Exclusive Interview — Casey Eastwell of HAKEA

Featuring collaborations with two local artists, Hakea’s Elements collection is a homage to the natural world…

Working with superior quality UPF50 Italian Econyl fabric made from recycled ocean plastics, the collection is designed to endure for years in both durability and design. Partnered with 1% for the planet, a portion of each sale goes towards protecting the world’s natural landscapes.

“Elements is an exploration of the lessons mother nature provides us. Each element points to the primal rhythms within us, offering a guideline for living in accordance with natural laws and our true nature. Elements are intended as both a celebration and a remembrance of our belonging to nature.” — Casey, founder of Hakea Swim

What is your personal connection to water?

This is a great question, a friend once sent me the book Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols which explains why we’re drawn to water and the calming effects simply being around bodies of water have on us. For me, the ocean feels like meditation, the salty air, the lapping of the waves and the generally slower pace of life relaxes my busy mind.

How did you make the (practical) transition from graphic designer to swimwear designer?

I was working as a graphic designer for a clothing label for many years prior to starting Hakea, so the transition to becoming a swimwear designer wasn’t a complete change in direction. It was a risk however and I dove in a little bit naively, figuring out the aspects of ‘swimwear designer’ along the way. To this day, I’m still figuring it all out as I go — it turns out that’s what being a business owner is all about. What’s changed is I’m learning to have more confidence in the decisions I make and becoming more comfortable with the fact that I’m never going to have all the answers.

I really love your Hakea women interview series online. How would you describe the kind of person you are designing Hakea for?

The intention behind the Hakea Woman series is to highlight women who aren’t necessarily living the typical life society sets out for us. Hakea is for women who are looking for a different narrative, a life celebrating leisure, adventure and connection with ourselves and the natural world.

With the release of your fourth collection, can you tell us what your design approach was, both stylistically and with production processes?

We aim to release collections slowly, I still have and love pieces from our very first collection. Elements was designed during covid and is an exploration of the lessons mother nature provides us. “The sky is calm behind the weather. Pearls emerge after an irritant enters a shell. The lotus emerges from mud. It’s darkest before dawn.” We’ve continued with our core pieces, adding some timeless variations that speak to what’s happening currently but can be worn way beyond this fashion moment. We’ve introduced some brighter colours to this collection, inspired as usual by the landscape and past travels to Sicily’s lemon orchards and the Yucca trees at home in Byron Bay. I’ve definitely been feeling as though I want more colour in my life lately and it’s so nice to release a capsule that reflects that. The entire collection is made from ECONYL recycled nylon which utilises discarded ocean plastics otherwise destined to stay in the ocean.

You aim to limit Hakea’s footprint as much as possible, can you tell us about your recent sustainability endeavours?

We consider low impact processes across the entire model of Hakea. There’s a lot of fast fashion brands today using recycled materials and calling themselves sustainable but to us ‘sustainability’ means so much more. Our pillars of sustainability include things like limited runs based on demand to reduce surplus stock, versatile and timeless designs that add longevity and lower cost per wear. Quality goes without saying, as well as ethical manufacturing in Bali, plastic-free packaging and giving back via 1% to the planet to preserve the natural places we enjoy spending time in. It’s a never ending journey and we’re constantly looking to improve and reduce our footprint.

The colours of Hakea are inspired by Australia’s coastlines and desert landscapes. Can you share a moment you have personally experienced within one of these locations?

Most recently I was lucky enough to experience Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and the surrounding areas. It’s such a special place, rich in culture and ancient landscapes. I find the deserts expansiveness to have a beautiful calming feeling and is a real visual feast of contrasting colour; blue of the sky, green of the leaves and red of the earth.

With our freedom and adventures having to take a pause at the moment, due to Covid19, how have you been finding or making space for personal escape?

That’s a great question! I’m lucky to live in a little slice of paradise, so that helps. Not being able to travel freely has made me realise just how much inspiration I found on trips abroad. I’ve been reflecting on what it was about those trips that allowed me to come home feeling creative, inspired and energised. I found that the break from routine that travel provides is freeing for my mind. I pay more attention to my surroundings, which allows me to be present and draw inspiration from these micro-moments that I wouldn’t notice otherwise — so I’ve been trying to find ways to bring these things into everyday life. Journalling, less screen time and giving myself more time to do nothing are a few things I’ve been practicing recently.

I love the Attenborough quote you have on your website. (Such a typical response for a surfer too!) Aside from surfing, can I ask what other ways you like to connect to nature, domestically and otherwise?

I spend quite a bit of time in nature as I’m surrounded by so many beautiful places. If I’m not surfing I’ll usually be kayaking, bushwalking or hiking to a waterfall. I recently moved to a little property in the hinterland where I’ve been enjoying sitting on the veranda listening to the birds and watching the sunset through the trees, it’s so peaceful.











Imagery by Maxwell Finch