In the ever-evolving world of fashion, there are those who simply follow trends, and then there are visionaries who redefine the industry’s landscape.
Today, we have the privilege of delving into the world of one such trailblazer – Sophia Calvi, the founder of onetwenty swim. With a heart brimming with creativity and a steadfast commitment to sustainability, inclusivity, and empowerment, Sophia has carved a remarkable niche for her brand in the fashion realm.
Her journey from a childhood dreamer to a fashion maven is nothing short of inspiring, and her brand, onetwenty swim, reflects not only her unique style but also her unwavering dedication to slow fashion and the celebration of diverse beauty. Join us as we explore Sophia’s creative process, her commitment to making a positive impact, and her vision for a more inclusive and empowering fashion industry.
Get ready to be inspired by Sophia Calvi, a force of nature reshaping the world of fashion, one stylish one-piece at a time…
Can you take us back to the moment when you decided to turn your dream of starting a fashion label into reality? What was the driving force behind making that leap?
Ever since I was a child, I’ve always dreamt of seeing my designs on people as they walk down the street. I knew my destiny was in the world of fashion; I just didn’t know how to make it happen until the end of 2019. That’s when the vision for onetwenty swim was born. After returning from an inspiring 8-week trip in Europe, I started sketching designs on my mom’s living room table. However, I didn’t take the plunge until February 2022. At the age of 25, in a new city on the Gold Coast, I felt that I had reached a point in my life where I was truly ready to focus on my career and devote all my energy to my business. We all know that building a brand takes an immense amount of hard work and commitment. I also felt mentally prepared to take the risk and believe in myself throughout this journey.
**Some of the designs I sketched on my mom’s dining room table in November 2019 became part of the first collection launched in November 2022!
It’s clear that swimwear holds a special place in your heart. Could you share a memorable experience from your teenage years that solidified your passion for swimwear and fashion?
During my teenage years, I never felt comfortable wearing bikinis because I was self-conscious about my belly. I stuck to one-piece swimsuits and spent hours searching for flattering cuts and high-quality brands, only to come across pieces that were of poor quality and didn’t last long. Despite buying these pieces, I always wished for something like onetwenty swim to exist. Even though I’ve since worked on my body confidence and now love it, I still wanted to create a brand that showcases sexy one-piece swimsuits, allowing people to feel confident in their own skin.
The concept of onetwenty swim is fascinating, with a focus on producing only 20 pieces per style. How did you come up with this unique approach, and what impact do you think it has on the brand and its customers?
I personally love owning unique items that not everyone else has. Wearing something one-of-a-kind gives me a sense of satisfaction, and I wanted to create a brand that offers this same feeling to others. I considered various names like onethirty and onefifty, but onetwenty resonated with me on a deeper level, and I knew it was the right choice. By limiting each style to only twenty pieces, we allow our customers to have something truly unique in their wardrobe. They value these pieces for a lifetime and become part of a movement that appreciates slow fashion and conscious shopping.
In a world that often emphasises fast fashion and mass production, your brand stands for slow fashion and exclusivity. How do you see this philosophy influencing the way people perceive and value their clothing?
Fast fashion often results in pieces in your wardrobe that are not treasured. You wear them a couple of times, get tired of them, and eventually throw them away. They don’t hold a special place in your heart. On the other hand, investing a bit more in high-quality, unique, one-of-a-kind pieces is a different story. These are the items you cherish, ones you want to keep in your closet forever, and would never consider giving away because they are truly special. It’s like the difference between dating casually and falling in love. Fast fashion pieces are the casual dates, while onetwenty swim is the love you fall head over heels for.
Creating designs that cater to various body shapes and sizes while maintaining exclusivity is a remarkable feat. Could you share a story of how your brand has helped someone feel confident and beautiful in their own skin?
Thank you! It’s incredibly important to me to showcase beauty in all its forms through this brand. I keep a folder of all the wonderful reviews we receive because it warms my heart to hear about the positive experiences people have in my designs.
One of my favourite stories is from a customer who said, “I love it so much you have no idea – I’ve never felt sexy or attractive in a one-piece before! I want it in every colour possible!” Hearing that she feels sexy and attractive is what I live for. I understand that it can be challenging to feel comfortable in swimwear, so my goal is for all my customers to feel incredibly sexy and confident while showing a little skin.
Sustainability is a core value of onetwenty swim. Could you elaborate on your journey towards using recycled fabrics and sustainable practices, and how you ensure your brand contributes positively to both people and the environment?
Creating an ethical and environmentally conscious brand was a top priority for me. I carefully selected an eco-friendly manufacturer who shares these values. Our fabric is made from recycled ocean waste, our prints use eco-friendly ink, and all our packaging, from our manufacturer down to what our customers receive, is fully recyclable or biodegradable. Our manufacturers operate on solar power, and they treat their workers with the utmost respect and pay them well above the standard requirements. I even visited the manufacturer myself to witness the environment and meet the workers firsthand.
Every design seems to carry a deeper intention. Can you walk us through the creative process behind crafting a new swimsuit design, from inspiration to the final product?
There’s no specific formula, and inspiration can strike at any moment. My creative process begins with inspiration, which can come from anything, anywhere, at any time. It’s a fusion of my heart and my hand sketching. I could create countless different one-piece swimsuits and get completely lost in the creative flow. The most challenging part is selecting which designs to bring to life for a collection. This brand truly reflects my personality, and I would never release anything that I don’t wholeheartedly love. I believe that if I love it, my customers will too.
