Natasha Tonic Makes Swimwear Out of Hemp

The sustainable endeavor is both cute and eco-friendly.

Swimwear designer Natasha Tonic is redefining the world of swimwear one hemp bikini at a time. In 2017 Tonic created her namesake brand inspired by her love for the ocean and motivation to put our planet first. The best part? The entirely hemp-based swimwear line is as equally chic and versatile as it is eco-friendly. We spoke with Tonic to learn more about the Los Angeles-based brand.

How did the idea of NATASHA TONIC start?

“It started with me just in general not liking the feel of polyester on my skin and knowing how polluting it must be since it's basically plastic. Back then I was pregnant and I was obsessed with how to stay healthy not only with what I ate, but also what I was putting on my skin. I wondered if there was something else that was natural yet durable that could replace nylon and polyester in swimwear. Since my father is from Croatia and I spend a lot of time at the seaside, I noticed that boats are often tied to the docks with hemp ropes. I put two and two together and came up with an idea that hemp could possibly be the solution to long-lasting plant-based swimwear fabric.”

How did you learn to design?

“Designing for me has always started with careful observation. I grew up around my grandmother sewing everything. I learned a lot subconsciously just by watching her. I also acquired a good eye thanks to my mother and father who shopped only the best quality clothes from high-end Italian designers. When I moved to New York, I was a student and my father decided that it would be best for me to learn how to survive on my own so he cut me off. I was left with high-end taste and no money in my pockets to support it. I would go window shopping, but everything I liked I couldn’t afford and I simply couldn’t settle for second best. So I’d look into every seam of the garment to figure out how they made it. I didn’t have money to buy a sewing machine so I started to repurpose second-hand clothes by cutting and reconstructing them into completely different designs by hand sewing and creating details that I had never seen before. That became the core of my brand. That is why I invented hemp swimwear. I didn’t see anyone else doing it and I needed it, so... I made it!”

Photo courtesy of NATASHA TONIC swim.

Photo courtesy of NATASHA TONIC swim.

What makes NATASHA TONIC swimsuits so unique?

“I truly believe that my swimwear has a soul. Everything I make comes from the heart. Many pieces are made per order so I can adjust parts of the swimsuit to fit my buyer's body shape the best. I don’t like to launch more styles just because the fashion industry needs more. Plus, my line has unexpected colors that are uplifting and always look good no matter your skin tone. My swimwear is versatile and can be used as lingerie, activewear or swimwear. It is breathable and durable, thereby eliminating unnecessary waste. It makes you feel and look good while being environmentally friendly.”

What are the benefits of hemp swimwear opposed to traditional polyester swimsuits?

“Hemp swimwear is breathable, naturally UV resistant without added chemicals, resilient to high heat, wearable throughout seasons and uses low impact dyes that don’t need harsh metals like many polyester swimwear needs. Growing industrial hemp enriches our soil and purifies air from CO2. Our environment needs us to focus on using hemp to make bathing suits and activewear.”

Where do you draw inspiration from for your overall aesthetic?

“When I was a child,I was exposed to high-end designers like Yves Saint Laurent, GUCCI, Max Mara and Chanel that my mother would come home with from her travels. I feel like these styles stayed engraved in my brain somewhere. Otherwise, my love for nature and interest in biology have always been my inspiration for colors and shapes. I always observe my environment -- sometimes maybe too much! -- but that somehow translates to my design and understanding of what the next fashion trend and movement might be before most people are even aware.”

All of your swimsuits are created locally in Los Angeles. Can you share a bit more about this process and your team?

“The truth is I don’t have a team. I am a one-woman company. However, I do have a factory that produces clothes for me and I’ve worked with it for more than a decade. The owner of the factory is Italian and his mother started the factory in the 80’s. I design and make all of my patterns personally and most of the time I do my own photography and website design. However, that is about to change as the company has grown and I am learning to expand. Designing is very personal for me so unless I find the right match, I’ll wait until I find the perfect one for my team.”

How does your outlook on sustainability impact your own wardrobe and fashion purchases?

“I wear mostly only what I design or clothes that I keep in my closet until the style gets revived again. Most of my clothes are my mother's clothes. I tend to buy only things that I really like and that I believe I will love forever.”

Photo courtesy of NATASHA TONIC swim.

Photo courtesy of NATASHA TONIC swim.

Where do you see NATASHA TONIC going in the future?

“NATASHA TONIC is expanding to men’s and unisex children swimwear. Styles will be created as usual with longevity in mind. Also, I will soon introduce one new fabric in addition to my standard hemp fabric that is biodegradable and plant based. This is a new invention. This will most likely come out in July. Also you will see more rash guards and surf-related clothes that can be worn as activewear.”

Do you have any tips for enjoying our oceans while still keeping them as clean as possible?

Yes I do! Wear hemp swimwear instead of nylon and polyester. By doing so, you will feel fresher, lighter and will not release harmful microfiber into our water stream. Also, keep smiling, it doesn’t hurt anyone and brings joy to your inner child.

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Elizabeth Wentworth


Elizabeth Wentwoth is an Editorial Intern at SI Swimsuit. She is currently completing her Bachelor’s degree in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Growing up in New Hampshire, Elizabeth has always loved spending her free time at the beach and hiking. She also loves to cook and bake, experimenting with new recipes whenever she gets the chance.