From Kylie Jenner in their internet-breaking cowhide suit to their impressive multi-season collaboration with Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat to the Chainsmokers sporting their men's collection, Onia swimwear is just about everywhere. They are also one of SI Swimsuit’s go-to pulls come shoot season for ahead-of-the-curve, premium quality, comfortable styles. We chatted with Onia creative director Dalia Cunow to get the scoop on their latest collection and find out what it’s like behind the scenes of such a successful brand.
SI: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your latest collection?
DC: For Summer 2020, we channeled the lush natural beauty — from flora to fauna — of the Amazonian rainforest. The theme is translated in specific pieces and new hardware, including wood accents referencing Brazilian teak trees, animal fabrications like luxe python, and verdant graphic prints featuring leaves native to the jungle.
SI: What is your favorite piece in the collection?
DC: It would have to be the Kendra, a swim-ready crop top that doubles as daywear. The slender straps really flatter the neckline and clavicle and the foldover design adds an off-the-beach element. I especially love this piece in the yellow printed rib — it’s such a fun, vibrant summer color.
SI: How do you hope women feel in an Onia suit?
DC: Women’s bodies are typically most exposed in swimwear — that’s why we put such a premium on designing the perfect fit. I hope that women feel comfortable and confident in our swimwear and we are continually — exhaustively so — developing new styles that are both figure-flattering and fashion-forward.
SI: Can you tell us a little bit about how the collaboration with Danielle Bernstein came about? It’s proven to be a huge success and we see that the famous cowhide suit was brought back this year.
DC: Nathan Romano, our co-founder, has been friends with Danielle for years and through their relationship we were able to build a very successful collaboration with WeWoreWhat. One of the wonderful things about working at Onia is that we’re always teaming up with a variety of different creative minds.
SI: What does a typical day’s work entail for you?
DC: It’s always varied, but includes researching inspiration, putting together mood boards, and meeting with the design and production teams to review development for new styles, colors, prints and trim. I also roundtable regularly with our marketing and creative departments to plan upcoming photo shoots and serve as an advisor in weekly model fitting sessions with our technical designer.
SI: What are some key skills one needs in order to be a successful creative director?
DC: I believe this type of role requires the ability to stay committed to his or her brand’s identity while, at the same time, being flexible and open to fresh ideas and opinions.
SI: What do you love most about your role as a creative director?
DC: Seeing my designs blossom from conception —those original ideas — to reality is honestly quite miraculous.
SI: How do you see Onia evolving over the next few years?
DC: Over the last five years we’ve experimented with all the different facets of our women’s line’s identity — in essence, it’s been a comprehensive process to find and write the DNA for the brand. I’m excited to see Onia’s future style evolution while exploring innovative opportunities for growth and change.