A new women’s surf and swim line KEA has popped up in NYC. Cute crop tops and wetsuity bikinis in dark, color blocked hues are perfect for the woman that boards the A at 4:30am to arrive at the beach by sunset. And when you meet founder Patricia at her trunk show tonight and see the gear (at 40% off tonight) you’ll become a supporter and a much sleeker and aerodynamic (Brooklyn hipster meets Bond girl) version of your salty self.
What got you thinking about starting KEA?
I used to do dawn patrols out out at Long Beach before work just to sneak a few extra hours in the ocean. After I left my job in fashion, I spent an adventurous month in Nicaragua. I surfed with a lot of women from all over the world during that time and realised there was a real opportunity to create quality swimwear for the active water woman. KEA was born soon after that trip and I am launching the line here in New York just under a year later!
What does the name mean?
KEA (pronounced kee-ah) is a bird from New Zealand, it’s smart and playful by nature. Its characteristics are quite fitting for a KEA girl.
What sets these suits apart from the rest and what sets a Kea girl apart from the rest?
These suits are made of high-quality performance swim fabrics from Italy. The constructions are chic and simple, great for women who want something that stays on in the water. Usually what’s available on the market is either super stylish or functional, it’s hard to find pieces that do both. The KEA girl is a city girl that craves the great outdoors but is unwilling to settle for anything but the best style, fit and quality. Our inspiration stems less from traditional surf motifs, rather we are inspired by the graphic and linear shapes seen in urban spaces.
What city we find you in by week and what ocean by weekend?
I split my time between New York and Hong Kong so depending on where I am, you might find me in the Atlantic Ocean or the South China Seas.
Where can someone try on a suit in NY and do you ship internationally?
We are at a pop-up called Summer House NYC which is part of Dossier Outpost at the South Street Seaport. We will also be hosting a trunkshow event there on Thursday July 31st for women to try out our products. We also have a limited selection of styles available at Figue in Southampton. Our e-comm store will be ready soon and we will ship internationally but in the meantime, please email us if you have any questions! Follow us on facebook or instagram @keagear for up to date news.
Dossier Outpost has linked up with Smith + Holland to create an urban surf popup at the Southstreet Seaport. Above the after-work crowd, laid-back and lounging in beach chairs on the astroturf, sipping cocktails from the outdoor bar, you’ll find Summer House tucked away in a cool shipping container…now a shopping container. You’ll recognize some vendors from the Bk Surf Flea plus more NY-based surfy brands, curated for easy shopping by Smith + Holland’s founder Chi-pei, interviewed below…
This Thursday Summer House will be hosting a fundraiser open to the public, in support of Surfrider’s bellyboard building class. See details here >
!!btw Surfrider is looking for some volunteers with woodworking skills to guide a group of Rockaway teens in shaping and sanding wooden billboards next Saturday – e-mail email@example.com.
What’s Smith + holland?
Smith + Holland is an independent East Coast brand dedicated to creating eco-friendly products for the beach and surf lifestyle. The name Smith + Holland comes from the very first surf shop that ever opened in my hometown of Virginia Beach in 1963, and with permission from the original founders of the shop, I have revived the name for my brand in honor of my hometown. All of our products are thoughtfully designed and use low impact materials such as organic fabrics and plant-based plastics.
Whats the connection between all the brands that you’ve chosen?
The connection between all the brands is that they are all New York surf and beach companies creating responsibly made products, most of which were made locally by hand. I wanted to showcase New York’s surf culture through all these different brands coming together for the pop-up shop.
Are you a water baby by nature?
Absolutely, I grew up right by the water in Virginia Beach, and have loved the beach for as long as I can remember. Almost all of my travels these days are influenced by my love for surfing, and I have been to some amazing places and met fellow surfers from all over the world as a result.
How did you get involved with Dossier?
I saw posters around the city about the revitalization of the South Street Seaport after all the damage from Hurricane Sandy and reached out to the leasing office about their pop-up shop spaces. That’s when I learned that Dossier Journal was curating spaces in these temporary shops that are made from upcycled shipping containers. I loved the space and realized it would be a great idea for Smith + Holland to share the space with other brands to create a surf pop-up shop. Dossier loved the idea and worked with us to make it happen!
Do you think this popup is part of a bigger movement in surfing/water appreciation?
Yes, I think that the fact that we have fourteen New York brands and two publications in the store is an indication of the rise in the level of interest in our area’s beaches and water sports. Just in my five years here in New York, I have seen more and more people at our local New York beaches and getting involved with organizations like Surfrider during their beach cleanups. I definitely hope to see that continue and to draw even more people into the New York surf community.
What did you choose to support Surfrider?
Surfrider’s NYC Chapter has done such great work in our local community to protect our beaches that we wanted to support their projects as much as possible. I learned of their upcoming project in which they are holding a free two-day workshop for Rockaway youth centered around ocean education while also teaching the kids how to design and make their own bellyboards. It’s a great way to engage the community, and we are proud to be supporting the workshop series and hope to raise all of the money that they need for it.