What do you get when you cross a former Air NZ aeronautical designer with a fashion-model-turned-cardiologist? You get an up cycled luxury swimwear line of course.
A chance encounter between Geoff Gates and Anneline Helms has led to the curation of New Zealand’s latest luxury fashion export label, Cinnamon Swan. Launching just in time for summer, the sustainable swimwear line uses fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, with offcuts from the production process then up cycled into matching accessories.
Gates, who previously designed multi-million dollar interiors for private jets, as well as Boeing, Airbus, and Air New Zealand aircraft, says his design skills are complementary to that of his business partner Anneline.
“When Anneline and I first met, there was a realisation that our respective skill set could be used in the development of a new fashion venture that had export potential.
“Anneline has years of experience as an international model for labels such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Swarovski before focusing on pursuing a career in cardiology and her insights from the fashion world have helped shape the new accessorised clothing line.”
The premium brand is designed to appeal to the ethically conscious consumer, who can appreciate fine designed and originality. Gate says the intricate detail not only goes into designing the swimwear but also the packaging.
“While the swimwear material contains plastic bottles the export packaging has been carefully designed to be entirely free of plastic.
“We use a refined, drawer style cardboard box to present the product which can be reused by the customer as a jewellery box and a bag made from biodegradable material. Even the hang tags don’t use plastic attachments and thanks to another locally sourced innovation, we also have a recycled, water-activated tape to seal our boxes.”
Further reducing the brand’s carbon footprint, the duo have downsized their shipping boxes by half their original design.
Although launching into Australia and New Zealand’s summer months, Gate says the shift will then focus to the European, Chinese and US markets, with price decisions carefully thought through to meet the needs of the Northern Hemisphere export market .
“There is a lot of demand for New Zealand luxury brands in China and we have begun working with a specialist company to help us establish a presence in that market.
“To meet the needs of this market we have reached a price point which can best be described as the ‘low end of the high end’ of luxury swimwear.”
Alike to many other businesses, Covid-19 has made bringing products to market challenging for the brand and meant they had to coordinate their first international photoshoot from New Zealand.
Initially Cinnamon Swan will be distributed through its website and Instagram, which has already gained 27,000 organic followers.
“Over the past year and a half, we have been reaching out to people on Instagram who we felt shared the same values as the brand we were developing. The focus has been on building a quality follower base rather than targeting a mass audience.”
The relationships the brand has developed so far has already seen a number of customers purchase from the website, even as far as the UK, despite the country entering winter.