On some level, the goal of redesigning swimwear, so that it makes just as much sense on the beach as it does anywhere else in public, can seem like a strange goal. Why would anyone want to look like they are dressed for the beach when they are out on the town — and conversely, why would anyone want beach clothes that weren't ... well, beach-centric?
But tastes evolve. A decade ago, yoga pants were something one was likely to see mostly at the gym. Today, one can spend over $100 buying business casual yoga pants — though they are much more likely to be called leggings or "all-day" pants.
In light of that, the starting goal of Onia's original co-founders is, perhaps, a bit less unusual. Carl Cunow and Nathan Romano saw what they called a "void in the market," in that there really wasn't a lot out there for shoppers who were looking for all-day walking shorts, that could double as a pair of swim trunks or gym shorts.
The goal, according, to Romano was to basically build the ultimate utility player in men’s activewear when it launched five years ago — a goal that was a bit more complicated to live up to than one might assume.
"We developed innovative fits and styles from fabrics sourced from top mills from around the world that appealed to the customer who wanted quality construction and attention to detail in their wardrobes," Romano told Fortune. "This is how we started Onia and, since our launch, we have fully developed into a men’s and women’s swim and ready-to-wear brand, and all of our products have been launched based on the same core philosophy that we started with — fit, fabric and function."
Onia, however, has come a long way from their beachwear to daywear line for men. The brand now includes a full line of women's swimwear (which looks mostly like swimwear and, thus, does not quite do what the menswear line does) as well as shoes, accessories, shirts, dresses, pants — Onia started in swim but has since pushed out into the deeper waters of the apparel game.
Cunow now told Fortune that though their purview in fashion in now bigger, they've kept their focus trained well. Trends, they noted, and trying to chase down customers season after season isn't their line. They stay aware of trends in the market, but they don't try to design around them or keep up with the fast fashion ethos. Onia can't productively take on the mass market when it comes to fast turnaround — wear-it-and-toss-it swimwear or apparel. It's not what their brand was designed to deliver — and ultimately, they can't satisfy their customers that way.
"We're a brand that provides pieces that can be worn season in and season out as staples — we care about trends, but we care a lot more about timeless design. I think there is a place for fast fashion, but that is not our customer," Cunow said.
As the brand continues to pick up social media followers (and celebrity brand ambassadors), Onia is now considering how to find even more of their customers going forward, which means a first-ever foray into physical retail. Cunow has confirmed that the brand has been investigating opening pop-up stores for some timea and will be cutting the ribbon at its first ever pop-up on Mulberry St. in New York. That effort to find more physical locations is an ongoing process.
The brand will also look to bulk up its direct-to-consumer business — as it has seen big jumps in its eCommerce offering. Cunow noted the Onia site has seen 100 percent growth in Q1 of 2018 alone, which means it is clearly an area ripe for development and growth.
He said, "Of course, we will continue to organically add in more categories and product for our customers."