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In Conversation With Lindsey Holland, Founder Of Lifestyle Brand The Longing, On Swimwear, Surfing And Embracing New Activities

Ahead of the launch of Whistles x The Longing swimwear, we caught up with the lifestyle brand’s founder Lindsey Holland on creating the collection, the importance of supportive, long-lasting swimwear, surfing and how to embrace new activities without fear and enjoy the process.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into content creation…

I was a physiotherapist for a long time, and that’s what I studied. Alongside my degree, I needed a creative outlet as everything I was learning was science-led. I started a fashion blog about 13 years ago now. It was always a hobby alongside my career as a physio, but then along came Instagram, which catapulted things forward. About five years ago, I handed in my notice with the NHS. I decided to take a month off and decompress; the more I could put work into the fashion side of things, the more I got back. I never actually went back to physio because everything got so busy. I’ve had the most amazing opportunities within the fashion industry and the social side of everything, so I do this full-time. Eventually, I started The Longing, my lifestyle brand, and a surf and wellness retreat called Marnie Rays, which began in June. It’s given me the freedom to go after everything that makes me happy.

Talk us through your style; how would you describe it?

Like everybody’s, it evolved. I used to have quite a Scandi-inspired black-and-white minimalist wardrobe. I found it easy to dress that way as I didn’t have to put much thought into it, yet I always felt elevated. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised there’s so much joy in putting more experimental outfits together and wearing colours and prints. My style is also quite sporty, and I prefer casual to formal dressing. It’s all about looking at pieces and how they make me feel. I like oversized silhouettes and things you can throw on but still feel put together.

‘Content creation has allowed me to go after everything that makes me happy.’

Tell us about The Longing; how did it start? What ignited the idea?

I’ve always wanted to build a business. I watched my dad run his business over the last 40 years, and I’ve always admired his work. It’s always been with me. I only knew where to start once I met my business partner, who has been a fantastic support. He’s very business minded. It came from me wanting to create an organic set of cool, design-led towels for people without having to pay lots for them. Thinking about launching something in the fashion space was intimidating, so I wanted to explore the lifestyle route and create something people need that can bring joy at home or away. It took lots of research and factory visits, and it’s been a steep learning curve. Yet it’s been so rewarding.

We’ve collaborated with you on a swimwear capsule for summer 23. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this? What did you want to bring to the collection?

Designing this collection with Whistles has been a true career highlight, and we have created something I would want to wear myself every single time I’m in or by the water. The ocean and surfing greatly influenced all the designs; they’re crucial to my life and bring me joy. We have made something for women to feel good in that is also practical, and I loved being in the front row throughout the process. I got really creative, and we worked closely with a fit model, asking many questions about each piece’s fit and shape. It was interesting to get to the bottom of how women feel in the collection. The colour palette complements the towels yet feels earthy and tonal, reminding me of nature, and the prints are reminiscent of waves and the movement of the sea.

‘As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised there’s so much joy in putting experimental outfits together and wearing colours and prints.’

How did you find the collaborative design process? Did you feel there was a natural affinity between Whistles and The Longing?

I haven’t enjoyed collaboration as much as this in my career. It’s made me want to be a buyer; it’s made me want to be a designer; it’s made me want to do everything because I’ve had a front-row seat to every single part of the process. We went to the factory, and I was involved in choosing the fabrics, the colours, the texture, the thickness, and everything. I could work on this full-time forever. Working with a team of experts who have done this day in and out for years has been amazing, and I loved having their guidance. Whistles felt like such a natural, organic fit for me.

Favourite pieces from the collection?

The Ruched Bikini in rust is my favourite, it’s just so amazing on.

What do you love about swimwear? What are the challenges when it comes to designing it?

Different shapes need different things, so that’s always a challenge. I wanted to focus on fit and create something for people to feel supported and comfortable in. I’m also a keen swimmer and surfer, so I wanted to create pieces people can enjoy activities in, as well as modern and unique designs.

How important is mindful consumption to you? Any advice for readers?

It’s essential to me, and The Longing foundations are built on being as responsible and ethical as possible. The older I get, the more I understand that investing in items more thoughtfully means they can last a lifetime, which immediately lowers your consumption. It’s worth looking into a brand’s materials and background before buying and thinking about what suits you and your life at the time.

You’re also a keen surfer and spent time living in Portugal. What do you love most about being by the sea? How does it make you feel?

It’s the most fantastic form of therapy I’ve ever had. When I’m surfing, I can’t think of anything but being on my board and in the water, looking for the next wave. It offers this special break from your usual thoughts and worries. That’s what I’ve fallen in love with the most. Then, of course, there’s the adrenaline that comes with standing up on a wave and riding it. That feels amazing.

Have you always been into surfing, or did you learn later?

It’s only been around two years. I was going through a weird time. I felt I’d lost direction and felt sad more than usual, so I needed to find a way back to myself. I booked a solo trip and looked into which water-based activities I could do in a group setting, so I booked a surf retreat. I made amazing friends with whom I’m still friends now, and I fell in love with surfing.

‘Designing this collection with Whistles has been a true career highlight, and we have created something I would want to wear myself every single time I’m in or by the water.’

Is surfing as technical as they say?

It can be, but there’s so much joy in learning and the process itself. Just being in the water is a gift in itself; it’s a unique, restorative experience.

Tell us about Marnie Rays. What inspired you to create this retreat for other people and why?

The joy that surfing brought to my life inspired me, and I wanted to create something to give that feeling to others. I also wanted to do it so you can still have privacy in your rooms and bathrooms, offering something more premium. We aimed to create a supportive environment for people to come and do things for the first time, whether they surf or not, where they can create new memories and connections. We’ve got yoga and sourced guest chefs from London and Portugal to create a unique experience. It’s situated in the middle of a gorgeous National Park, and we’ve got an animal farm on site to have fresh produce for the chefs.

And how did you find the right team of people to complete the experience?

That took me a long time because I wanted to meet everybody to ensure everybody was warm and excited for the right reasons. We found Lucy Sesto, who’s the body coach and yoga teacher. She’s an ex-gymnast, and she is amazing, with lovely, calming energy. We also have Chelen Freeman, more focused on yoga and meditation, to switch things up.

What would be your advice to people who are brand new to surfing, swimming or yoga activities?

Try and leave your fear at the door. The process can be the best part; you don’t need to be good at everything – try to enjoy it. We don’t all take up water sports to become exceptional at it. You’ll fall off your board many times but embrace it. Find joy in the process.

And where is on your agenda for future travel?

I want to go to Biarritz in the South of France because the surf is amazing and everybody says how beautiful it is. I also have a tradition of going to New York with my friends each year and exploring new areas, which I always look forward to.

‘When surfing, I can’t think of anything but being on my board and in the water, looking for the next wave. It offers this special break from your usual thoughts and worries.’

Whistles x The Longing curates modern swimwear to instil wearers with confidence, wherever the summer may take them. Each piece has been thoughtfully designed in enduring fabrics, with a renewed focus on fit and how swimwear can make us feel.

To shop the collection ahead of everyone else, sign up for an exclusive 24-hour preview.

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