Interview With Leaveli: "Leaving the World Better Than You Found It"
Why is fast fashion dominating the industry? and how can we help prevent this? I was delighted to dive deep into this topic in a recent interview with Leaveli: where we also discussed the future of sustainable fashion, the deeper meaning behind Nightswim's garments and how they can be used for daily wellness activities. I hope you all enjoy this read and are inspired to continue living simple and meaningful lives. I have immense gratitude for you all and I am so excited to continue this amazing journey.
Interview with Leaveli
Diana is the founder of Nightswim, a sustainable leisurewear brand. Could you tell our community a little bit about yourself and when did your interest for the textile business start?
I’m Diana Ganem, a gal who spends a lot of time in nature, living a simple life and enjoying the sunshine in Costa Rica and California, loving the balance which both bring — Costa Rica is my zen, California is my stimulation.
Nightswim is my babe and I strive to make the business reflect my own personal values — respecting and honoring the environment and the people, all while expressing my love of this craft. When I’m not working, you can find me at the beach, hiking, having dinner with friends, meditating, in the yoga studio or exploring new places. I treat life as an infinite adventure, there’s always something interesting to discover. My interest in fashion started as a young kid, I’d style my aunts, draw itty-bitty bikinis, and fixed up clothing. It was always just a part of play and that play, I guess has never stopped.
How would you define Nightswim and which is its mission?
Nightswim is a conscious leisurewear brand rooted in respecting the planet and people. Our eco and ethical values run deep, and we honor them always before profit. We strive to empower consumers to make wiser shopping by sharing our transparency and by providing pieces that make you feel confident and comfortable.
Could you share with us your two years of research, testing and developing on how to apply eco and ethical practices to your collection? Which were your conclusions or your most relevant discoveries?
When I first started the development of Nightswim, eco materials and sustainable practices were scarce. It was tough to find options unlike today. For example, our main terry fabrication, I had to work directly with a mill to mix the right fiber contents — organic cotton and recycled P.E.T. That mix wasn’t available in a fabric showroom, it had to be developed. Finding adequate manufacturing facilities that reflected my values was also hard to discover. Most facilities, even though LA based, tend to pay unfairly. It was important to partner with the right people who valued the workers as much as I did and who also provided high-quality skills. It goes on and on, even down to the hangtags, we played with recycled stock paper and soy based ink. Packaging, dyes, and printing techniques, they all really had a long thought-out plan.
Why do you think fast fashion is dominating the industry?
I finally begin to believe that after COVID we may shift away from fast-fashion. Our world was operating too fast, too unconscious, and I believe we are starting to see how our consumption is negatively affecting the planet and beings of this world. We have been trained, and in a way manipulated to reach for new fashion constantly to be relevant. Cheap and fast fashion presentations are addicting. I was a trend forecaster once and played a part in this. I communicated to brands what trend to essentially design and simultaneously sent the same message to the retailer so that they could buy into it— at the end, the consumer would be intrigued by the new novelty item displayed on the sales floor. It was almost a guaranteed sale. People don’t even know that there are professionals studying and analyzing their fashion buying habits to predict what they will buy next. It’s a billion dollar business with a main goal to turn profit, that’s why fast-fashion is dominating. It’s hard not to fall for this kind of trap but understanding the repercussions fast-fashion will hopefully make up conscious consumers.
Which are your fashion related tips that we can adopt to follow a more sustainable way of buying and using clothes?
Honestly, buy less, that’s my go-to. The second best option is shop second-hand. My 3rd best tip is, buy pieces that you truly cherish and will keep for a long time, items that you know will last. Avoid the trends — who likes to look like everyone else? Lastly, research the brands you want to buy from. It’s important to support those who are doing the right thing in fashion And keep in mind that it costs more to care, no sustainable fashion piece will ever compete with the price of a fast fashion item. Instead, adopt a quality over quantity mindset and work on curating a beautiful capsule closet.
What’s the story behind a Nightswim garment?
For me it’s about feeling free in each of my pieces, it’s moving art in a way and an expression of the self. The distressed seams, to me, signify the wear and tear of life and how delicate we all are. We need to take care of ourselves and the beauty around us. It conveys fragility and fluidity. I want each piece to feel as if you’re fully in your own skin, soft and confident. Empowered.
Nightswim pieces are conceptualized in a “Pura Vida” state as we call it in Costa Rica. Where super simple living, close nature reigns. The fabrications are sourced locally in LA with mills and the hands that sew each garment are mostly minorities in Los Angeles and my hometown of El Paso. Love and attention goes into every piece. It’s a long process and journey from conception to sale. So when I see each piece sold, making its way into different closets, I often imagine what each item's path will look like. It’s like a continuation of the story. It’s so gratifying to see how they are worn — during yoga practice, dancing, rollerblading, swimming, frolicking the beach, in kundalini practice, on flights, and accompanying an office space with crystals. Afterall, it’s leisurewear and it’s exactly how I intended Nightswim to be worn so I’m grateful to see that it follows through in alignment even after it leaves our nook.
Do you think a switch to a sustainable fashion landscape is possible in the near future or there's still a long way to it?
There’s still a long way to go, but it’s possible. The halt that Covid has presented really called for some restructuring in the fashion industry. Now more than ever are consumers looking for sustainable options — where demand is, supply follows. I’m hopeful.
What is the basic information we need to look into when buying a garment to know if there are ethical and sustainable practices behind or not?
I don’t think there’s any basic info that I can share. It’s really confusing, like reading a food label. You can’t read a content label on a garment and know that it was ethically produced or ecologically sourced. Especially now that many large corporations have jumped on this ‘go green’ bandwagon, it’s hard to know or trust the fashion world.
You must first ask yourself— what's important to you in fashion? I don’t think people are asking themselves this question. Are you interested in buying the latest bucket hat because you truly love it or because you find it cool or because it’s an expression you can’t do without? If you can’t do without, start to question how it was made. Do you care how it was made? If you care, research the brand it comes from. Do they care about the planet and people? Do they care about the fibers used? Are they responsibly producing? Most brands who honor these values will be happy to share and if they don’t, ask them. Remember, every purchase you make, casts a vote and has a repercussion — we need to start thinking about that. Does what you wear align with your values
Could you tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey? Were there any setbacks? Which would be your advice to someone who recently decided to be an entrepreneur?
Oh boy, it’s never a smooth path. There are so many ups and downs, sometimes I’ve doubted if I was taking the right path. I just never give up though, there’s always that clear vision of where I want to go and do that keeps me going. Pursuing sustainable business has been by far the biggest challenge yet. I wish sometimes I could look away and cut corners but morally I cannot. I hope that people’s mindset and awareness towards fashion continues to change so that businesses like my and others with similar values have room to operate. To any new entrepreneur, I’d say to keep your vision clear, and make sure you dive into what you truly love doing. I couldn’t imagine pursuing Nightswim, if I wasn’t in love with my craft. It takes dedication and determination but above all, it takes love for what you’re doing.
How do you see yourself and Nightswim in 5 years time? Are there any goals or dreams that you would like to see accomplished?
In 5 years, I see Nightswim integrating wellness activations into our retail experience. I also see a Nightswim destination in Costa Rica in which we can co-create, stay, experience or simply enjoy the lifestyle that is Nightswim. With a swimming pool, garden, creative space, wellness nook and services, a design studio and shop plus sleeping accommodations.