As a kid, Becky Morton often found herself sketching during school and on napkins at restaurants – not unusual for a creative child. Except Morton was mostly drawing swimwear.
“I grew up with the ocean in my backyard, so the beach has always been an influential part of my life,” Morton says. “My fondest memories are those made on summer holidays with my family in Byron or the Sunshine Coast.”
Years later, in December 2012 while working as a trainee lawyer at a Queensland law firm, Morton launched sustainable swimwear label Peony.
“I did a 180,” she says. “Swimwear design was particularly appealing to me because it seemed that was all we wore for nine months of the year.”
Eight years on, Peony is a celebration of everything Morton loves about her relaxed lifestyle on the Gold Coast. And at the start of this year she launched her debut resortwear collection, Soiree.
“Our design team is constantly trawling through vintage stores,” Morton says. “Inspiration comes in the form of forgotten beach towels, swimsuits of yesteryear and embroidered-anythings. We are forever collecting fabric swatches, trims and print references.”
The Magnolia culotte-style jumpsuit, with a plunging neckline and elasticated puff sleeves, is made from recycled yarn. It’s light, for hot summer days and comfortable and flowy enough for lounging on the couch in cooler weather. The floppy sun hat is adjustable and pairs with the colourful linen cut-out dress with sleeves that can be worn on or off the shoulder.
Peony’s printed swimwear is made from 78 per cent regenerated nylon, which began life as consumer goods such as abandoned fishing nets and carpets. Custom linings are made from 90 per cent Repreve, a fibre made from discarded plastic bottles.
“Regular nylon is made from non-renewable petroleum oil which is a significant contributor to global warming,” Morton says. The Soiree uses natural fibres such as hemp, linen and organic cotton, and innovative new fabrics such as Ecovero viscose, which is derived from wood pulp sourced from certified sustainable forests.
“We work alongside our suppliers to collect ‘waste’ yarn from the floor of our garment factory, which is then sorted into colour batches and re-spun into recycled yarn,” says Morton.
And Peony’s sustainable practices go beyond its fabrics. Its suppliers are all SA8000-approved, a certification standard for factories and organisations to ensure ethical working conditions. Its packaging is all compostable and biodegradable, made using plant-based materials such as cornstarch and wheat, which can be discarded in your compost bin.