The story of U&I Label began in 2014 out of the back of a rambling surf shack in Torquay, Victoria. This is where the girls (yours truly), Australian Fashion Designer Jodie Hayes and Swedish Designer and Photographer Emma Bäcklund, used their sunny 3rd bedroom as an operating creative studio space. Neither of the girls had endeavoured a venture like this so they had nothing to loose at the time and took on each obstacle as a new learning.
Joining the surf industry seemed like the obvious choice and transition for the pair, both being drawn to this coastal town for the ocean, yet not intimidated by the size of their competition a couple clicks up the road. Jodie and Emma had help to pay the rent in their shack studio by having their garage converted into a backyard-shaping bay where their friends would come and shape boards any day of the week. All that they asked is that the gate be kept shut so that their pet goats didn’t escape… one time chasing the pair down the Great Ocean Road was enough.
It was at this address that the first swimwear range, appropriately named ‘The Wild Card Collection” was designed and released whiles Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach was in full swing some five years ago.
Dreaming of bigger things and five seasons later they now share a professional space in the heart of Torquay Surf City. A shared warehouse with fully operating surfboard factory (Southcoast Surfboards) as well as the best egg & breakky roll/coffee combo in town (Monkeys Uncle Café).
The U&I Studio is now a public space where customers can come for coffee and talk everything surf while looking over the handmade shapes and spy on the U&I girls in action. Or you can come along any of the events that U&I host including girls only surf groups lead by Emma herself or take a night class by Jodie and learn how to sew while getting a bit boozy at her adult creative workshops.
The ladies have a mission to re-establish what living on the coast for women is really about…”We surf, run, play. You only have to take a quick look at there profile to realise they are active women who don’t seem to stand still for long. U&I Label work to provide women with the grown up answer to swim and surfwear that is missing in the market, they design swimwear for active women who respect and seek design, not trend seeking women.
In collaboration with strong and forward thinking women U&I aim to (finally) create women’s surf culture. These ambassadors are ladies that represent the lifestyle that women on the coast are living. They are strong women, busy creating and living their dreams behind the camera rather in front of it. Visit the U&I website to get to know them better.
One way of doing this is by proudly contributing to the ‘slow fashion’ movement. Jodie and Emma use the studio to create each range from the ground up. Their swimwear is designed using the “old school” method of design, whereby Jodie conceptualises her designs with nothing but her favourite HB and numerous bottles of red wine, countless numbers of samples are threaded through her machine until they agree on a fine tuned range. Emma breaks in with the evolution of functionalities before dreaming up the story and branding behind the latest range. This takes her and her camera into the ocean with the local ladies the inspire them. They live their brand.
The new range, ‘After the Rain’, tips its hat to the romantic stillness after the Storm. Staying true to U&I´s minimalist style and unique textiles, this range focuses on the senses, going beyond clever contouring and timeless pallets.
From 2018 moving forward the label has made the commitment to 100% regenerated nylon fiber from pre and post consumer waste such as fishnet and other end of life nylon materials. Also introducing neoprene’s sexy cousin Duck Dive exclusive to the brand. All styles have proudly been manufactured in Australia since day one.
Even though the girls have come so far since their rambling shack they haven’t stoped moving and growing the brands future. Working to create an lifestyle company that involved the community in more ways than swim and retail they will continue hosting label street parties and take more girls out on their “Chicks only Surf events”.
What´s the big next for the label? They have been brewing their first apparel collection tailored to women that also love the costal lifestyle. The U&I ladies will be sewing the pieces out of their own Torquay studio and only offer a limited run of each colour and style.
Give the girls a follow so that you don´t miss out on the next range releases, parties and other events!