When it comes to swimwear, there's no shortage of stylish and affordable brands to choose from, but in a sea of one-pieces and bikinis, one Australian label stands out from the crowd. Over the past year, Queensland-born brand peony has gone from strength-to-strength with celebrities such as Bella Hadid and Margot Robbie as firm fans, a tick of approval from international fashion influencers, and stockists such as Net-A-Porter and Shopbop. Beyond being ridiculously Instagram-friendly with cute floral prints and on-trend cuts, peony uses recycled and sustainable fabrics, biodegradable packaging and pieces made to suit any woman's body, with everything created to be mixed-and-matched for the perfect fit.
Launched in 2012 by Becky Morton, a then- criminal lawyer who felt her passions lay outside of the corporate world, peony was first trialled at a market stall in Queensland with the hopes of creating a brand that encompassed everything about an Australian summer. Morton and her now-husband hadn't even finished setting up when they made their first sale, and after the brand's debut collection sold out within a matter of weeks, Morton knew she was onto something. "If there was ever a single moment that made me realise peony was going to exceed my expectations, it was somewhere in those early days," she says. "I rejoiced in the validation of an in-person purchase from a bona fide customer. I knew that if this customer loved the product, there would be more like her out there that would too."
"For Australians, swimwear is not viewed in a purely functional sense - it’s a core part of our wardrobes, similar to a great black dress or a white linen shirt," Morton explains of her choice to create swimwear. "Swimwear design was particularly appealing to me because it seemed that was all we wore for nine months of the year, although I had dreamed it, I never imagined that one day I would actually turn my passion it into a career."
Morton's approach to swimwear quickly caught the attention of Australian women everywhere and the business quickly expanded, experiencing triple-digit growth annually since its inception. However, it wasn't until 2017 that peony really started to take off internationally. Celebrities, influencers and models started to be regularly spotted in peony's designs, prompting major stockists, such as Net-A-Porter, to come knocking and propelling the family-owned-and-run business into the stratosphere.
Of the brand's success, Morton says, "Over the last five years, we have grown with our customer. We’re not just creating a product, we are creating a world that our girl is a part of. We listen to her, we connect with her, and we grow with her. We have a very clear understanding of who she is, we don’t deviate from this, and I believe this is why she comes back to us, despite all the noise, season on season."
2019 is already shaping up to be peony's most influential year yet: with plans put in motion to be completely sustainably produced by 2020, peony is currently working on launching a repair and reuse program, so customers can return previous season pieces to either be repaired or regenerated into something new.
peony's Holiday 19 collection, Sonnet, is out now. Shop the range here.