Women + Waves x H&M

H&M collaborates with all-female surf society Women + Waves for a sustainable swimwear collection. 

It’s early morning in Torö, a 2-kilometre-long stone beach just south of Stockholm. The weather is anything but tropical with a chilly north-western wind — it's not too bad. The plan had been to shoot our first surf collaboration in Cornwall, England, where Women + Waves was born, but with our changing world that was no longer possible. Perhaps the winds would have felt just as crisp in the in UK?

We spoke with Women + Waves' founder, Rachel Murphy, to find out more about her story. The all-female surf society started in 2017 when Rachel decided that there weren't enough girls in her local line-up. (For those not yet fluent in surf lingo, the line-up is the queue area where surfers wait to catch a wave.)

“I wanted to create a space where girls could feel confident in their own skin amongst their very own surf community,” says Rachel. This longing became the Women + Waves Surf Society: a community of women of all ages and abilities, who are passionate about surfing and protecting the ocean.

Rachel was born in Cornwall and grew up close to the sea, where the beach was her playground. It was in her teens that she found her calling.

“When I was 16, my nan handed me a newspaper clipping that was advertising lifeguard courses and I was just the age where I could take part. At the time, I was struggling in school, so I decided to do this course, which meant I had to live in an old broken-down static caravan for the week of the course, in a small Cornish surf town. I loved the course so much: waking up by the beach, getting in the sea every day and experiencing a new way of life. Pretty much from then on things changed and I was hooked on this lifestyle.”

Rachel still lives in Cornwall, where she thinks the community is so strong it becomes a family. “It's great to live in an environment where everyone has their passions aligned, which is the surfing and the sea.”

As one of six core values, Women + Waves cares about the planet. Besides surf lessons, coaching, trips and community projects, they also arrange beach clean-ups and inspire other surfers to keep the ocean clean and safe. “As surfers, I feel we are the voices of the ocean, and we need to protect the ocean. Nobody wants to be surfing in sewage or seeing our beloved surf breaks ruined by climate change." Therefore, it was a natural choice to create a full surf-wardrobe made from sustainably sourced materials, with smart design.

The collection is equal parts surf-ready and style-ready: it has swimwear, one-pieces, rash guards and wetsuits. For hanging out on the beach, the collection has a hoodie, a T-shirt and accessories. Since it's a surf collaboration, we're extra excited about the wetsuit that's partly made from Yulex®: a high-quality natural rubber alternative for wetsuits.

“It's a dream come true for us to be able to wear sustainably sourced swimwear that supports our ethos,” says Rachel. "We've worked together (with the H&M team) to create the perfect fits — altering hemlines, moving seam placements and changing colours. Every detail has been thought of. Even every zip has been saltwater tested!”

The colour palette of muted greens, neon yellow and black is bold and confidence-building, just like the women who are part of the sisterhood of surfing. “Seeing how many women's lives have changed for the better; whether it’s about confidence levels, lifestyle or mental health; feels like the biggest reward of all.” 

 Whether surfing the chilly waters of Sweden or the breaks of California, as long as there are waves and good vibes, we’re sure you’ll have a good time.

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