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The One-Piece Boutique: Sustainable Swimwear with a Story

CEO Tinh Phung
Ellen Downes is on a mission to find the perfect bathing suits. She scours vintage and second-hand shops in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, explores the used market on Dong Tac Street, and meticulously searches...

Ellen Downes is on a mission to find the perfect bathing suits. She scours vintage and second-hand shops in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, explores the used market on Dong Tac Street, and meticulously searches racks of clothes in various shops around the city. Her quest goes beyond personal style; she's building a unique one-piece bathing suit business called the One-Piece Boutique.

Launching on September 6, the One-Piece Boutique is an online shop that offers vintage swimsuits to customers in Hanoi. Downes handpicks each suit, ensuring they are affordable, high quality, and an eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion. From swim team throwbacks to old-fashioned gems, every suit has a story to tell.

One-Piece Boutique Caption: Ellen Downes, the founder of One-Piece Boutique, curating the collection of vintage swimsuits.

While brands like Zara and H&M proudly display their garment's origin, second-hand clothes keep their secrets hidden. Each discovery Downes makes in the small, unassuming shops of Hanoi brings forth unanswerable questions about the swimsuits' origins and previous lives. Many of these suits carry tags from countries like France or Germany, revealing the hidden circularity of the international exchange of garments.

Vietnam is a powerhouse in the textile industry, producing clothes for renowned brands like Lululemon, Nike, and Patagonia. However, its second-hand clothing market reveals a different side of the global fashion trade. These clothes often come from countries like Cambodia, donated by Scandinavians via international organizations. Entrepreneurs in Vietnam purchase these cast-offs, selling them within the region and occasionally catching the eye of Downes, who introduces them to style-conscious locals and expats.

Vintage Swimsuits Caption: A selection of vintage swimsuits available at the One-Piece Boutique.

Downes recognizes the toll that the fast fashion industry takes on the environment and workers' rights. That's why she donates 20% of her profits to Fashion Revolution Vietnam, an organization that advocates for change in the fashion industry and raises awareness about workers' rights. By offering affordable swimsuits that have a smaller environmental footprint, the One-Piece Boutique aims to challenge the dominance of fast fashion and promote a more sustainable approach.

Each suit in the collection will be priced between VND250,000 and VND400,000, making them accessible to a wide range of customers. Downes hopes that through the One-Piece Boutique, people will fall in love with vintage swimwear and embrace the idea of conscious fashion choices.

"I'm super involved in selecting the collection right now, and it's going to be really nice for other people to fall in love with them," says Downes.

The One-Piece Boutique is not just about swimwear; it's about embracing the stories and sustainability behind each piece. Join Ellen Downes and explore a world of unique swimsuits with a purpose.

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