A weekend away can mean many things to many people. Some of us crave adventure – filling every minute with movement and discovery. Some seek the silence of nature – hiking through a dense forest or floating on an empty lake. There are weekends with family, weekends with friends, weekends at the beach and weekends exploring a new city.
When I asked my own children what they would prefer this summer, they simply screamed in unison, “BEACH!”
After months trapped in the Czech Republic, hiking our way across every inch of these beautiful lands, all they want to do is splash in the sea. And I don’t blame them. I also crave a different color palette. For blue seas and rocky beaches to replace the fir trees and poppy fields.
With Croatia just down the road, we booked our summer adventure in Dubrovnik – and though she still cannot join us quite yet, my mother and I excitedly started planning our next edit on what to pack for a weekend (or week) away at the beach.
And I have to admit, researching bathing suits and beach bags was a breath of fresh air! There are so many amazing European, sustainable designers trailblazing the overwhelmingly saturated beachwear market to offer you quality, handmade pieces. Whether it’s a handmade beach towel, an umbrella made from recycled materials, a bathing suit or a leather sandal, these artisans have taken the time to craft unique pieces to replace the usual fast fashion, one-season disposable beachwear.
Have a look. We are really excited by the craftsmanship and dedication to the slow fashion movement that all of these brands are offering.
And as you pack your own bags, I will leave you with a bit of creative inspiration. While searching the blue hues of European seaside escapes, I stumbled upon the work of Rasmus Eckhardt. The feeling of silence and solitude in his work is overwhelmingly beautiful and his most recent series, “Dreamers” reminded me of the feeling you get when you finally sit on a beach, staring at the impossibly distant horizon.
Rasmus reminds us that sometimes we need to distance ourselves from the world in order to create. And I thought that was a lovely sentiment to bear in mind as we settle into summer.
Red Clover Meadow
Every great escape begins with a travel journal … the blank book, with its lovely handmade pages, becomes a constant companion, at the ready to document your impressions while still fresh in your mind. It’s a place to preserve memories as you make them. The handmade pastel watercolor paper journals from Red Clover Meadow, all tied up in silk ribbons, deserve a place of their own in your travel bag. With hand-sewn covers, 100-percent cotton paper and plant-dyed ribbon, these journals, or sketch pads, are made in Sofia, Bulgaria.
From Greece with Love. Three Greek-American siblings who grew up in a foreign service family traveling the world, always considered Greece as their constant. Their first stop when visiting their homeland, was always Plaka, for a bit of shopping. Specifically, for leather sandals. “They were the same shoes worn by ancient Athenians,” states the website, “and they took us from the city to the beach.” In 2017, they decided to make their own revamped version, and began sketching. Fortuitously, on their next trip to Athens, they met their “solemates” in a family-run shoe-making factory, and took the plunge. The third-generation artisans continue to hand-make Laiik’s modern-world sandals today.
Says Ound founder Paula Delgado, “Ound is an art project about nature and about silk dyed with handmade pigments obtained from food waste and plants.” Delgado presents an almost meditative approach to fashion design and creation. All of the pieces in her collections are one-of-a-kind limited editions. “The intricate process of naturally dying a silk garment takes up to two weeks,” she says. “We forage and collect all the dye matter.” Silk dyes include avocado, eucalyptus and pomegranate, all from Coruna, Spain. “We work with nature to create pieces of low environmental impact and high emotional impact,” writes Delgado on her Instagram page. “Seasonless, long-lasting pieces to treasure, to feel protected and comforted by humble natural fibers and processes.” A simple silk slip dress might take you from a moonlit walk on the beach to dancing under the stars.
Is there anything more charming than colorful parasols dotting the shoreline, tilted jauntily to provide cover to those who lounge in their shadows? Since its creation in 2017, the French company Klaoos has been committed to restoring the umbrella and parasol industry, with local manufacturing that favors recycling and ecological processes. The brand’s creator, Claudia Calcina, brings together European weavers, textile printers, metal workers and seamstresses to create her painterly umbrellas, and all are made within a 1,000 km radius of Bordeaux, France. Her world is colorful, and she’s sharing it with beachcombers everywhere.
The group of creative minds who founded Cluoh, set out to blend their individual personalities in a unique fusion of design, illustration and fashion. The 100-percent Portuguese brand offers items that are carefully handmade by its artisans, including beach accessories that reinterpret the classics in a bold, elegant and witty manner. Their summer collection is all about stripes, and we love the cotton beach towels that can be customized by color, and an embroidered monogram. Or tuck their signature pouches into your luggage — great for makeup, toiletries, or a casual night out.
Eyewear handcrafted from recycled vinyl? Precisely. Vinylize is “transforming faces one record at a time.” A little history: The first Vinylize prototype frames were handmade in 2000 from a Creedence Clearwater Revival album. The maker, Zachary Tipton, owned Tipton Eyeworks in Seattle, WA. That summer, on a trip to Hungary, Zack showed his prototype to directors of an eyeglass factory founded in 1962. He was on a quest to find a way to successfully manufacture frames from vinyl. After a three-year apprenticeship at the old factory, he joined forces with his brother, and the two re-founded Tipton Eyeworks in Budapest. Today, every Vinylize frame is handmade in Europe by a team of 16 people. Each frame takes six weeks to make. This summer, “wear the music,” with sunglasses inspired by your favorite artists.
Margaret and Hermione
“Being naked is the first most sustainable option. Margaret and Hermione is the second,” states this swimwear brand’s website and Instagram page. Founded in Vienna in 2015, by Barbara Golles, the label was one of the first in Europe to focus on sustainability and transparency. “Initially, the products were made from 100% recycled fishing nets,” says Golles. In 2020, they began using a completely renewable resource — a fabric made from castor oil. All of the collections are designed in Vienna, and handmade in a small manufactory in Croatia from Italian fabrics. “The label’s name is a reference to my two grandmothers, Margaret and Hermione, says Golles, “and a synonym for all the women who taught me to believe in myself and live my dreams.”
Cristina and Mariana, painter and designer, created Romualda “with the desire to create delicate and special objects that reflect our love for beauty.” Today it has become a community of free and creative spirits that grows every day. Using ancestral techniques and sustainable materials from Northern Spain, the duo create wearable works of art, like their one-of-a-kind hand-painted hats. These sculptural masterpieces can be rolled, turned inside-out and stuffed into a beach bag — an easy-to-pack accessory that will turn heads in the city or at the shore.
“We love warm breezes.” What an apt tagline for a leather goods brand whose timeless pieces carry memories and stories. “Each SUL article is carefully handcrafted in Lisbon as a single piece until it becomes what we have dreamt it to be,” states the Sulstories website. Created in very small-scale editions, SUL pieces are made only with leathers that fulfill the boutique brand’s design standards. No polish or chemical treatments are used on the naturally tanned leathers. The slight imperfections are characteristic of the animal and carry its history. “We are fond of materials that age with wearing and become worn both by hand touch, sun and rain.” The Bazar bag seems the perfect day bag for packing a few essentials when roaming a seaside village.
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