SHE BUILT HER BRAND WITH BIKINIS, AND NOW AUSTRALIAN SWIMWEAR MODEL AND ENTREPRENEUR NATASHA OAKLEY IS STRIPPING DOWN AGAIN FOR A NEW PROJECT
Swimwear model Natasha Oakley strips down for a new project.
They say choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. And for most of us, wearing a bikini is a job. Not so for Natasha Oakley, who seems to be the living embodiment of that old adage. Oakley, who grew up in the beachside Sydney suburb of Bronte, tells Stellar she and business partner Devin Brugman “had a realisation one day that our obsession was not bags, or shoes… it was swimwear. Every dollar we made growing up was spent on swimwear!”
Like Oakley, Brugman grew up near the beach – she hails from Hawaii. In 2012, the pair was producing shoots, most of them featuring swimwear, for Oakley’s production company based in Los Angeles. Oakley served as the photographer and videographer, while Brugman played assistant.
“We would be on the other side of the camera shooting swimwear models, but we would also be in our swimwear,” Oakley recalls. In their downtime, they would fool around, taking shots of each other. Driven by an entrepreneurial streak – and, probably, a bit of the pride that comes from knowing you look gorgeous in a bikini – they launched an Instagram account called A Bikini A Day. It has drawn more than 650,000 followers, and a lifestyle blog of the same name followed. Oakley and Brugman now spend their lives travelling to far-flung locales, shooting photos of models wearing the swimwear brands they love.
“Anyone who loves swimwear is the type who likes to travel, be out in the world and surf or exercise. She’s usually quite free-spirited,” Oakley, 27, says. “The reason we created the blog is there is an entire lifestyle around swimwear, one we wanted to share with our audience.”
At last count, the best friends had accumulated an estimated 3000-plus bikinis, which are stored in their office (colour-coded, of course).
One of the reasons they have struck a chord with their audience is that they avoid showcasing rail-thin models in their work; Oakley and Brugman themselves are enviably tanned, but also boast bodies that look genuinely healthy. “I am a curvaceous woman,” Oakley says. “And I think a lot of people have had new-found confidence within themselves from seeing what we do.”
But Oakley is quick to point out that she does not spend all her time lolling around the Cinque Terre or the beaches of Thailand in a bikini, doing little more than nailing the perfect shot. “The other side of it is I run my own swimwear and activewear label [Monday Swimwear and Monday Active],” she says. “I manage all of our companies – even if I am wearing a bikini while I sit there on the laptop doing work.”
Oakley serves as the face of other clothing brands when it fits her aesthetic – she was recently tapped to appear in Bonds’s upcoming Mashi underwear campaign, which is about mixing and matching styles. Did modelling underwear feel like just another day at the office for her, or did it actually leave her feeling more exposed than her trusty bikinis? “No, it’s the same thing for me,” she says with a laugh. “Honestly? If I was walking in the street [in my underwear] it might feel a bit different… but I felt fine. My mum wears Bonds, my little sister
``I manage companies, even if I wear a bikini while I work´´
wears Bonds, I wear Bonds. It’s part of your life as an Australian. And it is really cool to work with them because their branding and messaging align with mine. I love the fact that it’s for everyone.” Emily Small, head of marketing for Bonds, adds: “We love Tash’s energetic attitude. She sheds a positive light on body confidence and self-acceptance.”
Oakley’s boyfriend, London-based personal trainer and model Gilles Souteyrand, joins her as much as he can as she crosses the globe and chases the sun. In fact, he is often the one on the other side of the lens. Technically, this makes him her Instagram husband, a term coined to describe those weary partners who patiently snap away until their girlfriends are happy enough with a picture to upload it.
“I wouldn’t say he’s [ that],” Oakley says. “But he’s definitely become a very good photographer, just balancing on some wall to get the shot.” She lets out a giggle. “We’re always getting in compromising positions.” H&M anorak, $80, and shirt, $80, hm.com/au; Bonds briefs, $15, bonds.com.au; (above) Bec & Bridge shirt, POA, becandbridge. com.au; Bonds crop top, $20, bonds.com.au; Kowtow pants, $219, kowtowclothing.com
``tash sheds a positive light on body confidence´´
Acler shirt, $270, acler. com.au; Bonds bodysuit, $25, bonds.com.au; Ryan Storer earrings (worn throughout), $380, ryanstorer.bigcartel.com; Reliquia necklace (worn throughout), $160, reliquiajewellery.com; H&M shoes (worn throughout), $25, hm.com/au; (opposite) Bonds crop top, $35, bonds.com.au; Bianca Spender pants, $435, biancaspender.com