AURAI SWIMWEAR is a brand with a strong ethical and sustainability message. They have recently teamed up with Karin Horen to create a special collection, One Of Us The Project, that enables women who have battled breast cancer to wear fashionable swimwear.

AURAI SWIMWEAR was created by Italo-Brazilian designer Natalia Bertolo. Sustainability and the environment are very important to the brand so they use revolutionary polyamide fibres made from 100% regenerated material, pre and post-consumer nylon waste such as nylon plastic scraps, old carpets and fish nets that litter our oceans to create beautiful swimwear.

One Of Us The Project x AURAI SWIMWEAR is a special collection dedicated to women who have battled breast cancer. While it can be worn by all women, the collection was designed to support the mastectomy prosthesis.

Karin Horen, twice breast cancer survivor, co-founder of Paddle For Hope and NZ Starboard ambassador, was looking for a mastectomy-friendly swimwear that would suit her age, lifestyle and figure.

Very often, swimwear designed for women that had a mastectomy is neither stylish nor elegant. Karin was looking for swimwear like the ones she wore before her surgery but couldn’t wear anymore.

While mastectomies save lives, they leave visible and invisible scars on women. Lack of confidence and body image issues are common for women who have undergone mastectomies. One of Us was created for women who don’t define them as breast cancer survivors or patients. They want fun, easy-to-wear, eco-friendly and chic swimwear.

AURAI SWIMWEAR is now fundraising to have the innovative new collection available for more women.

We sat down with Natalia to discover more about this unique collaboration.

FTV: When did you first realize you wanted to be a designer? 

Natalia Bertolo: I guess I’ve always been drawn towards beautiful things, fashion being one of them. My interest in art eventually reached design, ergonomics and the Bauhaus movement, and my passion for history evolved in trying to capture the zeitgeist through my own creations.

What was the driving force in creating AURAI? 

Having grown up in one of Brazil’s biggest leather and footwear production hubs, I was able to see the extent of the local industry’s environmental impact over the years. The fact that sustainability in fashion wasn’t a big part of my fashion design curriculum at university ultimately inspired me to write my thesis on the subject.

AURAI SWIMWEAR is somehow my next step, a platform to put the theory into practice, to challenge myself and hopefully to challenge other businesses to view fashion (especially the design process) in a more cohesive and conscious way.


How did you become involved in using sustainable fabrics?

Materials are a key element to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry, and I dedicate a lot of my time to research new developments and to keep me updated on new technologies being released. Both fabrics I use in AURAI’s collections are relatively new developments by two large textile companies; one in Italy and the other one in Brazil. I’m proud to be a pioneer and to support their effort to create better products.

Do you have a go-to source for inspiration?

My sources change according to my inspiration for the season, but I always go back to art for colours, to architecture for lines, to history for textures — And I love Pinterest. I don’t actively use it as a mood board but I love researching imagery there.

How do you want women to feel when wearing your swimwear?

Confidence. There is so much pressure on how women should look like nowadays that it made swimwear a very sensitive subject, even for younger girls. Summer is such an amazing part of the year that the only thing we should be worried about is enjoying ourselves and making the most of it.

Tell us more about the One Of Us The Project x AURAI SWIM collaboration.

One of Us is a special part of AURAI’s SS18/19 collection. Most AURAI SWIM SS18/19 pieces will be mastectomy-friendly, and part of the profit will be donated to Paddle for Hope, Karin’s charity which is focused on raising funds for cancer rehabilitation.

We are running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to cover the extra costs for converting the styles into mastectomy-friendly designs. This is not a charity, as the pledges are essentially pre-orders (with 40% discount!) for our next collection. $70 will buy you a set (top+ bottom) or a one-piece of your choice once the collection is launched.

The One of Us x AURAI SWIMWEAR Kickstarter campaign is live now. Keep an eye out for the exciting AURAI SWIMWEAR debut appearance at NZ Fashion Week this year.

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