Becky Morton, peony swimwear

It’s all the little things that can add up to great change ...

In a wild world where fast fashion is rife, it’s brands like Gold Coast-born peony swimwear that stand out and give all of us (including Mother Nature) a soul-warming glimmer of hope. The fashion industry is fiercely competitive, and while many companies have commercial interests and a bottom line at front of mind, peony’s founder Becky Morton went the other way and invested heavily into researching and developing ways to make her products, her business, her customers and herself more sustainable. It would have been easier and less costly to keep her Burleigh Heads-based business as it was – it’s now an internationally renowned label – but Becky became driven by a lingering belief that small changes can actually make a big difference. We had a chat to Becky about where it all began and how peony is consciously changing the world – one bikini at a time.

We’ll start by throwing back to the beginning. Tell us, how did peony first come to life and what initially inspired you to start your own swimwear label?
I have always been passionate about creativity and design. When I was younger, I would sketch garments on notepaper during class and on napkins at restaurants. Swimwear design was particularly appealing to me because it seemed that was all we wore for nine months of the year. Although I had dreamed it, I never imagined that one day I would actually turn my passion it into a career. After school I studied a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Business. Following graduation from university, I went on to qualify and work as a lawyer for six months. Although I loved studying law, I found legal practice personally unsatisfying and creatively stifling. I felt a fire in my belly for something more and it didn’t take long for me to realise that it was time to pursue my dream of starting my own brand. Soon after that, I finished working at the law firm and started peony. The brand was named after my favourite flower which blooms at the beginning of summer.

You recently released peony’s first-ever collection of sustainable swimwear. Generally speaking, it’s a significant and expensive undertaking for a business to go sustainable. What prompted you to take the leap and make the shift?
Yes, this is absolutely true. It would have been much easier and much less costly for us to stay the path and not push for change … but I’ve never been afraid of hard work and I genuinely care about minimising my environmental impact in work and in life.

As consumers, why should we give a damn about choosing swimwear made from recycled and sustainable materials?
I believe we should all be working to make better, more environmentally conscious decisions in everything we do. Swimwear is no different. Our recycled and sustainable Italian fabrics are made by regenerating discarded materials such as fishing nets recovered from the bottom of the ocean. This process results in cleaner oceans and swimwear that’s not only beautiful, but sustainable. Not only is peony swimwear gentle on the environment but our new sustainable fabrics are stronger, more durable, with increased shape retention and longevity, bringing you superior quality as well as the distinct design aesthetic peony is adored for. What’s not to love?

What advice can you give people looking to make their wardrobe more sustainable and environmentally conscious this season?
The shift doesn’t have to happen all at once. Take small, considered steps towards reducing your impact on the environment. Do your research and support small, independent and environmentally conscious brands where you can. Consider purchasing less quantity and better quality to ensure your purchases stand the test of time and don’t need replacement. It’s all the little things that can add up to great change. For example, all peony styles are sold separately and designed to mix and match. I love this philosophy that peony is built on, not only because of the freedom it allows, but because I believe it is important each range talks back to the previous ranges so we can encourage our girls to update last season’s go-to treasures with new season updates – this nod to slow fashion is important to us.

Where do you see the swimwear industry as a whole heading in terms of ethical and sustainable practices? Do you feel like consumers are grasping ‘quality over quantity’ or is there still more work to be done?
The fashion industry is the second biggest contributor to global pollution. While I believe we are heading in the right direction, clearly we have a long way to go. In saying this, I think it is important to focus on the positive change, encourage it in others and, as consumers, positively reinforce the brands that lead the way. Ultimately, this shift is being fuelled by consumers and the incredible access to information that we all now have, so as a consumer, I would recommend using your voice, and your wallet, to drive change.

What words of wisdom do you live by?
I fell in love with Desiderata by Max Ehrmann the first time I read it. There are so many beautiful words within it which become more or less relevant as life unfolds.

What’s your idea of the perfect weekend?
Somewhere by the beach, a good book, close friends, wine and music.

Perk-up …  Sunset drink at Nineteen at the Star
Relax …  Comma Spa in Byron
Dine …   Balboa Italian in Palm Beach
Be inspired …  Somewhere new


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