Ookioh: Fun & Sustainability

Vivek Agarwal joined a swimwear club he wishes weren’t so exclusive.

He makes sustainable swimwear, as seen in his Los Angeles–headquartered line called Ookioh. The brand uses Carvico, an Italian fabric that has a swimwear-like feel but is made from polyamide.

The fabric is made from fishing nets, fluff from rugs and scraps generated from the production of nylon—items that would end up polluting oceans or clogging up landfills. Carvico said the fabric is resistant to sun creams, oils and chlorine.

Agarwal believes that interest in sustainable swim labels is growing but not enough swimwear brands are paying attention to it. He also doesn’t believe that the category is the sole domain of rich hippies.

“There is a misconception that sustainable brands are expensive,” Agarwal said. “It is marketed as high end, which gives it limited access. But it defeats the whole purpose. The more people use sustainable brands, the more it will be made affordable.” With more access to sustainable clothing, the more avenues people will have to become good environmental citizens, he added.

The swim line also is supposed to be about fun. The brand’s name is inspired by the Japanese art movement that made paintings and art pieces of geishas, kabuki actors and people having fun.

For its design, Ookioh took inspiration from the sizzle of the early-1990s supermodel scene. For its colorways, it took inspiration from Benetton, which used bright colors and was very popular in the early 1990s. “You want something fun but not bold. You don’t want an ‘in-your-face color,’” Agarwal said of the brand’s sensibility.

The brand was introduced in March. The inaugural line comprises six tops, five bottoms and a one-piece. Retail price points range from $49 for a bottom to $98 for a one-piece suit.