The Naeco range is based on a unique mix of tailored simplicity with sustainability. The new beachwear collection, founded by Zak Johnson aims to create sustainable, high-quality, fashionable beachwear. The subtle British brand’s shorts are suitable for Ibiza beach parties and English coastal getaways alike. Their collection of modern classic shorts is worlds apart from the baggy board shorts, briefs or ubiquitous drawstring boxer short style’s we are all to used to seeing. It is rare to see a sustainable brand creating such a high-end beautiful garment. Gone are the days of the plain hemp t-shirts and badly fitting hippie clothing. Sustainability just got an upgrade.
Based in London,
Where did the name Naeco come from?
“The brand was always going to be centred around water, I personally love the ocean and spending time in it. I wanted the brand name to be short and catchy so went through many interesting ideas – however Naeco stuck. It is actually ‘Ocean’ backwards and this simplicity of our product going back to the ocean really resonated with me and I hope it does with my customers too.”
You create luxury swimwear out of recycled polyester from discarded plastic bottles. While plastic pollution is a huge issue, why is this cause so close to your heart?
“This cause is incredibly close to my heart as I am a kite surfer and scuba diver, so spend a massive amount of my down time in the ocean. Over the years I saw more and more plastic in the ocean and it was spoiling the eco system. Plastics play an important role in almost every aspect of our lives. This is a huge problem, we now use about 20 times more plastic than we did 50 years ago. However, we can optimise the lifespan of plastics by reusing and recycling items as many times as possible. Plastic bottles, straws and other plastic waste is collected and passed through a series of steps of cleaning and crushing to obtain plastic flakes which, through a mechanical process are converted into rough polyester spun fibre that is manipulated to obtain the final quality. This recycled yarn is then used to develop our fabrics. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. It’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, or 10 bags full of plastic per foot of coastline. The worst part; this is not a natural disaster – humankind created this issue and we need to fix it.”
How would you describe the style of Naeco? Who do you envision wearing your swim shorts?
“The style was actually born from a need to be able to wear swim shorts at my local beach café. They didn’t allow us kite surfers in wearing our wet suits or surfing gear like board shorts. This got me thinking on the style. I thought, what if we could make board shorts that were strong enough to surf in, made from ocean plastic but looked like smart shorts so I could go to the café after a session? So, I designed the shorts to fool the local cafes into thinking we went to the car and got changed. I even added a concealed side zip to hold our brilliant new waterproof money. We now see many types of customer buying Naeco shorts. We have surfers and extreme sports professionals, to casual beach wearers and those at the beach club. They are tailored to fit most occasions and we don’t do wild patterns – this means they look more formal and fit better than elasticated waistbands. They are at the premium price point as we manufacture here in the UK, are a living wage employer and offer a full 5-year guarantee on every item. We believe you should buy a product that is built to last – no fast fashion here.”
You started the brand with a relatively small collection. What are your plans for future collections?
“In the future we would like to grow the collection to encompass more of your daily life, not just the beach. We have other items we have designed and have created that are ready to be launched, including jackets, shirts, polo shirts and blazers. We would like to introduce these very soon.”
One piece of advice for our readers
“I often ask people what the last sustainable purchase they remember making. Most people really struggle with this question. If everyone made one sustainable, considered purchase a year the world would be a much better place. Buying a high quality, sustainable product is a much better choice as it lasts longer, is generally guaranteed for a longer period of time and it helps our environment. There are many simple sustainable choices such as refillable coffee cups, clothes and electric cars.”