Introducing Davy J: Interview w/ Brand Founder on Creating Swimwear from Ghost Fishing Nets, Plastic & Textile Discards

Davy J is a swimwear brand for open water life, “Designed to survive a dive, pull off a cliff jump or handle a waterfall, it is a new kind of beachwear – one that you can actually swim in!” says founder, Helen Newcombe.

“Only a year old, the brand has flourished within a climate of increasing attention brought to the levels of waste in our oceans, concerns raised over fast fashion and our throwaway culture, as well as a rise in female empowerment voices and the celebration of strong feminine role models and their achievements.

“Davy J create classic, clean, stylish suits that are built to last. Every suit is manufactured here in the UK and ‘The Waste Collection’ is made using ECONYL® yarn which is a 100% regenerated nylon made from waste including abandoned or spent fishing nets, pre-consumer plastic components and textile discards.”

“An innovative, new generation of retail brand, we pride ourselves on being a Circular brand and really consider the value and use of the resources that go into our suits. We encourage you to send your suits back to us at the end of their life for regeneration or reuse of materials.

“We are responsible for what we create.”

Davy J has been awarded the Positive Luxury Butterfly Mark for sustainable luxury brands who demonstrate a commitment to sustainable and ethical practices. “The fabric is sourced from Italy, the clasps and rubber are sourced from France and we manufacture all our pieces with a small manufacturing unit in Wales.

“We’re really proud to manufacture all of our pieces in Britain and it has the huge benefit of allowing us to visit the factory regularly, work closely with them on wastage and packaging as well as having a really transparent oversight and communication throughout the manufacturing process.”

“The ECONYL® Regeneration system is a chemical and mechanical process that allows you to create regenerated yarn from waste keeping the same purity and strength characteristics of Nylon coming from virgin material. Not only does it provide a smart way to find a use and value for waste material that would otherwise remain wasted and potentially damaging to the environment, but it also saves precious raw material that is normally used up in the production of virgin nylon. For every 100 Davy J suits sold, around 9kg of waste has been regenerated.”

“As a brand we try to be seasonless, producing beautiful classic pieces that, like your classic Little Black Dress, will be your go-to swimsuit for years to come. The shape and composition is all about flattering the female figure. Using material with a high elastane content, double lining our pieces for strength and using clean, crisp lines, these suits are really flattering on a range of body shapes and sizes. All pieces feature the iconic Davy J cross back straps and are designed to ensure you surface from the water in the same condition as you entered it #SurvivetheDive.

“Our last photoshoot was all about capturing ‘real’. We wanted to capture real women, looking beautiful, alive, and happy while out and about in the water. The editing and style is very raw and we don’t make any attempts to hide the natural lumps, bumps and lines that make us who we are. We’ve had so much positive feedback about these images and the hope is that it encourages women to feel fabulous, confident and comfortable out and about on the beach or in the ocean.

“Creatively, Matt Austin, our photographer, is one of my favourites to work with, he has an ability to capture that wonderful glint in someone’s eye or the laughter lines on their face that make his imagery so beautiful, raw and real and really bring to life the feel of our brand.”

“I love how wonderfully collaborative the sustainable fashion and circular economy space is at the moment. There’s a real appreciation from most brands in this sector that selling the virtues of any high quality, beautiful, sustainable product is in all our interests, so it feels like we all share and celebrate each other’s successes.

“I won the Women of the Future Award at the end of last year and that came as a huge surprise, it had only been six months since the brand had launched and was a real validation of our brand vision and our high levels of growth in those first two quarters. It really gave us a boost and showed us the potential and appetite for brands to push the boundaries in retail and challenge the status quo.”

“We entered into the swimwear industry because we felt it was ripe for disruption – scantily clad 6ft models demonstrating how to perch delicately beside a pool doesn’t sell a love for the ocean and a passion for enjoying and celebrating the sea and everything it has to offer.

“Instead we wanted to celebrate real life ocean lovers – the duck divers, cannonballers, wild swimmers and water babies among us.”

“Our influencers from the wider retail industry include – Rapha CC and their mission to ‘sell cycling’, brands like Patagonia and Finisterre for their ethical credentials and their natural lifestyle branding. Style-wise we are always admiring the classic lines, elegance and tailoring from fashion brands like Burberry and Stella McCartney who celebrate the beauty of the female form.

“We’re in talks with some really fab names and brands about upcoming collaboration pieces,” reveals Newcombe, when asked about exciting things in the pipeline. “We’re not giving anything away at this stage…watch this space. We’re shooting some new video footage of some fabulous inspirational women who are out and about enjoying the oceans.

“New pieces to expand our Waste Collection range are in development as we speak. These pieces will be additions to the range to cater to more shapes, sizes and styles rather than replacing our existing collection.

“While we mainly sell direct through our website – do keep an eye out for popups this Summer as we’re out and about showing off our kit in various locations!”

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