As New York City’s only surfing beach, Rockaway has become a popular surf destination. Arverne’s very own Iwona Kapcia recognized that and took the plunge by moving to Rockaway five years ago to be closer to the waves. She fell in love with surfing while visiting her sister in New Zealand and when she came back to NY, she knew it was something she wanted to pursue. “At first I did not know there was surfing and surf schools in NY,” she said. “Rockaway is a hidden gem.” It wasn’t long before she took lessons with Locals Surf School here in Rockaway. “It completely changed my life and I did not expect it,” she said. However, it would change her life in more ways than one. Through surfing, Kapcia met her partner, David Sierra, who owns Sierra School on Beach 65th. It would also play a big role in her career as a fashion designer.
Kapcia, now an avid surfer, just had one issue with the sport—the outerwear. The sport that was once male-dominated, now has many more females riding the waves. Kapcia soon realized that she had a calling to make swimwear functional, comfortable and fashionable for female surfers. “I first wanted something that truly stays on since I’ve had a few bathing suit malfunctions,” Kapcia explained. So she started designing surf wear that would make woman feel comfortable in and out of the water—Anowi Surfwear. “Wearing the wrong swimwear or clothing can actually limit your flexibility and range of motion,” says Kim Perry, a North Carolina native, a surf instructor and ambassador for Anowi. “Surfing is like doing yoga and dancing all at once.”
When it came to design, Kapcia wanted to make sure her clothing was comfortable, flattering, functional and eco-friendly. Anowi Surfwear can be used for surfing, yoga or just your daily activities. The collection includes four pieces—rash guards, leggings, bikini bottoms and tops—that you can mix and match with the different styles and designs. “I think the patterns and designs are also flattering for many body types, and this is awesome because us surfer gals come in all shapes and sizes,” Perry said. The Second Skin Surf Leggings give coverage from sunburn and are a nice alternative to a bikini bottom. They even have a back pocket where you can store a small sunscreen, plus a band inside to tie your key for safe keeping. Another option is the High Leg Surf Bikini Bottoms that won’t fall off or ride up into places you don’t want. The Beach 67 Surf Bikini Top, designed like a sports bra, and Second Skin Rash Guard also compliment the female figure. “The bikini top being a halter neck is great as you can't pop out of it. The long sleeve is good as well as it has thumb slits to keep the sleeves from rolling up,” surfer and Anowi client, Charlotte Ralphs said.
Being environmentally friendly also plays a big role in Kapcia’s company. The fabric used is spandex and polyester that is made from the yarn of recycled post-consumer products like plastic bottles. The manufacturer of this material is called REPREVE® which is made right here in the U.S. This high quality material helps reduce water consumption, energy consumption and greenhouse gases. Also, as an extra benefit, the material is certified to give UPF 50+ sun protection. “I feel so much better, personally and ethically, knowing I’m using sustainable materials,” Kapcia said.
“I wish that everything that was being produced today was produced as responsibly and sustainably as possible,” Linn Edfelt, a surfer and Anowi supporter from Sweden, said. “The fact that Anowi is produced from recycled materials and that the producer knows exactly who is making them (and that they are not people from poor countries, far away, who are being exploited) makes me respect and prefer Anowi even more.”
Living in NY and being so close to the Garment District, Kapcia wanted the clothes to be produced right here. The apparel is assembled with a four-person operation in Manhattan. As much clothing is outsourced from other countries, Kapcia wanted to give fellow New Yorkers the opportunity to produce the Anowi brand instead.
When it came down to the name, Kapcia went through some ideas. She soon decided on Anowi, which is Iwona, her first name spelled backwards. “My name backwards sounded Hawaiian,” she said with a laugh. It’s like my Hawaiian alter-ego.”
Anowi officially launched in March and has already caught the attention of female surfers and Kapcia hopes that others will give to sport a try. “You can learn at any age, and you never know, it might change your life,” she said with a smile.
You can find Anowi Surfwear at www.anowisurf.com. Kapcia also hopes to make her brand available more locally at upcoming Rockaway Makers Markets at the Rockaway Brewing Company, so keep an eye out as Anowi makes a local splash.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS