Kat Furey: swimwear designer


Kat Furey is changing the way we think about our swimwear. Her brand PALM not only creates on-trend, figure-flattering designs, but each tempting design is made with sustainably sourced fabrics. For Furey, who travels between Australia and Bali, PALM is all about influencing her customers to make more considered choices when it comes to shopping for swimwear. We spoke to her recently about the challenges of fast fashion, her recipe for tropical beauty and where to go for the best massage in Bali.

TM: How would you describe your overall style?
“It’s pared-back, modern and effortless. I love to invest in well-made core garments as well as unique, eclectic pieces, such as a handmade embroidered bag, a statement print jacket or vintage jewellery. These pieces appeal to me because I can keep them long term, updating them over time, adding personality to an outfit and mixing and matching them for different occasions. Comfort and fabrication are also very important. I prefer not to wear clothing that doesn’t fit well, is made from poor materials or is too restrictive. I have always loved thoughtfully designed garments constructed in beautiful fabrics.”

How did PALM Swimwear come about? Can you tell us about the sustainable element of the brand?
“My experiences studying and working in fashion meant that I had always been involved in design, concept creation, styling and marketing. My partner Ben and I wanted to create a brand that produced classic, modern pieces yet also reflected the easygoing lifestyle of Australian beach culture. At the same time, we wanted the brand to be as ethical and sustainable as possible. We are fully aware of the damaging impact that the fashion and textiles industry have on the environment. Part of the problem is consumer demand for low-price, low-quality garments that are usually made in high quantities for single or limited use. With this in mind, we wanted to take a ‘slower’ approach to fashion by making smaller production runs, expanding into made-to-order collections and designing well-made swimsuits using high quality, sustainably sourced materials. The nylon used in our swimsuits is either regenerated from post-consumer waste and fishing nets or biodegradable, which decomposes naturally once its life cycle has ended. We aim to influence our customers to make more creative and considered choices.”

Is this your first brand as a designer?
“Yes. I had previously studied fashion design, however it wasn’t until I teamed up with my fiancé, Ben, that we put our minds together and created PALM. Alongside the brand, I am also a bioscience student working towards my degree, and I am integrating what I learn about the environment and sustainability into the brand and my future designs. This is a key focus for us going forward.”

Who is the PALM customer?
“The PALM woman is modern, independent, eco-conscious and has her own individual sense of style. She has a strong appreciation for well-made clothes, original design and beautiful fabrication. What’s been amazing is that, over the past year or so, an increasing number of people are engaging with the unique nature of our designs and fabrics, and there is growing interest in how our swimsuits are made, who is making them and what materials they are made from. It’s exciting to see people exercise a more active role in sustainable fashion.”

How does it work commuting between Bali and Australia?
“It’s been a privilege being able to do so! It’s taken us many years to develop the close relationships we have in Bali, and we have been very hands-on in ensuring the highest standards of quality and ethical manufacturing practices. We recently set up our studio space and have a fantastic team. Having spent a lot of time in Bali, we are now hoping to spend more time in Australia. We will, of course, return regularly to work with our team here and enjoy the amazing people, great food and laidback lifestyle.”

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Is there a Bali beauty look you’ve noticed?
“Wild, salty hair, a bronzed complexion and an effortless, natural look is really embraced here. Mostly a little mascara, tinted sun cream, highlighter and possibly a red lip in the evening. It’s usually too hot and humid to wear heavy makeup or foundation, so the emphasis becomes more about dewy, sun-kissed skin. Oh, and manicured nails. Everyone here has great nails.”

Have you picked up any local remedies in Bali?
“I drink jamu shots every day, a traditional Indonesian medicine that contains the base ingredients of turmeric, ginger, lime, tamarind and other herbs. Each component has great health benefits to aid digestion, reduce inflammation and improve your complexion. I also buy aloe vera leaves from the local supermarket, which I use as after-sun care and for treating eczema that I get from time to time.”

What’s your favourite spa or hotel in Bali? Do you get treatments?
“Ben and I get massages from a local spot called Dream Spa. It’s nothing luxurious and is very basic but we are yet to find a place that does them better (and stronger!). I also regularly go to Think Pink for nails, Bronz for waxing, Jet Black Ginger or Rob Peetoom for hair and Amo Spa or Aesthetic Day Spa for facials. For a relaxing day out or a little getaway we like to stay at the Planta Hotel in Canggu.”

What’s on high rotation when it comes to your beauty routine?
“I love using Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream. It’s super light and contains SPF30. I’ll mix in a little of my foundation if I need extra coverage. I am also obsessed with Liquid Lumiere in Brilliance by Chantecaille. People always comment on my skin when I wear it. Lastly, I never leave the house without groomed eyebrows. I use Hourglass Arch and By Terry Brow Mascara.”

And your skin care routine?
“Every morning and evening I use Blue Moon Balm from Sunday Riley to cleanse my face, followed by 111 Skin Aqua Booster. The cleansing balm is very hydrating and seems to be one of very few that controls my eczema. I use Mecca Cosmetica To Save Superscreen 50+ during the day and African Botanicals Intensive Recovery Oil at night.”

What hair care do you use? And do you have a signature hairstyle?
“My hair has a natural wave (or more like frizz) that sometimes gets very dry and brittle. Every few weeks I treat my hair to a coconut or olive oil massage. I also try to use organic, natural-based treatments like Grown Alchemist Smoothing Hair Treatment.”

What’s your one desert island beauty product?
“Sunscreen of course! When I was younger, I used to fry my skin. I’m definitely starting to see the consequences of that.”

What’s your biggest beauty regret?
“Funnily enough I was just looking back at old photos from the #10yearchallenge. I wore chunky false eyelashes with super orange foundation. What was I thinking?!”

Interview by Emily Deacon
Photography by Eddie New
Makeup by Ellie Shkurka
Styling by Maya Dals
January 2019


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