PHOTO BY Dom Labrecque

Nothing Says Aloha Better Than Hawaii's Own Lokahi Swimwear & Words from the Creator

Beauty & Style

August 02, 2021

It's no secret Hawaii is a magical island with its clear-blue waves, stunning watercolor sunsets, and fiery volcanoes- and nothing captures the spirit of Aloha better than Lokahi Swimwear.

Lokahi's newest collection, Ohana Hana, delves further into the tropical wonder of Hawaii, all featuring hand-drawn designs with inspirations from the island. The Teen Magazine had the chance to chat with the founder and designer of Lokahi Swimwear, Emily Neal, on Ohana Hana, designs, inspirations, and more.

photo by Amber Mozo

"Lōkahi is the Hawaiian word meaning unity, oneness, and harmony.

Lō – means to obtain. Kahi – is the shortened version of ‘ekahi, which is the number one. By breaking down the meaning of the word, we learn that lōkahi means to obtain oneness, unity, and harmony."

The Journey

Tell us about your journey with creating Lokahi Swimwear! What was your take for the brand, and how did the creation go about?

"What started as a passion for drawing the Aloha prints in 2016, had turned into Lokahi Swimwear's first collection by 2017. Inspired by the beauty and love we have for the Hawaiian Islands, the drive of envisioning tropical Aloha prints on a swimsuit that could be surfed in, is what sparked this incredible journey and is still the main driving force behind the brand today," says Emily.

photo by Nick Cribbs

"Our love for exotic flowers, vibrant colors and the feeling of Aloha felt on the Hawaiian Islands, is what we strive to embody in every collection. We are always aspiring for the perfect balance between fashion, function and what feels right in our community, for our community. When we join our community in the surf, and we see them smiling, catching waves while wearing our swimsuits, it is a feeling of pure bliss. It really is the most amazing feeling."

The Ohana Hana Collection

The newest collection, Ohana Hana, features hand-drawn designs. What are the inspirations behind each of the prints?

"There are four prints in our newest collection, Ohana Hana," Emily tell us, and also shares with us the meanings and inspirations behind each print:

  • Leo - Inspired by our love of animal print with a slice of Aloha.
  • Pua - Inspired by our own interpretation of vintage Hawaii.
  • Hana - Inspired by the road to Hana and all of its exotic beauty.
  • Ditsy Floral - Inspired by our love of classic black with a touch of Hawaii.

photo by Amber Mozo

"Our 2021 collection is inspired by warm nights, fire skies, burnt skin, coconuts under the palms, dancing in the waves, showers under the stars, surfing with the moon, long beach days and the aloha we all feel living our lives on these beautiful islands," says Emily.

In Five Words

If you could describe Lokahi Swimwear in five words, what would it be?

"Creative, positive, ethical, empower, love," says Emily.

Sustainability & Love For Our Planet

Lokahi Swimwear mentions sustainability and the brand’s efforts to show as much love as possible to the planet. Could you tell us more about this?

"We work closely and have a great relationship with our family-owned manufacturers in Bali and ensure our suits are ethically made, as well as non-mass produced," Emily tells us, "We pride ourselves on being a small family-owned business and believe in slow fashion. Each year we create a new collection and new ALOHA prints."

photo by Amber Mozo

On that note, it's really even more special knowing that the suit you have truly is one of a kind with its exclusivity. "We work in small quantities to ensure our brand stays exclusive and unique. We do not bring back prints in later collections so once the collection is gone, it is gone! Every suit in every print is limited, unique and one of a kind."

"Our aim is to be as sustainable as possible," shares Emily, "Every order is shipped plastic free using recycled paper and biodegradable stickers. Our plant-based poly mailer bags are 100% compostable for the most earth-friendly shopping experience. We are always striving to be better for the planet and its well-being. Our goal is to create as little of a footprint on our planet as we can."

"It is very important to us to give back to the Hawaiian community, so as we grow, we have plans to donate to Hawai'i-based conservation organizations as well as some local community organizations."

photo by Sea Atoigue-Concepcion

In The Future

Where do you hope to see the brand in the future- in five years, ten years?

"We will always be creating new prints and styles. We will be introducing clothing in our 2022 collection," Emily tells us, "We want to continue on the path of growing an international presence. We will continue working towards sustainability in all ways."

"We look forward to growing our Lokahi Swimwear team and being able to create jobs for the local community."

photo by Amber Mozo

The Akoi in Pua

The Akoi is one of the one-piece swimsuit styles that feature deep cuts and laced-up ties; it pays close attention to detail while placing an emphasis on comfort.

