Seven Questions: Onia

[ed note: I decided to launch a new interview feature, in addition to the Label Spotlight and Happenings posts, because it felt like the site was lacking a simple, straight-forward Q&A. So, with that said, welcome to the first edition of Seven Questions.]


There are certain articles of clothing that no one can ever seem to get just right. They’re the pieces that compel us to exasperatedly exclaim (usually while in a dressing room somewhere), “why can’t someone make a decent ______ for once!” They’re the garments that drive us to message boards and forums, seeking out advice and recommendations. They’re the ones that we buy anyway, knowing they’re not ideal, but hoping we can still live with (which we then almost always can’t). For me, the king of those items is – and has been – the swimsuit. Either they’re too baggy, or too tight, too long, too short, too sporty, too sloppy – there’s always something standing in the way of their being perfect. Fortunately, it’s looking like I won’t be having that problem anymore, thanks to New York’s Onia.

Taking a tailored approach to swimwear, the label makes trunks and board shorts for the sartorially devout; beachwear for guys who like to dress well. What’s even better, is that on top of being great looking, they’re also incredibly well-made, with every pair crafted in NYC’s Garment District from top-notch Japanese and European fabrics. Talk about a win-win. Founder Carl Cunow recently took some time out to answer a few questions through email. Here’s what he had to say.

CWAC: How’d you get started / what’s your experience?
CC: I worked for 5 years at Steven Alan in production doing the fabric buying, sample making, working with factories on both the men’s and women’s line and working with Steven in producing the line. I come from a fabric background and at Steven Alan most of the piece goods we used in the collection were from Japan, which allowed me to really appreciate the quality of high end textiles.

Why swimwear?
Simply because nobody was doing it well and I thought there was a huge void at our price point for something well made, yet stylish and basic. I also could not find anything that I wanted to wear, at any price point pretty much.

What kind of materials do you use? Where do you get them?
I source my fabrics from Japan, Korea, England and Spain. For most of our collection, I use a cotton/nylon blend that is 60% cotton and 40% nylon, very unique to the swimwear market. While the fabric is soft enough to act as a walking short, the nylon yarn in the fabric allows the shorts to quickly dry, yet be comfortable at the same time.

What has your experience manufacturing in the US been like / why did you decide to make your line here?
I decided to start producing my line in the USA, specifically in NYC’s garment district, because of all my experience working with domestic factories when I was at Steven Alan. My experience has been great producing here, the lead-times are great and I can be very hands-on with everything I develop and produce.

What are your goals for the brand / where do you want to take it?
I want to expand very slowly into other areas, but for the most part stay in the beachwear category. I want Onia to be known as the one brand to outfit a guy to go to the beach, whether it’s swim trunks, flip flops, beach towels or beach totes. We want to keep focusing on our key styles and core product for the time being as to not lose focus on what we do best.

Any upcoming projects you want to share?
We just released a line of shorts for Base in Miami Beach which has 3 locations, all using Japanese piece goods, with an exclusive red liner, available only by phone order or walk in at Base Miami locations. This swim trunk was limited to 48 pieces, our first collaboration!

What would you say to someone who’s still on the fence about buying a pair of Onia trunks?
Someone who is still on the fence? Buy one and try it on. Wear it to the beach, to the pool, to a dinner party. The suit will not only hold up longer than any other suit, but you can use it as a regular pair of shorts as well, they are so plain and simple they work for virtually anything you can be doing. Also, go to one of our retailers and check out the quality of the garments, the detailed trim, the cotton/nylon fabrics we use.

For price and purchase info, visit Onia.

  • carlos

    Nice…but a bit pricey.