CleanWake: Hulya Swim Is Cleaning The Ocean

Hannah Patten, CEO and founder of Hulya Swim has raised the bar in the sustainably sourced swimwear market. Her bathing suit collections are made from sustainable materials including recycled ghost nets and other ocean debris.

Shopping sustainably for swimwear has never been more fun. Hulya Swim is designed for surfers and ocean explorers who, like Hannah, have an unquenchable thirst for wanderlust. Their signature style is sporty and fun. They are available to buy in a kaleidoscope of colours. The reef collection features striking splashes of neon shades, which look striking with a tan. Their ultra-flattering cuts are designed to enhance your silhouette, whatever your shape or size. Choose from high- leg bottoms, fine multi-straps, and a range of luxurious fabrics.

Hannah Patten on the beach

Hannah Patten, CEO and founder of Hulya Swim. Image credit: John Garza.

#CleanWake had the opportunity to chat to Hannah about what motivated her to take action and how she manages to ‘magic up’ amazing bikinis from ocean debris.

Hannah’s Story: “I Need to Be in the Water.”

Hannah was raised in South Florida and grew up on the beach. Sun, sea and sand is part of Hannah’s DNA. Her adventurous spirit drove her to get her scuba diving certification, and she quickly fell in love with diving, “It opened my eyes to another world. The vibrant and colourful reefs are a delight to witness and diving alongside marine life is a powerful experience.” Hannah explored as many diving sites as she could, including shipwrecks, caves and caverns, and coral gardens. “Trash by the reef looked incongruous with the beautiful environment. I would put everything I could find in my pouch, from golf balls, to plastic cups, to fishing lines.”

Hannah diving next to marine life

Hannah Patten diving. “Diving alongside marine life is a truly powerful experience.” Image credit: John Garza

Illuminating the Coral Ghosts in the Reef

On one of Hannah’s diving trips, a close friend of hers brought a device with a purple UV light on his camera. “When he shone the light on the ocean bed, it illuminated all of the dead coral on the reef,” says Hannah. She took a look through the lens, and the entire ocean floor lit up white. She describes the moment, “It was like looking at a white sand. It was a huge wake up call for me. I wondered what these dive sites look like 10 years ago when I was a kid, and it’s kind of heart-breaking.”

Hannah did everything in her power to earn more free dives, including cleaning boats. Working at a scuba shop in Boston gave her the perfect gateway into diving. Hannah went diving regularly, where she saw fishing gear, and marine debris in the ocean on a regular basis, and in Hannah’s words, “This lit fuel to my fire.”

It was a pivotal moment for Hannah, so when a friend told her that she was setting up a swimsuit company, Hannah asked if they could join forces to make it sustainable. The two worked collaboratively together and Hulya Swim was born.

Hannah Patten diving in the sea

Hannah Patten diving wearing Hulya Swim. Image credit: John Garza

Sourcing Recycled Fabrics from Sea Shepherd

The material Hulya Swim currently uses is made of a mixture of materials sourced from Sea Shepherd, including ghost nets, and carpet fibres. When the Sea Shepherd’s are out on sea on a mission, they find huge amounts of marine debris, which they pull in, and send it onto factories. Wherever there is whaling, the Sea Shepherds can be found on a mission, fighting the big ships that kill our whales in the ocean, primarily in Japan.

Turning Single-Use Plastic into Something Fantastic

Hannah has moved onto the next stages of recycling creating her bikinis using leftover plastic water bottles. Melting the plastic at a high pressure, breaks it down into fine plastic fibres which are spun for almost two weeks, until eventually it becomes like a thread, which is weaved into a fabric. The swimwear will be constructed using 97-98% recycled plastic, leaving 2-3% of spandex for elasticity. Hannah comments on Hulya Swim collaboration with Madison Stewart, “We are launching a one piece featuring a shark jaw design which wraps around the body, it’s created using 20 plastic water bottles.”

Made for Ladies Who Love the Water

Friends heading out for a surf

Hulya Swim. Image credit: John Garza

Hannah thinks the key to Hulya’s Swim’s success is producing a bikini which looks and feels amazing, otherwise it won’t be worn, and their customers will end up buying something else after a couple of months- which would be counterproductive. “There are a lot of sustainable swimsuit companies in the swimwear market, but unfortunately they are not always flattering,“ says Hannah. Hulya Swim is made for people who like being in and around the water. “We work hard to make sure that the shopping experience isn’t transactional. We want to educate our customers about some of the environmental issues the world is facing right now. We provide simple tips on how to be more sustainable without preaching,” says Hannah. “I think it’s important to learn to be imperfectly sustainable.”

Hannah Patten taking a moment to reflect on ocean conservation

“Cleaning the reefs, we love to dive, the beaches we love to roam, and the oceans we love to explore,” Hannah Patten is wearing a Hulya Swim bikini. Image credit: Hulya Swim

If you are thinking of setting up your own sustainable business to help save our oceans, remember that any fin is possible.

Competition Time

Boat Trader is doing a scrunchie pack (made from remnants of the sea) giveaway on Instagram the week of April 19, leading up to Earth Day on Thursday, April 22. The lucky winner will also win a $50 gift card to spend at Hulya Swim. Good luck!

Written by: Emma Coady

Emma Coady is a freelance writer and marine journalist who creates content for many household names in the boating industry, including YachtWorld, Boat Trader and She also writes for several boat builders as well as charter and rental companies and regularly contributes to Greenline Hybrid yachts, TJB Super Yachts and Superyachts Monaco. Emma is the founder of Cloud Copy and enjoys traveling around Europe, spending as much of her spare time as possible in or on the water.