Hakuna Wear - Lovina Long Sleeve Surf Suit

overall rating:



Georgia Haak
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Hakuna Wear is a small, slow fashion company owned by women. Their mission is to empower everyone to get out into the ocean and embrace their individuality. While the company promotes sustainability and many of their materials are sustainable, much of the information on their website is slightly vague and unspecific. I left the research process with many unanswered questions. The lack of information makes it difficult to verify many of their claims of sustainability. I specifically reviewed the Lovina Long Sleeve Surf Suit in Peachy Storm. It retails at $149. While this is on the expensive side, the company completely avoids using neoprene, and the alternative fabrics are more expensive to produce. Overall, Hakuna Wear has a lot of interesting ideas and important platforms, but they have ample room for improvement in terms of transparency and detail.

What it's made of:


All of Hakuna Wear’s swimsuits are made of Repreve and Yulex. Repreve is a fabric made by the company Unifi. They take recycled post-consumer plastic and transform it into a recycled polyester fabric. Recycled polyester reduces waste by using recycled bottles, however, any form of polyester fabric is imperfect. For instance, recycled polyester releases micro-plastics into waterways through washing machines, which is bad for wildlife and the environmental in general. Nonetheless, avoiding synthetic polyester and keeping plastic from the ocean is a great start. Yulex is a substitute for neoprene and is made from natural rubber. It is currently the only sustainable alternative for neoprene in the surf and swimwear world. Neoprene is a petroleum derived synthetic rubber that is non-renewable and non-biodegradable. Yulex is made entirely from plants, as their rubber is from hevea trees. Rubber is quite sustainable, as it is a natural, renewable resource. To dye the fabrics, Hakuna uses dye-sublimination, which is a process of printing patterns and colors on the swimwear with zero waste. It turns a solid directly into a gas to print, and avoids the liquid stage, meaning no water is used. This is a highly sustainable mechanism to dye fabric. While there are imperfections in the fabrics, these choices of materials are quite sustainable relative to traditional swimwear technology. However, the Hakuna Wear website is fairly general when stating it uses all recycled fabrics. This leaves questions about where zippers, threads, labels, and any other aspects of the suit come from, in addition to questions about if Repreve and Yulex constitute 100% of the fabric used or if others are mixed in as well. 

How it's made:


Hakuna does not mass-produce, but rather manufactures its products in small batches to avoid waste. This avoids the pitfalls of fast fashion. Additionally, they offer repair processes to extend the lives of the garments. The production of the Repreve fabric uses less water and energy, and releases fewer emissions than traditional polyester. The plastics that Repreve uses are gathered from within 50 kilometers of the coastline in countries with unsatisfactory recycling methods, which prevents plastics from entering the ocean. Additionally, Unifi, the company that makes Repreve, has a solar farm that reduces energy consumption in production. The rubber used to produce Yulex is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit, third party that claims to ensure forests are used in ways that are environmentally, socially, and economically responsible. There is debate about how effective an FSC certification truly is, with some environmental organizations accusing these certifications of greenwashing. That being said, in order for rubber to be FSC certified, companies sourcing the rubber must have never engaged in deforestation, violated human rights, or overused dangerous pesticides. Furthermore, only 4% of rubber producers receive this certification, suggesting that Yulex is doing something significantly better than most companies. Yulex does purify their rubber, but this process is also FSC certified. Overall, Yulex production releases 80% less carbon dioxide emissions than neoprene production. While there is information about how the materials used are made, there is little to no information available on the Hakuna Wear website, or elsewhere, to explain how the suits themselves are made. Therefore, it is unclear if the facilities, sewing methods, and transportation used are sustainable.

Who makes it:


Hakuna is an entirely woman owned business based in Oceanside, California. They celebrate diversity and aim to empower everyone from every walk of life. Despite being a small brand, they engage in projects to aid the community. They have donated to the NAACP and healthcare workers, and 10% of the profits of their Lehua Collection go to the Rapid Ohia Death research fund, which aims to save the ʻŌhiʻa Lehua trees native to Hawaii. While the Hakuna Wear website states that the products are all designed in California, it does not specify where they are made or who makes them. Searching the internet, a website that did a review several years ago stated they were made in San Diego. However, I was not able to verify this anywhere else, and other information regarding the brand in the article was outdated. The lack of information about the labor practices, location, and people is concerning. The labor practices could easily be unethical and could be anywhere in the world. Considering the fact that the brand has so much to say about sustainability and their materials, it seems suspicious that there is no information about how the products are made and who makes them.