PALM swimwear founder talks bikinis, Bali and being boss

Palm Swimwear, Kat Furey

Meet the swimwear that’s been covering bottoms all over Australia this summer, PALM. Launched in 2014 by Kat Furey, PALM was quick to make waves in the bikini market, being spotted on the likes of Cara Delevigne.

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Back in 2014, Kat first produced her own four piece range, inspired by a life lived by the beach, and fuelled by her frustration with not being able to find simple, staple and high quality bikinis in the right cut or fit. Today, four pieces has become four collections and PALM is a label loved for its simplicity, elegance and enduring quality.

Their latest collection for summer 2016, ADRIATIC, dropped early January and we have to say, we’re big fans. Captured by up-and-coming photographer Jean Pierrot, the campaign and subsequent collection celebrate a utopic endless summer, where the sun never sets and the night never ends. Shot in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on model, Giza Lagarces, Pierrot created imagery inspired by the modern woman yet imbued with a nostalgic sense of the past.

We spoke to the brains behind this beautiful brand, Kat Furey, about her inspiration for the latest collection, her abundant travels and how her mum had it right all along with the shiny full-piece.

Palm swimwearKat Furey talks bikinis, Bali and being boss of the celebrity-approved swimwear label

What inspired you to start your own swimwear line? 

PALM was first established in 2014 whilst myself and my partner Ben were living between Bali and Australia. Our love for the beach and coastside living naturally led us to pursue swimwear. We felt there was a gap in the market for more classic and understated swimwear that still stood out through thoughtful, minimal design and high-luxe fabrics. Our aim was to never compromise on high-quality materials, and we have always wanted to stay true to our own simple, yet modern and functional aesthetics.

What were you doing before PALM swimwear?

Ben was living in Bali as a Primary School teacher and I was between uni and work, constantly changing between the corporate world, marketing and fashion in Perth. When we met, we were both ready for a change and decided to start something new. Our love for fashion and the beach then led us to pursue our career in swimwear.

What three things are a must when it comes to your collections? 

Simplicity, comfort and sustainability.

Palm Swimwear, Kat FureyHow important for you is it to have sustainably-made products? 

In addition to PALM, Ben and I both study on the side. Ben is currently undertaking his PhD in Education and I am working towards my science degree. Both these fields focus heavily on social and environmental issues which I guess naturally influenced us to make the most sustainable choices available to us. This summer we introduced an eco-luxe fabric, made in Italy, that is constructed from 100% recycled polyamide fibres without having to compromise on quality.

What sort of woman do you design PALM for? Do you have a particular muse in mind when designing? 

I don’t really have a particular muse in mind when I design. I do however like to keep in mind the type of girl we would like to see wearing our swimwear. Someone who has substance, likes to be active, is understated yet naturally captivating, feels comfortable in her own skin and has a great eye for style.

We know Cara Delevingne is a fan of the line. Who else has a pair of PALM swimwear or who would you love to see wearing your designs?

There are many incredible women who own a PALM bikini including Isabelle Cornish, Bambi Northwood Blyth, Rocky Barnes, Tash Oakley, Devin Brugman, Samantha Wills, Nat Roser, Annabella Barber and Inka Williams. I would love to see Kate Moss or Lara Worthington in PALM. Also anyone else who does understated, natural and classic-cool well like Kym Ellery, Bianca Cheah, Carmen Hamilton and Margaret Zhang.

Palm Swimwear, Kat FureyWhat should we expect from the new collection? 

Our ‘ADRIATIC’ Summer collection is inspired by European romance and the dream of an endless summer where the sun sets late and the nights are warm and balmy. Our focus was to create classic, understated and comfortable swimwear made in eco-luxe fabrics that celebrates the simple grace and natural elegance of a women. We have tried to refine and modernise the classic swimsuit for a timeless appeal. The collection entails our usual black and white palletes, with the introduction of navy and mulberry tones. 

What is your favourite piece from your latest range? 

My personal style is quite simple so I tend to live in my TALISE top with the LUKU bottoms in black or if I feel like wearing colour, I usually go for the NUSA bikini in rouge. They are both great for tanning.

When designing this collection did you consider the trend for women to be more active at the beach these days? If so, what elements in your design reflect this?

I myself love to practise a little yoga on the beach, so functionality and comfort are both very important. The SUVU/RAAS tops with the LUKU/OBI mid-waisted bottoms are great for this as it offers a little more coverage and support. The SOLOR and MAYA bodysuits are also great for surfing whilst the NUSA and TALISE are perfect for lazy days tanning by the pool. Our swimwear is constructed with ‘beauty’ and ‘sport’ lycra fibres which offer great shape and retention for swim and activewear.

What brief did you give Pierrot for reflecting your designs with the most recent campaign?

I love Pierrot’s work so I pretty much allowed him and his team to take creative reign. We tend to work with photographers who we feel already have a similar artistic eye to us. We love the emotive stories that he captures through film photography and felt his aesthetic was perfect for our latest ‘Adriatic’ Collection.

Palm Swimwear, Kat FureyWe heard that PALM is made in Bali. Is this a favourite location for you? If so, any healthy hotspots you’d recommend?

We actually just landed in Bali today. It has been 6 months since we have been her and it is unreal to see how quickly it changes. Bali will always feel like a second home to us, since this is where our relationship flourished and PALM began. Healthy spots… there are so many! We just had breakfast in this amazing new Vegan cafe in Canggu called Peloton Supershop. The food and coffee here is amazing. Must order the Biker Bowl and the Marathon!

What would we find on your work desk right now? 

Right now, my working space is by the pool in Bali with my sketchbook, diary, laptop and shades.

We hear you are an avid traveller and are currently based in India. How do you think this has influenced your designs?

We left India a few weeks ago but had been there for the past 5 months whilst Ben was researching for his doctorate. It was also a  good time for us to design our next collection. The textiles and skill-work in India is amazing, so we couldn’t help but be tempted to start sampling our next restort wear collection whilst we were there. We have noticed whilst on our travels to India and other places, the industry is becoming ever-more dependent on large fast-fashion chains. This inspired us to create classic pieces that last; not only through timeless design, but by also sourcing the finest Italian fabrics that endure longer wear than standard materials.

Palm Swimwear, Kat FureyAs the expert, do you have any tips for keeping our bathers in tip-top condition when they become the only item of clothing we wear in summer?

I always rinse off my bikinis after every use to get rid of any excess salt, sand or chlorine which overtime can be damaging. It is also important to store your bikinis only when they are dry and always use mild detergents that won’t wear down the fibres in the fabric.

2015/16 has seen a massive revival of the one-piece. What trends do you foresee in 2016/17? 

I think the one-piece is here to stay! They tend to suit most body types and are also trendy and functional. I am loving the revival of metallic fabrics. They remind me of going through my mums swimwear wardrobe when I was a kid and wondering how anyone could of ever worn them and thought it was cool. Now looking back I realise my mum was way ahead of the game!

What is in store for the future for Kat Furey and PALM swimwear? Anything big in the works that you can share with us?

We don’t want to giveaway too much but we endeavour to make 2016 an exciting year for us. We have been working hard to expand our collection into resortwear and are now working on our next summer collection for 2017.