On the Rise: Vancouver’s Eco-Friendly Ocin Is Making Waves

The ocean flows through designer Courtney Chew's veins—metaphorically, anyway.

The ocean flows through designer Courtney Chew’s veins—metaphorically, anyway.

Local designer Courtney Chew was raised by a fashion designer (her mom!), so the craft has always been in her blood. Also flowing through the 29-year-old’s veins? The ocean—metaphorically, anyway. “I was a swimmer; I grew up in the water,” she says, “so I have this connection with it.”

That relationship, combined with a passion for the environment and a lack of swimwear options that suited her minimalist taste, led to the creation of Ocin. Pronounced like “ocean,” the eco-conscious line of men’s and women’s swimwear is ethically crafted from fabrics composed of recycled plastics. The pieces—high-neck halter tops, side-panel one-pieces and mesh-compression board shorts, for example, in neutral shades like black and olive—are sharp and decidedly untrendy, designed to be mixed and matched and worn for years to come.

Even the size labelling is an ode to the ocean, with Chew ditching the traditional XS-to-XL structure in favour of the names of bodies of water in B.C. (Teslin, Como and so on), a move that also helps wearers focus more on how they feel in the garments than what’s written on the tag. A portion of Ocin’s proceeds go to ocean-conservation efforts, too, generating what Chew hopes will be a ripple effect of more people—and brands—giving back to Mother Earth.

“We’re not perfect,” says Chew, “but we’re totally committed to evolving and innovating and getting better as we grow.”

Ocin Compression Short in Black, $135. (Photo: Alan Chan)
Ocin Classic Top in Sunset, $129, and Hi Waisted Bottom in Black, $115. (Photo: Alan Chan)
Ocin Halter Top in Olivine, $129, and Classic Bottom in Sunset, $115. (Photo: Alan Chan)
Ocin Snap Short in Stone, $135. (Photo: Alan Chan)