Your commitment to giving back by donating 10% of each collection’s profits to charity is truly commendable. Could you tell us about the impact your brand has made through these charitable contributions?
Our goal is to donate 10% of the profits from each collection to various charities as a way to spread love and make a positive impact. Since we are still in the midst of selling our first collection, we haven’t made any donations yet. However, I’m considering conducting a poll on our social media to let our followers and customers choose which charity they would like us to support when the time comes.
Queensland, Australia is known for its natural beauty. How does the coastal lifestyle and environment of Queensland influence your brand’s aesthetics and values?
Queensland, particularly the Gold Coast, exudes a coastal, laid-back vibe with a touch of cheekiness when it comes to fashion. People here are not afraid to show a little skin, which aligns perfectly with my designs. My sense of style is a blend of cheeky and elegant, and this shines through in my work. While my brand is influenced by the Gold Coast, it’s more a reflection of who I am as a person.
Fashion often runs in families. Could you share any stories about your personal experiences with fashion growing up, and how your family’s influence may have shaped your creative journey?
Absolutely! My mother has always been a fashion enthusiast, dressed in designer clothes from head to toe for as long as I can remember. We used to go on mother-daughter shopping trips to the mall, and I would try on dozens of outfits but only buy one because I’m quite selective. My mom and I enjoyed dressing up together. On my dad’s side, my grandmother was also passionate about fashion. She owned the only boutique in the small town of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia, where I grew up. Her influence definitely played a role in shaping my early fascination with fashion.
As a founder, you wear many hats. How do you balance the creative aspects of designing swimsuits with the business side of running a fashion label?
I thrive in a state of flow rather than adhering to a rigid routine. I maintain a weekly list of tasks and go with what feels right on any given day. On the busiest days, when I feel overwhelmed by my to-do list, I remind myself how much I love what I do and how fortunate I am to be in this position. A strong mindset is essential when building a business, and it helps to be incredibly passionate about it. Additionally, having one of my closest friends working alongside me, who shares the same vision and passion for onetwenty swim, has been invaluable. This brand wouldn’t be where it is without her.
The name “onetwenty swim” carries a unique significance. Could you reveal the story behind the name and how it ties into the brand’s identity?
“One” represents one-piece swimsuits, and “twenty” signifies that only twenty of each style will ever be sold. The name came to me naturally, and it just felt right. As we continue to expand, I hope to create lines like “twotwenty” and “threetwenty.” The possibilities are limitless!
Your brand celebrates diversity in all forms. How do you envision the fashion industry evolving to become even more inclusive and representative in the coming years?
I hope to see greater inclusion and diversity in the fashion industry, and I hope to see it happen soon. I want people from all corners of the world to see themselves represented on runways, in magazines, on TV shows, billboards, and in advertisements. When individuals see themselves represented, it empowers them to feel beautiful just as they are, rather than feeling pressured to conform to a certain ideal. It’s crucial to showcase different sizes, backgrounds, ages, genders, and celebrate the beauty in all of it. By doing so, we’re sending a powerful message to people worldwide that they are beautiful, they are worthy, and they are enough exactly as they are. That’s truly empowering!
Entrepreneurship is often filled with both highs and lows. Could you share a challenging moment you faced while building onetwenty swim and how you overcame it?
Building this brand has been undoubtedly one of the most challenging endeavors of my life, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. After launching, I initially thought swimsuits would fly off the shelves, naively underestimating the importance of marketing and brand awareness. When that didn’t happen, I was crushed. Self-doubt crept in, and I worried about finances. I felt like I was thrown into the deep end without a life raft. However, I firmly believe that if a desire is placed in your heart, it’s meant for you. So, I persevered. I believe in this brand, and I love it deeply. I won’t stop until it reaches the heights I envision, no matter what it takes.
Launching a brand comes with its fair share of highs, lows, and moments of doubt, but what keeps me going is my unwavering drive, determination, and sheer passion for what I do. These elements overshadow self-doubt, challenges, and difficult times. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a strong and optimistic mindset to navigate tough times, and I’m fortunate to have an incredible support system made up of truly wonderful people. I couldn’t navigate life without them.
Your brand exudes a sense of empowerment. What advice would you give to aspiring fashion entrepreneurs who want to make a meaningful impact on the industry while staying true to their values?
Be yourself. Design like yourself, grow your brand like yourself, and stay true to yourself. Tune out the noise that doesn’t align with your values because there will be plenty of it. Not all advice is good advice, so trust your instincts and intuition. In a world filled with influences at our fingertips, it can be easy to forget who you are and what you stand for. But it’s incredibly refreshing when someone breaks away from trends, embraces their uniqueness, and lets their authentic self shine through everything they do. And most importantly, take the leap and keep going. Pursue your dream relentlessly until you achieve it.
Our readers love to travel. Where do you call home?
I have a diverse background; I’m half Filipino, half Italian, and I’m a Sagittarius, so I’m all about travel! I was born in the Philippines and have lived in various Australian cities, including Darwin, Melbourne, Adelaide, and now I finally call the Gold Coast home. I absolutely love it here; it’s where I’m meant to be!
What destination is at the top of your bucket list?
While I’m usually a beach lover and tropical islands are my go-to, my partner and I have been talking about visiting Japan soon. I feel like I would return with a wealth of fashion inspiration.