Onia is definitely one of our favorite swimwear brands of late. The beach wear maker, headed by co-founders Carl Cunow and Nathan Romano, designs the more stylish and sleek trunks and other clothing you’ll find in the market now, regularly collaborating with talented designers. We got a chance to converse with Cunow and Romano, on their design approach take on performance fabrics, and more. All below.
How does the design process and concept begin at Onia?
Design at Onia begins and ends with quality at the beach. We leave one beach and travel to another, striving for perfectly-crafted swimwear and apparel. The product reflects our relationship with the colors in the change of scenery, the geography and its relationship to the season, the needs of our customer. This framework provides the direction to dictate what we focus on in terms of fabric, detail and technique.
What inspired you during the designing process?
We got inspired looking at shapes of light through interesting bridges. We were thinking more abstractly than usual.
Is there a unifying theme to the collection?
Our customers dress in a way that showcases who they care and how they look yet still remaining effortless – putting on pieces that can be transitional throughout their day, while having classic staples in their wardrobes. We take the typical “beach wear” style that entails just that, and incorporate elements of clean and classic ways to give guys the opportunity to not only wear Onia for the beach or pool, but an as overall lifestyle in and out of the water. Guys like to have the ease of putting on something in the morning and not having to worry about changing throughout the day.
Is there a particular kind of guy you had in mind when designing the collection?
We don’t have one “type” of guy but generally the Onia guy likes a clean tailored aesthetic, a good fit and an eye for quality. We offer many fits in our swim trunks that are suitable for all kinds of guys. Our two best sellers are the Calder 7.5-inch which is designed to look and feel just like a chino short with a snap front closure for the more fashion-forward and our Charles 7-inch which is designed for the more casual guy not looking for all the extra details. Our ready-to-wear follows the same clean, tailored approach with Supima cotton and linen-blended fabrics that are not only fashionable but comfortable for all-day wear.
Did you apply any different or new manufacturing processes?
We’ve developed a new relationship with a storied mill in Portugal that has a long-standing tradition in innovative stripes and stretch quality. They developed our new stripes for our summer collection – these luxury stretch stripes come in tonal colors that complement our core story as well as provide a comfortable dry hand, diversifying our textures.
Are there any particular prints, patterns or materials you’re especially fond of?
We love our Portuguese stretch stripes and our tonal Frequency print that’s a subtle nod to our maturing direction – the black on black Frequency is currently a studio favorite. We love our stretch jersey knits; everyone in the studio has every style in black. We also have a place in our head and hearts for the Calder 7.5 and the Charles, which we fabricate in all our seasonal colors and new developments. In addition, we are really gravitating toward our newest fabrication called Guya. It’s a smooth-handed Italian stretch printed with a Hibiscus Camouflage.
Do you think technical fabrics will ever outdo more traditional materials in terms of performance or insulation?
This is already present in the world of performance apparel. Looking toward our greatest athletes, explorers, and the individuals spending time in the most stressful environments — they are being outfitted in performance, technical, and “smarter” fabrics only. The idea that traditional fabrics can compete based on the innovations they introduced years ago is dated. This is not to say stylistically that purely natural and more traditional fabrics won’t always have a home in an everyday wardrobe, because they will, particularly for traditional purposes and occasions. For this next generation, performance fabrics will continue to push the limits of functions, capabilities and growing practicalities.