Plastocene Swimwear Line is a line of women’s swimsuits that intends to intervene in the problematic dimensions of the clothing and fashion swimsuit industry on multiple levels. The pieces use the body as a billboard for the destructive activities we participate in that are exacerbating exploitation of the planet and of labor—the fast fashion and textile industry being major culprits alongside extraction industries and single-use plastic producers and consumers. Photos of ocean trash and pollution strategically grace one-piece swimsuits so the image itself becomes the design element. Made with Repreve swimwear fabric (which is made using recycled plastic bottles) and locally printed and fabricated, the suits are a tiny affront to industry practices and a sort of call to action.
Intervening in this dimension of luxury and fashion feels the appropriate way to force a conversation. Plastocene had a soft launch during the Aspens Ideas Conference in Miami Beach in May 2022, with a Trashion Show where models were adorned with trash-sessories also designed by Despain to bring the issue front and center in a tongue-and-cheek, semi-satirical way. The suits were also available at a pop-up shop at the convention, where respected attendees convened to discuss the many facets of the climate crisis.
Half of all plastic produced is single use.
In the future, offering the suits for sale mixed in with other luxury goods at a beach hotel lobby store or high-end swimsuit retailer will be a fitting place for them to meet end users. Their commentary can then continue “in the wild” as as people wear them to chic pool parties and resorts or visits to the beach. Enacting an eco-tax of sorts while gently critiquing green capitalism, net proceeds will be donated to local marine conservation non-profits.
"I’m not sure I believe in any consumer product, especially clothing, being sustainable and although they are made from fabric created from recycled bottles I can not pretend that these suits are really any different. But I think the more we are honest with ourselves about how our participation in the constant growth model and limitless production impacts the planet, the more centered the conversation becomes. If it’s literally visualized on our bodies, maybe even more so. At this point it’s all trash, whether it’s in its past, present, future or even recycled state."