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Diving in: Mazu Resortwear founder Adam Raby on turning plastic bottles into swimwear

Hong Kong-based swimwear brand Mazu Resortwear has created a pair of trunks made from 12 salvaged plastic bottles. Founder and CEO Adam Raby explains why his mission to help the oceans is as personal as it is professional

Plastic bottles rarely look good in the ocean. That is something that Hong Kong-based Mazu Resortwear is hoping to change with its new line of swimwear, which is made from salvaged plastic bottles. Adam Raby, the founder and CEO of the luxury swimwear brand, explains to Asia-Pacific Boating that his latest collection of shorts are made out of PET, a form of polyester that can be extracted from 90% recycled plastics. Every pair of shorts made from PET uses the equivalent of 12 plastic bottles – waste that could easily have ended up in the ocean.

“This material and our new message of sustainability have been five or six years in the making,” admits Raby, who launched the brand in 2014. “Sustainability and the ocean have always been things I’ve been super passionate about. It’s so hard nowadays, particularly in Hong Kong, to be plastic-free. We all go through much plastic, it’s shameful.”

Mazu Resortwear takes its name from the Chinese goddess of the sea – a nod to Hong Kong’s rich maritime history and Raby’s Chinese ancestry, as well as an ode to his lifelong affinity with the ocean. Mazu’s distinctive and playful prints celebrate local marine heritage: motifs range from the emblematic pink dolphin (Raby’s self-professed spirit animal) to sampans and junks.

Raby says his love of the ocean is tied to his boating background – his grandfather was in the Navy, and his father is an avid sailor and longstanding member of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. “My dad had a small Sonata racing boat, and when he retired, he bought a 40-ft J/Boat,” Raby explains. “I’ve recently started researching some hybrid boats. One day I’d love to get a small eco-friendly boat – something you can take out to Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung for a day, or even overnight.”

Raby has harboured a vision of using recycled plastic in his designs ever since launching the company in 2014, but struggled to source a recycled material that met all his needs.

“Recycled swimwear wasn’t much of a thing when I started,” he says. “I was hunting fabrics, getting swatches, and learning about them. Every fabric is made up of different percentages of things; it could be cotton, a cotton and silk-blend – every fabric has a different set of qualities. Some feel softer, but hold more water so take longer to dry. Some types of polyester feel quite cheap – the recycled fabric I was finding just wasn’t good quality.”

Technological advances in recycling, as well as growing economic viability in using recycled materials, mean that Raby’s hunt for the perfect, planet-friendly polyester eventually came to an end.

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