistance to abrasion as compared to natural fibres. Additionally, the fabric we use offers UPF50+ sun protection, is anti-crease and quick-dry whilst maintaining a lightweight feel. The UPF50+ feature of the fabric means that it only allows 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to pass through it, which will reduce your skin’s UV radiation exposure by 50 times (98% UV block) in areas where the skin is protected by the swimsuit.
We love the inclusive approach of Lanuuk. How much is it important for you to represent different body type?
Very important! Lanuuk was first and foremost created to address our needs. Each of us were on very different journeys that happened to cross the same paths. We also wanted women in all their forms to be celebrated. There is still so much more to do in bringing diversity to the fashion industry. We want to be a part of that evolution and try to represent a large range of sizes as part of our standard line-up in popular colours. But because it’s difficult to capture every body type and unique need, we offer custom-orders too.
Who are your clients and why do they choose to buy modest swimwear?
We’re a very new brand but our clients so far have been from a diverse range of ages and backgrounds. They are women who may be looking for a more modest swimwear solution for cultural or religious reasons, women who are conscious of the dangers of sun exposure, or women who are body conscious and are not comfortable with baring their curves or a lot of skin. We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from our clients about how confident our suits make them feel about their bodies. It’s exactly what we set out to do, and we couldn’t be happier with the reception.
What is the swimwear you created that you like the most and why?
We do love our Serena swimsuit; the way it fits and the way that the fabric falls – it looks so chic and feels really comfortable. It can even be worn as a standalone one-piece swim dress. The swim leggings are also now a wardrobe staple; we use them at the gym or for just relaxing at home!
3 adjectives that best describe your brand?
Luxurious. Empowering. Inclusive.
What does modest fashion mean to you and how do you think it can empower women?
We’re not here to tell women that they should cover up or that a swimsuit should cover your body; in fact, quite the opposite. A woman should be free to dress as she wishes. If that means covering up, it shouldn’t be for anyone to say that’s not acceptable. Modest fashion is all about representation and we hope that the more women wearing modest swimwear in its many styles will make it more accepted and celebrated.
What is your favourite colour and what does it inspire you?
We love neutral colours and our colour palette has so far included mostly neutral colours with a couple of rich accents as a running theme.
Your favourite fashion accessory?
A great hat! Whether you cover your hair or not, a hat is the perfect accessory.
The place of the world that inspires you the most and why?
We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from the Philippines. It is where our swimwear is made and we love the diverse scenery and rich culture.
Do you read/listen to podcasts? If so, what are your favourite books/podcasts?
‘On purpose’ podcasts by Jay Shetty—they’re so moving and helps one to look at the ‘bigger picture’. Especially as a new business, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or de-motivated at times and Jay’s wisdom really encourages the right mindset. Then there’s ‘Becoming’, by Michelle Obama; her life and her journey are truly inspirational.
Your philosophy in life and/or your favourite quote?
Be kind. We love this quote by Maya Angelou:“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
What was/were the biggest challenge(s) you have encountered while building your brand and how did you face it/them?
We both come from corporate backgrounds and were used to the security of working for big companies. Whilst it’s difficult to go out and do something on your own, the skills we’ve gained in our careers so far have served us well on this journey. We’re both new to retail and e-commerce and it’s a steep learning curve. There is so much to learn and with the dominance of social media, it can be overwhelming at times; so, we’re doing our best to navigate and embrace the challenges.
What advice would you give to women willing to start their own business?
We are by no means a success story yet, are still learning every day and take inspiration from all the amazing and supportive people in our lives. We really believe that to be successful, you should have a strong vision and stick to it. Be uncompromising on what you value. This is what will make you and your product unique, and will keep you motivated and focused.