This Mumbai-based swimwear brand uses fabric made from fishing nets!

Twenty-five-year-old Leila Veerasamy, the brain behind it took two years to research the project before she set up PA.NI, which launches online on September 2
This Mumbai-based swimwear brand uses fabric made from fishing nets!

Help the earth get rid of plastic by going for a swim. Sounds crazy right? But 25-year-old Leila Veerasamy has made it possible by creating a line of swimsuits using fabric made from fishing nets. The irony is - we don't mean nets from Marina Beach in Chennai or Juhu in Mumbai, which is where Leila is based. After much research to find a sustainable choice of material, Leila's brand PA.NI which launches on Sunday sources 'econyl' (broadly regenerated nylon) all the way from Italy!

Talk about going the extra mile for sustainable fashion.

<em>The pieces are monochrome and have a minimalist aesthetic</em>
The pieces are monochrome and have a minimalist aesthetic

The big jump
Leila takes us back to the WhatsApp conversation back in 2016, which sparked the idea. At the time, she was working in impact investing in Mumbai after graduating from a course on Development and Economics at Brown University - entirely unrelated to the world of fashion."A friend of mine was going to Goa and needed to buy a swimsuit quickly," she recalls. As this was on a WhatsApp group, a bunch of people were posting what they found online - but they were able to find too many options beyond sports brands with bright neon accents. "It occurred to me here in a country with such a developed fashion industry, here was a gap in the market," she says. Six months later, she decided to jump sectors but kept her mission the same - to make a positive impact through her brand.

<em>Design details like rings with a </em><g class=
Design details like rings with a
kutchi silk wrapping and tassles, made by local artisans from Mumbai and Delhi add a touch of Indian heritage " />

Bye bye neons
Fast forward to two years down the line, and PA.NI's first collection comprises seven designs - which include both one-piece swimsuits and bikinis. "I did get some fashion design students to help me out since I am not trained at this," Leila shares. But the vision for the aesthetic is all hers. Here, instead of fluorescents and pops of orange that are the norm off the shelf, the colour palette is set to earthy tones of Babylon (red), Avorio (white) and Mustard (yellow). The embellishments that come in the form of a bar or ring detailing weave in a bit of Indian heritage with kutchi silk wrapping, made by local artisans in Mumbai and Delhi before these elements are sent the also sustainable-sourced factory in Sri Lanka, where the line comes together.

<em>Founder Leila Veerasamy</em>
Founder Leila Veerasamy

Bikini meets crop top?
Monochrome and minimalist, and more impressively, versatile enough to blend in with your everyday wardrobe, she elaborates, "Our bikini tops could easily work as a crop top and a one piece can be used as a body suit." Making swimsuits transition clothing as opposed to an item you would have to have completely change into and out of, in a restroom, was a thought that was arrived at as a result of a 100-women survey done carried out in the coffee shops of Mumbai. "We found a pattern. A lot of women were talking about feeling uncomfortable, not in wearing a swimsuit, but in the act of having to undress to wear one," she gleans. 

Functionality-wise, the survey also presented concerns about weak bust support and the need for more coverage, for some. To meet these requirements, there are strategic design elements such as a halter neckline and elastic band for better bust support and coverage close to the underarm to prevent exposure on the side. As for the name, it's an easy guess why 'pani' (water in hindi) was chosen as the name for the brand. But it's no coincidence, Leila tells us, that in Mauritius where she hails from, the Creole translation of pani is 'not naked.' After extensive trials on models of different body shapes and sizes, Leila says that these suits designed for the Indian woman will not find you feeling exposed, instead here's a collection, she promises that will "finally fit".

Launches online on September 2. Price: Rs 4,500 for a one-piece or bikini. |@brightasunshine

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