Inspired by the comfort and ease of beach living, twins Mike and Alex Faherty created their own label. Faherty clothing combines the comfort of surf gear and swimwear with the quality of luxury product—all within an eco-friendly ethos. We talked to Mike about the inspiration behind the brand and the clothes-making process.
Twins Alex and Mike Faherty.
Shopbop: How did you get your start in fashion design?
Mike Faherty: I’ve always loved fashion. My mom laughs all the time about how I started dressing her when I was a kid. She would come downstairs, and I’d tell her to go back upstairs to change if I didn’t like the outfit. My dad was a big clothes guy who always had his suits custom-made, so I learned to appreciate the art and feel of fine clothing from him. In high school, I enrolled in art classes and realized that fashion design blended my love of textiles, fabrics, and patterns, as well as the act of creating something with my hands. I actually wrote my college entrance essay on this brand. I went to Washington University in St. Louis, where I studied fashion design and played basketball for four years.
SB: What is it like working with your twin brother?
MF: It’s the best. It sounds cliché to say, but I couldn’t have done it without him. He’s my best friend, business partner, wise confidant, surf buddy, etc. He’s an Excel spreadsheet guru, which lets me mainly focus on design. We pull a lot of long nights and early mornings, and being able to have him by my side makes it a whole lot more fun.
SB: When did you first come up with the idea to start a beach lifestyle brand?
MF: In high school, our family moved from a small beach town in New Jersey, where we lived in board shorts, to New York City, where we were exposed to the world of fine clothing. We wanted to spend our days in laid-back clothes, but the commodity board shorts, rough tees, and boxy button-downs weren’t cutting it from a quality perspective. I also have four older sisters who were a big inspiration for me and had similar issues. When I couldn’t find a brand that fit my lifestyle and was also super high quality, I realized I would have to start my own.
The men's Saranac shirt makes the perfect swimsuit cover-up.
SB: Many of Faherty’s swimsuits and surfwear are made from recycled materials. In what other ways does the brand maintain its focus on eco-friendly apparel?
MF: Having an eco-conscious ethos while designing premium clothing is really important to me. I’ve seen firsthand how wasteful the apparel world can be, so we’re trying to take a different route. Almost all of our cottons are organic, which prevents pesticides and toxins from entering our rivers. We use a lot of authentic natural dyes like true indigo, and our swimwear is made primarily from recycled fabric from repurposed plastic bottles. It’s an amazing process where we actually melt down plastic bottles into their original form and re-spin the yarn very finely. Producing our recycled fabric uses 90% less water and two-thirds less energy than new fabric. And most importantly, the fabric feels amazing.
SB: Which piece from your latest collection do you believe every woman should pack for her summer vacation?
MF: The Airline Day Pants, hands down. They have been some of our bestsellers. Women love them because they’re as comfy as sweatpants, but you can wear them anywhere—to the beach, out to dinner, after work, etc. They’re made with a featherweight cotton-linen blend so they have a nice, natural stretch, but are still tailored in a slim fit.
SB: Which trunks or board shorts do you wear most often? What do you love about them?
MF: Oh man, that’s a tough call. I own a pair of each—not only because I like them all, but because I’m so behind on laundry. It’s actually an issue. I’m constantly being scolded by my team for grabbing inventory from the store like it’s my personal closet. I will say, though, the Chikura Print Board Shorts are probably my favorite. They’re inspired by a natural-dye Japanese textile I found that dates back to the 19th century.