Style File: Toni Burke from Kalakoa Swim

Style File Toni Burke from Kalakoa Swim

Toni Burke, founder of Kalakoa Swim. Image supplied.

Toni Burke is a former lifeguard with a lifelong love of the ocean which led her to create her swimwear label Kalakoa Swim in late 2019. Going hand in hand with her passion for the sea is Toni’s dedication to making her label sustainable with her swimwear made from Carvico VITA (ECONYL regenerated Nylon made from recycled fishing nets) and Repreve Lycra which is made from recycled plastic bottles. Each piece of swimwear is ethically made in Bali and shipped to customers using compostable packaging. While still in it’s first year Kalakoa Swim has seen a huge amount of interest from overseas with orders regularly shipping to the USA, United Kingdom and Australia, as well as New Zealand.

We caught up with Toni to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!

Tell us about your latest collection?
My latest collection is a mix and match of fun, bright, colourful patterns and stand out block colours paired with different styles to suit most, if not all, body types. This first collection I really just wanted to get a good idea of what people liked and what people don’t like. I didn’t base this off current trends or other brands as I wanted to really get a feel of what women were comfortable wearing, not just based on what was ‘in’ at the time. Trends are fleeting, the next big thing will come next season and your current on-trend item may no longer be that trendy. I wanted to create swimwear that you could wear for as long as you wanted to without ever feeling like it was last season’s look. This was really my chance to feel out which direction I would head in for my next collection and a bit of a trial and error so to speak.

What made you become a designer?
I have always loved fashion and design. I can picture exactly how I want a particular outfit to look, or in this case with what swimwear I would want to be wearing at the beach. My grandmother has also been a dressmaker her entire life so I have grown up very close to a sewing machine and loved the pieces she would create, I have also recently started creating a lot of my own clothing. Whilst I would love to be able to sew my own swimwear, I would not be able to keep up with the rate I wish to scale the business with.

Style File Toni Burke from Kalakoa Swim

Toni wearing swimwear from Kalakoa Swim’s latest range.

What inspires you?
My inspiration is pulled a lot from being able to create something that makes someone so happy and confident when wearing my product. It sounds very cliché but chasing my dream also inspires me so much every morning.

Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
My personal style is definitely very colourful and bright, it is very rare that I wear a lot of plain clothes and when I do it will always be paired with a bright red lipstick, bright coloured shoes or accessories. This has been the main reason my designs are so colourful and not necessarily ‘on trend’ with the current nudes and pastels.

What is your all-⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠time favourite purchase?
My all time favourite purchase(s) would have to be my Camilla dresses. I absolutely love Camilla’s designs and I love wearing them to events.

What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
A pair of Tony Bianco shoes! These are up there with Camilla, they look amazing and last for years.

Do you have a style rule you always obey?
My main rule is ‘you do you!’, probably not a great rule in a world of style and trends but I always feel if you wear something that makes you feel amazing when you look in the mirror then you are going to rock it no matter what! When you display confident body language when wearing something it is hard for the outfit to look bad.

Style File Toni Burke from Kalakoa Swim

Toni wearing swimwear from Kalakoa Swim’s latest range.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career so far was my very first sale. The feeling that someone liked my design enough to purchase it was the best feeling in the world!

What can’t you live without?
The beach, I have never lived more than 15 minutes from the beach in my life and never plan too. It’s my happy place.

Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Hats! Okay you might, but very rarely! Definitely not my thing.

Images supplied.

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