Leila Veerasamy is afraid of the ocean. But instead of signing up for swimming lessons, she sits at the water’s edge, dreaming up the perfect bathing suit made of recycled fishing nets, blue as the rain, and red hot as model Nidhi Sunil, who sports them in natural cut rock pools all over the world.
On Saturday, this fantasy will turn into a solid foundation for Leila’s new business, Pa.ni, a swimsuit label that will retail online; browse their Instagram page to bookmark your favourites for now. Born and bred in Mauritius, and now a Bombay girl, Leila used to be a financial analyst who, towards the end of her last job, had scores of excel sheets and market studies making a case for an Indian swimwear brand.
It all began though, as most things do these days, with a question in a WhatsApp group: where can I buy a swimsuit in Bombay? “When none of my friends could answer this question in 2016, the analyst in me began to wonder if there was scope to wade into the swimwear business. Lingerie e-commerce sites were exploding that year, and I refused to believe that Indian women were not ready to buy a bikini,” Leila tells us.
And The Crest Is History
Pa.ni’s aesthetic is minimal, relying on monochromes, and its mission statement is to build you a bathing suit with a perfect fit but not without the personalization of a small embellishment – a tassel, a ring, a metal bar, usually created by Pa.ni’s artisan partners in India.
The swimsuits themselves are made from recycled ocean waste and fishing nets in Sri Lanka, in a spectrum of colours that are flattering on Indian tones. See model Nidhi Sunil, s(t)unning in maillots and bikinis in hues of mustard, periwinkle blue, burgundy, forest green. Bikini tops and bottoms are sold separately, so we look forward to seeing your pista green bum teamed with a sky blue top. “I want Pa.ni to be that beautiful swimsuit you can talk to your friends about, and one that doesn’t make you feel inadequate because it doesn’t fit you correctly.”
Sample Pa.ni pieces have already been test driven by girls playing basketball near the beach, with no need to constantly adjust the top. “It’s super sturdy while surfing too, but I wouldn’t know,” says Leila, who we imagine is speaking to us from the edge of a diving board, dressed in a foamy white one piece and wondering if her arm floats are a bit much.
Getting there: Pa.ni, visit the Instagram page here, and shop online from Saturday on www.pa-ni.in. One pieces are priced at Rs 4,500 and the bikinis are sold separately at Rs 1,800 for bottoms and Rs 2,750 for tops.
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