Oy is a Swiss surf brand committed to the development of sustainable and high-quality surf wear. The siblings Zelia and Dario Zadra run the brand from two locations; While Zelia is responsible for the product design and takes care of communications and marketing from her studio in Zurich. Dario, who studied product design, lives in Berlin. Since he has joined as a partner, he is primarily in charge of the online store and sales for Europe.
Growing up away from the coast, how did you discover surfing?
We first came across surfing as kids during a vacation with our parents in Portugal. That’s when we discovered our passion for the waves and surfing, and it hasn't let us go ever since. We were gripped by the travel bug and every vacation was spent surfing. As far away as possible and as often as possible! To work professionally in this field was only a logical consequence, and surfing quickly became more than just a hobby for us.
"I got tired of compromising and decided to take things into my own hands and founded Oy"
Zelia, what inspired you to set up Oy? How and when did Oy come into existence?
After my education as a graphic designer I travelled around Bali for several months. Because I couldn’t find a bikini that would stay in place after a wipeout, I helped myself by additionally pulling a T-shirt over the top while surfing. Sharing this frustration with other surfers I quickly realised that many of them felt the same way. So, I got tired of compromising and decided to take things into my own hands and founded Oy together with a friend in 2012 in Switzerland and Bali. We had the first collections produced in Bali. Since then, nine years have passed in which the label has constantly evolved and improved.
Zelia, what have been your biggest challenges since starting Oy?
In the beginning, Oy was really just a hobby. There was neither the economic, nor the temporal capacity to take it to the next level. The growth and development came slowly. We had to fight hard and put our heart and soul into it in order to be able to exist alongside other big brands. Through this time, we were carried by the great feedback of our customers, without whom we would not have made it.
"We have really serious plans for the next years and hope that we can realise our vision."
Dario, you’ve gone through a major re-branding this year. Could you tell us a little more about the changes?
The re-branding was a big step for us and a new commitment, however, the feedback from customers and our plans and wishes for the brand in the future ultimately helped us make the decision. You could say that Oy has more or less grown up. This development also entailed some internal restructuring. During this process, I decided to fully join Oy and quit my other job.
Besides our core product Surf Bikinis, we are successively expanding the product range. In recent years, yoga and active wear played an increasingly important role. But we are not done with that yet. We have really serious plans for the next few years and hope that we can realise our vision. You can be curious about what is still to come.
Dario, how do you check sustainability claims and quality from your manufacturers?
We are always looking out for new innovative materials that are ideally based on natural resources or at least don’t use any virgin oil-based resources. We hope to produce products with the lowest possible impact on nature that are still high performance and let you enjoy surfing. Together we invest a lot of time in research, product development and also accompany the production on site in Portugal. A few years ago, we decided to produce exclusively in Europe and only use materials that are produced here. A large part of the fabrics used are now made of Econyl, which is mainly produced from recycled industrial waste. We also invest a lot of time in tracking back the sources of all materials used for our products. Additionally, we just commissioned a life cycle assessment to find out where we can improve our production. We are really excited about the results and can’t wait to take action for improvement. Our goal is to be able to completely recycle our own product again in the spirit of the circular economy. In order for the bikini to fit perfectly and securely, a certain amount of elastane is added to the fabric. Right now, unfortunately, it's not yet possible to separate and recycle this blended fabric in an industrial process. In the meantime, we have to produce colourful hair ties from manufacturing waste and fabric scraps.
"We just commissioned a life cycle assessment to find out where we can improve our production."
Zelia, what achievement are you most proud of?
We are definitely very proud to be widely known in the surf scene by now. Therefore, great partnerships with surfers, artists, other brands and magazines were established. We also want to expand these partnerships in the future. We believe in the power and necessity of networks. Most of our colleagues, not only in the surf business but in water sports in general, are very concerned about the protection of the world's oceans. We see an incredible potential to unite with like-minded people and to change something. As a small brand, we have a much more intimate relationship with our clientele and can therefore also share knowledge and information in a targeted manner.
In addition, we ourselves are always thrilled to see how insanely functional, durable and thus also sustainable our bikinis actually are.
Any other messages you'd like to give to our followers?
As already mentioned, we will be constantly expanding our products in the future, so it's always worth checking back with us. We are also always happy to get cooperation requests and are curious to find out about what is going on in the scene. The Oy community should grow steadily, we want to increase our own involvement and involve as many other people as possible.
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