With designs that celebrate the nonchalant, cynical characteristics of our generation, Emily King’s new swimwear label, Low Lives, is challenging stereotypes surrounding the feminine psyche.
While she may be the Melbourne fashion scene’s new kid on the block, Emily’s ‘screw the system’ attitude towards fashion and femininity are getting her designs all the right kind of attention.
“For me, ideals of ‘tough’ and ‘feminine’ are not contrasting, but complementary”, she says. “Nothing hotter than a feminine woman who can take care of herself”.
After moving to Hawaii in 2005, Emily fell in love with life on the beaches, but felt that a lot of the swimwear the girls were wearing was a bit basic; overly ‘pretty’ and in no way functional.
“(Swimwear) is one of those pieces of clothing that hasn’t kept up with the way women want to present themselves”, Emily explains.
So, on a quest to create something that simultaneously encapsulated the ideals of rebellion and femininity, Emily left her beloved Hawaii and moved to chilly Melbourne, of all places, to test out her ideas.
Largely inspired by the Chola girls who hung out at Venice Beach in the 90s, Low Lives’ pieces are designed for the babe who wants to look hot and still muck about.
“Chola style blends glamour with an inherent toughness or feminine strength; gorgeous, tough women with slick manicures”, Emily says.
Emily chose to use local girls she found in the pools of Fitzroy as models, declaring that “real girls are awesome and have the right personality. I love the idea of local girl gangs and can hopefully grow on this idea in the future”.
Characterised by high-cut one pieces, crop tops and edgy one-liners, you could take on the surf in a Low Lives piece with no fear of losing your bikini in the waves; the pieces are actually practical (crazy thought, I know).
“I guess I like the idea of being a bit naughty”, Emily says of her designs. “Anything to avoid growing up and resisting going through the motions. Maybe I never grew out of adolescence”.
No one is complaining about Low Lives’ lack of maturity, though. This kind of laid-back attitude to swimwear design is refreshing in its unapologetic honesty and is one of the reasons this little label is beginning to be not so little.
What’s next for Low Lives? “I’ll let you know when I know!” Emily says. “In a utopian world I’m at the beach, beer in hand. I work because I love this shit”.