Lia and Yuli are the two women behind Indonesian swimwear label Isa Boulder — a label they decided to create to spotlight local craftsmanship and pursue a love of intricate swimwear that can exist in more spaces than the beach and pool. From Bali, they use recycled Italian lycra to produce pieces that can be customised in fabric, colour and sizing until you find your dream suit. So nice!
Isa Boulder caught our attention when we noticed Oyster collaborator and NYC cool girl Shayna Arnold working on the styling for the newest collection. Titled ‘By Night’, they’ve created luxurious bikinis and detailed full bodies that are almost too good to get wet. With magic draping, uniquely puffed straps and edges, lovely gathered moments and a palette that sways from lime to soil, milk to grape, and through matte and shiny, the new Isa Boulder collection is so carefully and cleverly sexy, arty and beautiful. Of course, we couldn’t let them off without filling out our Collection Survey.
Names: Lia + Yuli
Starsigns: Gemini + Virgo
Where are you from and where do you live now?
Both of us are from different parts of Indonesia but we live in Bali because we love the peacefulness and pace it offers.
Any personal beliefs or values that are meaningful to your work?
Lia: It might be surprising to know that the two women behind this swimwear line have never worn a bikini in public (for very different reasons). For my partner, she is actually a devoted Muslim woman who wears a jilbab in public. In Indonesia, where our company is based, the majority of religious women are expected to dress modestly. However, she is personally one of the most open-minded and modern person I’ve ever met. She actually wears some of the bikini tops we scrapped off the collection in private, not wanting to waste those samples, as she really loves the cut (and we spent so much time working on them). In the comforts of her home, she roams about in our creation which she is very proud of. And for myself, it’s just really shallow reasons — skin problems.
Yuli: Yet the common thread we have is that we love the idea of liberating other women, in essence, dressing other people who have more fun in life than us. There is a satisfaction in being able to live vicariously through them. As women, we all lead different lives according to our choices, but at the end of the day, it’s so important that it’s our choice and not imposed on us. Plenty of pious women in Indonesia choose not to wear a jilbab, but wearing one is still my choice, not forced upon me. We love our jobs and its creative problem solving… we just want to make the most beautiful swimwear possible and we’re on it like a couple of lab researchers.
And what were you doing, learning or practicing before you started working on your line?
Lia: I was working in my brother’s architecture company for a few years after graduating from fashion design. It has actually given me new perspectives on construction and the idea that nothing is impossible — if you could build a bridge, making breasts look good is easy.
Yuli: After working for an expat-owned company for a long time, I wasn’t happy with the trajectory of my work life… I also felt it was time people did not take advantage of the skillset of our local workers, and not really giving them a chance to grow within the company. So I convinced Lia that we should open a company where we could create a working environment that empowers and value our local talents.
Is it just me, or has this ‘By Night’ collection marked a bit of a shift in aesthetic? It feels a little more intimate, experimental, and mature… maybe even more sexy!
‘Sexy’ is such a sexy word! I think working with the right collaborators is so important to get our ideas across and for this collection, we had worked with the talented Shayna Arnold who has such an innate sense of style. It is challenging to style bikini and she did a really good job understanding what we wanted to highlight with the swimwear pieces through other means (model choice, mood, etc.).
Who or what were your biggest inspirations for ‘By Night’?
In tropical countries where access to the beach can be really convenient, we love the idea that women here could put pants/skirt over the swimsuit after a swim and popping into a restaurant. We wanted to make swimwear that wasn’t restricted to the beach and could easily transition into a more ‘night’ look — even though the fabric might seem too precious to get wet in! The fabric that we’d been experimenting on also drapes well and looks luxurious when ruched. So one of the biggest inspirations was through working with the fabric itself and finding ways to accentuate its silk-like qualities.
How do you hope people feel when they wear it?
They’re in on a secret.
And what’s your favourite piece?!
We love the one where Shayna ingeniously styled the Chandler one-piece with the Phoebe top. I swear it wasn’t meant to be a Friends reference. Not even sure how that happened.
If you could describe the collection in five words?
I live for the sea?
If the collection was a colour: Honey
If it was a mood: Mellow
If it was an animal: Milksnake
If it was a language: Native tongue
If it was a place: Home
If it was a time: Dawn
If it was a song: HNNY, Cheer Up My Brother
If it was a season: Autumn
If it was a food: Baked beans
If it was a famous person: Angela Dimayuga
If it was a YouTube video: (for girls who love to nerd out)
If it was a smell: Your favourite person
If it was a texture: Creamy
If it was a film: Dimensions of Dialogue, Jan Svankmajer
If it was a quote: “Nothing wrong with looking like a sausage.” — Yuli
Finally: when is it available to shop?
We’re in talks with some potential buyers *fingers crossed*, so hopefully at your favourite stores soon.. (including our website, of course!)
Images: Courtesy Isa Boulder