Meet the Irish swimwear designer killing it in the luxury market

Carla Johnson is the founder of Mona Swims, a premium swimwear brand that also has sustainability at its heart.

I’m proud that my brand is premium, sustainable and Fairtrade. I print the fabric in the UK and then the pieces are handmade by a small, family-run factory in Portugal. The silk I use is sourced and printed in Europe and then handmade in my own Dublin studio. I focus on generating absolutely no waste in the production process and I have sourced a new eco recycled Lycra
for my collections going forward.

Swimwear should make a woman feel confident, stylish and ready to live her best life. I love to see women get excited when they try on my bikinis and swimsuits and silk resort wear.

The Mona Swims woman seeks out luxury and glamour. Her beachwear is an extension of her wardrobe and reflects her own unique style. I was a print designer in London for many years before launching my own label. I travelled a lot and went to international festivals where I discovered a real gap in the market for modern high-fashion prints on swimwear. I decided to combine my prints with retro shapes for a really strong fashion statement. My brand’s signature is the surreal sea-inspired print. I also use darker colour palettes because they’re more flattering on most skin tones. I combine this modern approach with retro shapes.

Zahar Skin Ava asymmetric swimsuit, €232

Silk kaftan in Metal Shell, €338

I’m currently planning a road trip along the west coast of America and I’ll be bringing my new favourite swimsuit, the Farrah, in Metal Shell, with matching cover-up. I’ll also wear the Vivienne Kimono in Vixen Print when not on the beach, as it’s so versatile.

If I wasn’t designing swimwear, I’d most likely be dabbling in interiors. Before Mona Swims, I designed wallpapers, curtains, silk cushions as well as large printed artworks for hotels.

Working with silk, I’ve often thought about moving into womenswear. I feel there’s a natural crossover, plus a lot of the boutiques in which my collections are stocked are concept stores or ready-to-wear boutiques. The brand seems to fit with them better than typical beachwear boutiques.

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