With the nice weather now prevalent all around the United States, and summer officially just a few days away, beach season is officially here. Be it an actual beach, a lake, a river, a pool, or hot tub, swimming is now a plausible way to cool down. Often, swimwear has been seen to hold the sole function of wearing to the beach or pool to catch some sun. Once the fun is done, people quickly rush to change out of the impractical and regularly ugly attire.
Onia, a swimwear company started by Carl Cunow and Nathan Romano, aims to deconstruct the label against beach wardrobe. Much like yoga pants went from being a workout-only piece of clothing to a staple of women’s fashion, Onia hopes that beachwear can soon be used for much more than tanning and swimming.
Started in 2013, Romano and Cunow set out to create swimwear that served more than one purpose. Originally focused on men’s swim trunks, the duo dreamed of creating shorts that could obviously not only be used at the beach but also as casual, everyday shorts and athletic shorts. In essence, they wanted to create shorts for men that could be used in just about every situation without compromising on style. In a previous interview with Fortune, Romano stated that “this is how we started Onia and, since our launch, we have fully developed into a men’s and women’s swim and ready-to-wear brand, and all of our products have been launched based on the same core philosophy that we started with — fit, fabric and function.”
Since the company’s inception, they have expanded their market from solely men’s swimwear. They delved into the women’s swimwear market, which has obvious limitations in comparison to the men’s. Onia also began producing shirts, shoes, dresses, and pants with the same core values in mind.
While they do not expect their customers to go out and swim in shoes, pants, and dresses, they hope that their product yields a practical, stylish and comfortable outcome. Many other swimwear and surf companies are starting to follow this trend too.
Brands like RVCA and Billabong have been staples of the swimwear and surf industry for years. While they have made shorts, flip-flops, etc… before Onia became a company, these items tended to have a distinct style that did not mesh well outside of beach towns. Now, however, brands like these are aiming to implement a more practical product into their collection in order to expand their potential influence.
As Onia continues to grow at an exponential rate—100% growth online in the first quarter of 2018—so might their practices. In providing customers with a unique, multi-purpose wardrobe, the owners of Onia have in a sense created their own market and audience. They are now looking to expand their influence both online and in-stores based on their “long game” method of business. Co-founder Carl Cunow states “we care about trends, but we care a lot more about timeless design. I think there is a place for fast fashion, but that is not our customer”.
Unlike many other companies that seem to simply be chasing the latest trends and hits, Onia wants to make quality clothes that will last throughout whatever the freshest style may be. It is refreshing to see a company that originally marketed itself for all-purpose swimwear evolve into something much more. In an ever-changing market where companies rise and fall rapidly and fashion changes overnight, Onia plans it’s success on timeless, practical pieces of clothing. Surely other companies will begin to follow the same “underground” model that Onia has created if their success continues.
Original ideas focused on quality over quantity appear to be paying large dividends for Onia. I know I myself would appreciate a classic pair of swim trunks that can double as athletic shorts or daily wear.