Swedish brand Beachdragons launches its first collection of children’s swimwear this summer. The collection looks and feels amazing, but the real selling point is that the collection comes with built in UV-protection so the kids can play safely in the sun and look great at the same time.
With 80% of sun damage taking place before the age of 18, and skin cancer the most common type of cancer in young people aged between 12 and 24, we are all aware of the need for sun creams to protect young skin. But you can also protect your child by paying attention to what they are wearing.
So a children’s swimwear collection like Beachdragons that offers sun protection – all fabrics used in the collection are tested according to the strict Australian Standard AS/NZS4399:1996 and come with UPF 50+ protection, meaning 98% of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB radiation is blocked out – is a bonus with summer holidays coming up fast.
Beachdragons is beautifully designed too, with anchors floating alongside starfish and jellyfish and the occasional shark in a range of blues, greys and reds. Purple turtles swim with pink anchors in a paisley print. Or choose from pretty yellow butterflies or our favourite, the gorgeous blue blossom print. The collection includes swimsuits and shorts alongside protection suits and tops that offer more coverage.
We spoke to Beachdragons’ designer and founder, Jessica Dahlberg, about launching the collection and how the UV protection works.
FLUXLINGS: This is the launch season for Beachdragons. How long have you been planning the brand’s launch?
JESSICA DAHLBERG: The idea was first born during Christmas 2011, so in early 2012 the work to find the right fabrics and partners for production commenced. The design of the collection took form during the spring and the first collection launches now for summer 2013.
FLUXLINGS: Are you coming to the collection as a designer who has become expert in the effects of UV or the other way around? How did you get into designing swimwear?
JD: I have a background in law and business, but have always been passionate about design and aesthetics in general. There is lots of lovely childrenswear, but when it comes to UV-protective beachwear, I’ve always found it difficult to find nice designs that both the children and I like. So it came quite naturally to me to design more stylish swimwear and beachwear that are and more in line with how I normally dress my children.
FLUXLINGS: Can you explain how UV fabric works? So do we need to be worrying about what’s happening to the skin under the fabric of the t-shirt or swimwear on holidays or in the sun?
JD: Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is a rating system that was developed in Australia and New Zealand in the 1990s (Sun protective clothing – Evaluation and classification AS/NZS4399: 1996) and indicates how effective a fabric is at blocking out solar ultraviolet radiation. The higher the UPF number, the greater degree of UV protection a garment offers.
UPF is similar to SPF (Sun Protection Factor), the rating system used for sunscreen products. But while SPF is the universal measurement of UVB radiation, UPF gauges a fabric’s effectiveness against both UVA and UVB radiation, both of which can initiate and cause skin cancer.
Clothing provides one of the most convenient forms of protection against UV rays but not all garments offer sufficient sun protection. So the higher the UPF value, the better the protection the fabric offers. A white cotton t-shirt falls between UPF 5 and UPF 8, meaning it could allow as much as 20% of available UV radiation to pass through. Whereas a UPF rating of 50 indicates that the fabric will allow 2% of the UV radiation to pass through. Any fabric that allows less than 2% UV transmission is simply labelled UPF 50+ and all of the garments in the Beachdragons’ collection have the UPF 50+ rating meaning they offer excellent protection.
FLUXLINGS: Sweden isn’t known for its many hours of sunshine, but I notice the standard for the testing comes from Australia where they do get a lot of sunshine! Is there a lot of information coming back from there on the effects of the sun and skin cancer?
JD: Australia has the world’s highest skin cancer incidence rate – two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70. Due to its proximity to the equator, Australia experiences some of the world’s most intense UV exposure. And add to that the generally clear atmosphere in the southern hemisphere, the depleted ozone over Antarctica and the earth’s orbit meaning it passes close to the sun in January, the height of Australia’s summer. As the earth tilts at that time of year, sunlight coming through the Antarctica’s ozone hole lands on Australia.
But despite all that and the fact that the sun’s rays are getting stronger as a result of climate change and thinning ozone layer, the increase in skin cancer is mainly behaviourally driven. More than 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure and could have been prevented by sensible behaviour.
Although the sun in Sweden, or the UK, isn’t that strong, skin cancer is now the most common type of cancer in young people aged between 12-24 years old (Cancer Research UK).
Children are especially sensitive to the sun and should always be protected. A person’s cumulative exposure to UV radiation along with the number of severe sunburns they have received, especially during childhood, increases their risk of developing skin cancer.
Since one serious sunburn as a child or adolescent will more than double the risk of developing skin cancer as an adult, it is absolutely essential to provide your child with the best sun protection.
FLUXLINGS: The range is functional, but the designs are also really lovely for summer. Are the prints exclusive to Beach Dragons?
JD: Yes, all the prints in the Beachdragons’ collection are our own, unique designs. Since I couldn’t find any prints that I liked, I decided to design my own. The inspiration for many of the prints comes from the sea, but there’s also the blue floral print that was hand painted by my aunt and a pink butterfly print where the inspiration came from a beautiful wrapping paper.
FLUXLINGS: What is your own favourite place in the sun and by the sea? Where do you remember holidaying as a child?
JD: Since I grew up in the south of Sweden, I remember spending the summers on the long, sandy beaches of Österlen on Swedens south east coast. But when I was 8 we moved to Stockholm, and I absolutely adore the archipelago here, where we now spend most of our summers.
But as you said, Sweden isn’t known for its many hours of sunshine, so we tend to travel to the sun at least once a year. My favourite place in the sun is the beautiful and peaceful island St. Barts in the French West Indies, which actually was a Swedish colony from 1784-1878. This green island has the most amazing and uncrowded white beaches and the ambiance is very relaxed and friendly.
FLUXLINGS: Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
JD: One of my personal favourites is the Girl Blossom print, which was actually hand painted by my aunt. My girls (Olivia, 7 and Alicia, 5) absolutely love the Girl Turtle Paisley rash guard and pirate pants. They want to wear them all the time during summer and while on holiday – and obviously that makes me love them to. My son William, 3, adores the Boy Starfish rashie and swim shorts and the lovely turquoise colour just makes me happy!
Beachdragons childrens’ swimwear is available in sizes from 6 months to 10 years. International orders are welcome at www.beachdragons.com.