You might have noticed the bold prints and ruffly straps cropping up on your instagram feed. Swimwear brand of the summer, Ayla seems to be everywhere all of a sudden, with fashion fans from Laura Jackson to Alexandra Shulman helping spread the word. After all, this is still the very first collection from the small London-based brand that includes mix-n-match bikinis and cool high waisted trousers. Here we meet the founders, Kirsty Ames and Heidi Sommerau to talk travel, life on the beach and London’s best summer haunts:
Kirsty: I live in Notting Hill. I love strolling through Portobello Market and exploring the vintage and antique shops on Golborne Road. And of course it’s the home of Notting Hill Carnival – a big one for us.
Heidi: I’m a Brixton girl. It’s such a vibrant place full of energy, culture and food. You can’t beat Brixton village…home to Mama Lan, one of my favourite local places to eat.
Where did you grow up and how has that influenced your brand?
Kirsty: I grew up between London and New York but I spent all my holidays in Trinidad and Tobago where my father is from.
Heidi: I was born and raised in Hong Kong, so was lucky to never be too far from the sea.
We had the idea for Ayla on the beach in Tobago, post-Trinidad carnival, and the prints in our first collection are inspired by the two islands. We are both city girls that grew up loving our time on the beach. We wanted to create a swimwear brand for fashionable, city women who (like us) love to travel and want to feel at their best when they do.
Why did you decide to add trousers to the range?
Our swimwear fabric is super soft (and eco-friendly) and it was important to us that our designs are stylish, without compromising on comfort. We know how hard it is to find swimwear that fits, so our collection is sold as separates and they can be mixed and matched depending on your destination, personal style or mood.
We decided to design high-waisted, loosely tailored trousers to transform swimwear into a statement look. They are perfect for those long, rosé-fuelled lunches and the day parties that roll into the night!
Who is the Ayla woman?
The Ayla woman may not live on the beach, but she is always planning (or stumbling upon!) her next adventure and wants a stylish but fuss-free beach wardrobe that can keep up with her.
What’s your favourite beach in the world?
Castara beach in Tobago. Trendy cocktails and DJ’s are in short supply but the water is an amazing green colour and there is a restaurant right on the beach with amazing rum punch and fresh fish. We love it so much we named our bandeau bikini after it.
Where are you off to this summer?
Kirsty: We have had a busy summer launching the brand, but I have squeezed in a long weekend in Ibiza and a week in the Peloponnese.
Heidi: I was in Puglia for a wedding at the beginning of the summer and have been enjoying the heatwave in London since!
Favourite cocktail/drink on the beach?
Nothing beats a day of drinking rosé with friends, but we also both love an Aperol Spritz.
Where’s your favourite summer hangout in London?
What are you three beauty essentials for the beach?
- This Works Energy Bank Sun Flash– you mix it into your moisturiser for a natural glow. It’s perfect for when you have just arrived somewhere and are feeling a bit on the pale side.
- Maybelline waterproof mascara – panda eyes is not a good look!
- Suncream (the hypo-allergenic kind as Heidi is allergic to most). We will both admit to being sun-worshippers, but nobody wants sun-damaged skin.
What’s in the pipeline for Ayla?
We’ve only just launched, but we are already busy working on our next collection! We will continue to introduce new beachwear pieces and swimwear styles that look great together as an outfit. And of course, a few adventures to test it all out…