Coming in the tropical, vivid print of the Pua, the Akoi makes for a stunning piece that captures bright, island vibes.

Shop the Akoi One Piece in Pua here.

This slightly high-leg one-piece has a deep-cut, rounded neckline, and down the sides of the waist are laced-up ties that end as a ribbon on each side of the hip. The back of the Akoi is a scooped back with plenty of room for sunshine and meets at the tie on the sides.

It's a suit that isn't minimalistic but isn't complicated, and a suit that has vintage inspirations yet is still playful. The flattering style of the suit is absolutely a look, and the uniqueness of it makes it truly special.

Such a design calls for great attention to detail, and the print of the Pua makes the vision come alive for this suit. The Pua's bold coral red with patterned white Hawaiian flowers mixes the vintage reminiscence with a clash of modernity.

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One of the most delightful surprises about the suit was its absolutely smooth fabric. This swimsuit is completely smooth- almost like a buttery feeling- and I'm awed that it's seamless and hardware-free.

Made with a blend of Italian fabric with polyester and lycra, the fabric is truly like no other swimsuit I've ever seen. It might just be the most smooth swimsuit I've ever felt!

Because it's simply high-quality fabric without additional materials running through it, the Akoi in Pua is completely comfortable and allows for wild, fun adventures at the beach.

The Akoi in Pua is designed in Hawaii and made ethically with love in Bali. Truly taking the love for tropical daydreams and love for our planet behind the scenes as well, if there's a fun printed swimsuit perfect to take along for a beach trip, it's this one!

The Lea Top in Pua

The Lea Top is a crop top style with a tieback tie that makes for a casual, effortless look.

The bandeau top with spaghetti straps makes the crop top feel versatile and easygoing, and the ties in the back add some fancy touches to the overall design.

Shop the Lea Top in Pua here.

This straight-cut bandeau top offers more coverage as it is longer in width. The top is essentially a long strip of the smoothest material that ends in a tie that's almost like a scarf top.

The back can be easily tied into your preferred method of tying to secure the top on. There's something about the tied back that makes it feel like the perfect summery look.

Because the Lea Top is like a crop top, it's the perfect piece to match with your favorite coverup or sarong to make a complete look that you can wear about to anywhere at the beach.

The Lea Top comes in the Pua print, same as the Akoi above; the red and white floral combination feels like an authentic Hawaiian retro vacation- or even more like a vintage holiday.

This swimsuit top is also seamless and hardware-free, which makes it so comfortable to wear. It's also beneficial in preserving the high quality of the suit so that the seams and hardware can't ever turn it into an old, crinkly, unusable swimsuit.

I really am not exaggerating when it comes to the absolutely wonderful fabric of this swimsuit. The smoothest, most non-textured, cool-to-the-touch fabric ever, the Lea top is made of the same material as the Akoi.

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I simply just adore how it keeps it simplistic, versatile, and sporty in the front, but has the prettiest tie detail in the back.

The Lea Top is available in other prints- Leo, Hana, and Ditsy Floral. To view all tops from Lokahi, click here.

The Charlie Bottom in Pua

The perfect matching bottom to your favorite Pua top, the Charlie bottom's high-waisted, high cut places emphasis on the legs.

Shop the Charlie Bottom in Pua here.

This high leg bottom rests much higher up on the waist and has a high cut on the leg. The back is about medium coverage- not too cheeky and not too covered, either.

I love that the Charlie bottom keeps the bottoms not too much nor too little in terms of every aspect, and that staying comfortable and being supported during swimming activities are its top priority.

The bottoms fit nice and snug and offer the perfect supportive bottom to do any fun activities out on the beach.

Coming in the bright coral red and white floral print, the Charlie Bottom in the Pua print offers the perfect matching bottom with your favorite Pua swimsuit tops.

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Altogether completed with this Charlie Bottom in Pua, your retro summer holiday look with the Hawaiian-spirited tropical flowers look simply stunning.

Also, the fabric of this bottom is seamless and hardware-free as well. I love that it truly is just the smooth fabric only, and nothing else!

Keep Up With Lokahi

Be sure to follow Lokahi on Instagram @lokahiswimwear, and shop their newest collection Ohana Hana for the perfect tropical getaway energy!

photo by Amber Mozo

Kate J.
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Marketing Director of The Teen Magazine