The original beach girl, Hanalei Reponty literally grew up in the ocean - on the Pacific island Tahiti, to be exact. A former pro-surfer turned model with a soft spot for Australia (we love her already), she's also turned her attention towards sustainable wetsuits for girls. Described as "a collection of westuits, made for tomboys at heart", Abysse blends the practical benefits of a wettie with a sexiness of cut that only a model could conjure up. We chat to Hanalei about Abysse, her love of the ocean and her mission to give back.
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How has growing up near the ocean influenced your designs for Abysse?
Growing up in Tahiti was literally paradise. I grew up being in the ocean every day. The island life is a simple lifestyle, you get to enjoy the true beauty of your surroundings. My parents threw me on their board before I could swim, and I've loved the ocean deeply since then. This has had a huge impact on my life and especially on my designs for Abysse.
My main goal was to create a high-end wetsuit made of high-tech materials. It had to withstand hours in the ocean, while also looking aesthetically pleasing - a fusion of function with fashion. Growing up in French Polynesia has given me a lot of respect for the environment, so I wanted to make the wetsuit as eco-friendly as possible. We're also supporting an amazing charity called Sirens for the Sea. Lastly, the marine life has inspired my prints - they're both designed after sharks and stingrays that you find in the crystal-clear waters of Tahiti.
Why did you choose to use geoprene over neoprene?
I chose geoprene or limestone-based neoprene, because it's a greener product than neoprene. Normal neoprene is made out of petrol, whereas geoprene is extracted form limestone. Geoprene also has amazing qualities, it's more flexible, more sustainable and keeps you warmer.
Tell us a bit more about Abysse's partnership with Sirens for the Sea.
Sirens for the Sea is an amazing charity run by Malia Rouillon and a bunch of rad scientists. Their main goal is to research, raise awareness and educate people across the globe. They run several campaigns throughout the year which focus on several different aspects of marine life. Our partnership is very genuine and our goal is to raise as much awareness as we can, especially through social media, in order to educate people on [respecting] the environment. I'm very proud to be working with this amazing group of people.
Name your five beach essentials?
Surfboard, Abysse wetsuit, wax, sunscreen and an umbrella!
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Do you spend much time in Australia? What's your favourite beach?
My family lives in Manly now so I do spend quite a bit of time here, I absolutely love it. I also went to Sydney University before moving to California, so I feel like its home. I have a lot of homes! It would be hard to pick one favourite beach as they are all breathtaking, but I will have to go with Wategos in Byron Bay, because it feels like a little hidden gem. I love it!
What's your secret for staying bikini and beach ready all year round?
I spend a lot of time in the water surfing, which helps keep me in shape! I love doing yoga or pilates in the morning, or going on beach walks. Anything outdoors makes me feel good.
You just shot in Tulum at the beautiful Coqui Coqui resort for The Beach People, tell us about that experience?
I loved every bit of it. The location itself was breathtaking. Coqui Coqui is like a little oasis on the beach, surrounded by beauty. The team was awesome and we laughed a lot and danced around as we shot the campaign. We ate amazing food and got to drink fresh coconuts on the beach. My favourite moment was the photo with all the kids. They were so cute and were all dressed perfectly. As soon as we finished, the boys started running and jumping in the water, throwing sand and laughing! It was such a pure moment.