We Are HAH: Looking for Sexy in Sustainable

After 13 years of helming lingerie and swim departments for brands such as Victoria’s Secret and Guess, Sharleen Ernster wanted to make her own design statement.

That statement was to make “naturally fitting” garments, or swimwear that didn’t rely on padding to give shape. It was also to make swimwear out of sustainable fabrics and deliver them in a sustainable way, even if it meant using materials and supply-chain methods that cost more.

Her label’s name is We Are HAH. The HAH is an acronym, which means that sustainable fashions are “Hot As Hell.” The acronym also is meant to read like laughter and stands for mocking doubts about an independent venture, she said.

“When the brand came to life three years ago, people thought I was crazy,” Ernster said. “Why are you bothering with sustainable clothing?”

Ernster said that she doesn’t get the same questions now as when she started HAH in 2014 because interest in sustainable clothing is growing. But there are still concerns about the cost.

For example, she didn’t want her brand to contribute to filling up garbage dumps with waste from single-use plastic bags and decorative packaging.

As an alternative, she uses reusable plastic bags costing $1.50 a bag made out of recycled materials rather than traditional plastic bags, which cost pennies.

The added costs and experimenting with new fabrics might give heart palpitations to others. “I’ve been waiting years to use these fabrics. Now I don’t have to ask anyone to use them except myself,” she noted. “Every business owner should be thinking about their footprint.”

Her line’s swimwear styles attempt to be natural and sexy. “Our swimwear is unique. We carry what we call naturally fitting product. There’s no padding,” she said, explaining it is for the woman who isn’t looking for push-up tops or to contort their bodies.

Retail price points range from $88 for a bottom to $300 for a one-piece suit. Looks include a DIY, or Do It Yourself, top that can be styled in more than eight ways. There is also the GHAHdess one-piece, inspired by classical Greek draping. It features straps in back and covers the front like a gown with a deep, plunging V-neck.

The designer uses fabrics that include EFL, a sustainable fabric made out of a base element of corn sugar. Ernster said the fabric feels like Italian nylon but is strong enough to be resistant to chlorine. It also is strong enough to hold up to digital printing. HAH digitally prints floral designs on some of its swimwear.

The brand is sold at Planet Blue and SwimSpot and is also available on its direct-to-consumer site at www.wearehah.com.