Meet Innes Heywood: Founder Of Sustainable Swimwear Brand Innes Lauren

If you've followed The Harmonic for a while now, I'm sure you'll be familiar with the beautiful Innes. Not only does Innes model our once-loved collections, she has also helped out behind the scenes since the early days of The Harmonic, including styling our very first campaign shoot.

Innes grew up on the East Coast of Bali, where her parents managed the luxury resort Amankila. Innes reminisces about life on the island and sheds light on what inspired her to create a brand that pays homage to her childhood home. It was perhaps these formative years that instilled in her a strong affinity with the earth and the ocean, which now influences her daily life and design process. Innes is now an avid surfer - you'll often see her cruising on her longboard at 'The Pass' in her hometown of Byron Bay - wearing her signature scoop one-piece.

Innes recently debuted her swim at Sydney Fashion Week in the WeWearAustralian show. We were thrilled that she chose to wear pre-loved Matteau from The Harmonic to the show.

It was such a pleasure to sit down with the beautiful Innes to talk about how she approaches sustainability at Innes Lauren, her childhood in East Bali, her latest European adventures and as always, circular fashion.

Innes Heywood Of Innes Lauren Swimwear Interview With The Harmonic

You spent much of your childhood in East Bali where your parents managed a luxury resort. Has this shaped or influenced the person you are today?

Absolutely, hospitality was deeply ingrained in my early years. We would weave frangipani and tuberose into parcels with the children of our staff as offerings of welcome for our guests, and make “jajung” traditional sweets with the ladies from the local village to share with guests over afternoon tea. I now love creating special moments for people, whether that be hosting a dinner or a photoshoot.

"Growing up in a tropical climate by the ocean instilled in me how important my connection to nature and the ocean is, which heavily influences my designs and how I spend my days now"

I also feel it gave me a sense of fearlessness from the nature of being a curious girl who got to roam the property freely. 

Innes Heywood Of Innes Lauren Swimwear Interview With The Harmonic

You recently spent many months travelling around Europe whilst running Innes Lauren remotely. What part about your trip was the most inspiring for you? 

There were some profoundly challenging moments and some moments that hold a very special place in my heart. On the 1st of September in the town of Monopoli, Puglia Italy, the locals wake at dawn every year to bathe in the ocean while the sun rises, a tradition to bring on good fortune. I was lucky enough to be invited to the annual exhibition in Monopoli that week called ‘Panorama’. I remember so vividly the feeling of waking and quickly putting on a swimsuit and wrapping a sarong around me to rush down to the shore. The energy, music, colours in the sky, left me stunned, inspired, a little bit emotional. Watching hundreds of people all walk down from their houses ready to swim and celebrate, to connect, to feel the warmth of the sun as it rose from the horizon line.

"That morning in Monopoli reminded me of the importance for celebration, connection, and the beauty of sunrises. The colours in the sky also left me with inspiration for my new collection" 

Innes Heywood Of Innes Lauren Swimwear Interview With The Harmonic

What inspired you to create Innes Lauren? 

Innes Lauren was inspired from a sense of nostalgia, an importance to slow down, to return to timeless style. I wanted to create a brand that was synonymous to myself - an ode to my childhood in East Bali. The clean lines, elegant shapes and soft neutral tones are the memory heritage that I bring to my designs. 

Innes Lauren is committed to manufacturing in Australia. Has this been challenging for you as a brand? 

Extremely, manufacturing onshore has its challenges. Finding manufacturers who share my business values was extremely important to me so it did take me some time and a lot of trial and error. Of course, the prices to manufacture on shore are much more expensive than overseas so I had to take this into account when pricing and costing. However, having a team I can connect with, visit often and support, was much more important to me than lowering my costs. As my team is small, they can only produce a certain amount of units per order, which for now suits my business model. 

How do you approach sustainability at Innes Lauren? 

With as much transparency and honesty as I can. I use a sustainable techno-fabric ECONYL that is made from regenerated fishing nets which turns waste problems into fashion solutions. Our packaging and labels are also all made using recycled materials. Manufacturing onshore utilising a locally-based small-batch production model has always been at the forefront of our mission. I will continue to explore and educate myself about how I can improve industry practice to create new pathways toward a more sustainable fashion industry.

Innes Heywood Of Innes Lauren Swimwear Interview With The Harmonic

What does circular fashion mean to you?

The ongoing commitment to purchase, love, wear, and pass on or recycle with as little impact on the environment as possible. For me and Innes Lauren, it also means committing to educating, sharing and taking part in sustainable practices. 

Have you ever sold your own clothing or bought pre-loved?

I definitely have in recent years. I used to donate clothing or hand down to my sisters. I now love the idea of selling my clothing through businesses like The Harmonic - knowing they will go to a good home. Re-selling the garments I no longer wear also allows me to invest in pieces I love. 

Is there any particular item of clothing in your wardrobe that you could never part with? Why?

Apart from a swimsuit, it would have to be a sarong. During my childhood in Indonesia, both my parents wore sarongs daily, after a shower, as a skirt, over a swimsuit, as a wrap ect. I have now adopted the sarong into my daily life and don’t go far without one. My favourite way of dressing is in a light cotton sarong tied around me when at home or during warmer months. I have many sarongs on rotation; there will always be a few hanging on my door handle. 

Innes Heywood Of Innes Lauren Swimwear Interview With The Harmonic

What advice would you give to someone who wants to create their own brand? 

Take your time to really think about why you are doing it, what is your story and the impact you would like to have on people. Work at your own pace, not industry standard. Allow yourself to rest. Know that creating a brand will have its ebbs and flows and being okay with that. Lean on people, build a support structure of mentors and people you trust. Remind yourself to celebrate your small wins, be proud of them. It’s all worth it. 

Do you have a personal favourite piece of swim from Innes Lauren?

I do! I love the Scoop One Piece. There is something about this piece for me that feels so supportive for my curves and comfortable when I surf. All my swimwear is designed to be styled with apparel to be worn out of the water too, I wear my Scoop One Piece almost daily with a pair of pants.