SEPTEMBER: An Interview with Erika Togashi

Designed in New York City – Tested in Bali.

Erika Togashi is a fashion designer from New York City with a love and passion for the surfing lifestyle. 

Erika dedicated over fifteen years to famous brands including Patagonia, The North Face, J. Crew and Deus Ex Machina, firmly establishing herself at the top-end of a competitive industry. 

SEPTEMBER

SEPTEMBER is the culmination of Erika’s dream to create a brand focussed on timeless and elegant surf and swim wear, built on a foundation of sustainability and sound ethical practices. 

From their environmental commitments to their body positivity messages, SEPTEMBER are a truly inspirational brand.

“I spent so much time looking for a perfect simple swimsuit for surfing – one that made me feel confident and feminine, stayed on, and was made from sustainable materials. So I took that leap of faith and started to design and produce my own sustainable swimwear. One and a half years later, SEPTEMBER was launched.”

Erika Togashi

The brand is purely independent and self-funded. The name SEPTEMBER, inspired by the month itself, is a representation of new beginnings with the changing of seasons, and of course the best month to surf on the East Coast!

Functionality, Durability, and Sustainability

SEPTEMBER suits are built for functionality and durability in and out of water. Each garment is part of a stringent design process that ensures the fit, color, and materials blend into streamlined and classic silhouettes.

The team tests every design not once, but up to five times per suit! After samples are produced, they are immediately fitted on surfers who take them to the ocean. Testing continues until everyone is happy. I just love their ethos;

“When we’re happy, we know you will be too.” 

One aspect of SEPTEMBER products that the Surfd team love is the fantastic aesthetics, yet the technical performance of the suits ensure they perform at a high-level session after session, season after season. The SEPTEMBER Instagram is the perfect platform to see the awesome designs in action.

“Gone are the days where you need to worry about your ‘female bits’ sticking out. Focus on your surfing technique and style, we’ve got you covered – literally.” 

When you browse the SEPTEMBER range you can immediately see that the brand loves a neutral color palette, allowing their swimwear to transcend seasons. However, Erika and the team are not scared to bolden things up occasionally, releasing a design that is as striking as it is beautiful. 

Erika believes that each SEPTEMBER suit has a story to tell, a story of what she likes to call conscientious design.

From the very start, sustainability and environmental factors influenced the decisions made by SEPTEMBER. It is so refreshing to see sustainability remaining firmly at the core of the brand, despite their success. Erika continues to adhere to her message of quality over quantity, maintaining the small run production at a female owned factory in Bali. 

Production & Design

While I often call brands out for misusing “Green Labeling”, it is fantastic to see that SEPTEMBER cares about every stage of every process. They are particularly passionate about the conditions that workers are subjected to. 

Most workers have been with the factory for over twenty years, with generational cross-over as employees bring family members to work alongside them as part of the SEPTEMBER team. Everyone is paid a base living wage which is 3x higher than the Indonesian minimum wage. In addition, they are paid per piece they sew, given a daily food allowance and paid overtime for any work completed past 5pm.

Sustainable Fabric

SEPTEMBER’s signature luxury fabric is sourced from Italy. It is recycled and made from 78% ECONYL® regenerated nylon and 22% elastane, which comes from pre and post industrial waste, including ghost fishing nets and carpet fluff. The yarns can be infinitely recycled, supporting the SEPTEMBER vision of a circular fashion industry.

10,000 tons of ECONYL® eliminates 12,000 pounds of waste and 42,000 tons of CO2 emissions. This sustainable Italian fabric combines a unique mix of muscle compression, sculpting and comfort and thanks to its innovative construction, it is twice as resistant to chlorine, suntan creams and oils than conventional recycled fabric. Not only is the fabric resilient, it also ensures that each and every SEPTEMBER garment provides you with a sun protection factor of UPF 50

Packaging

All SEPTEMBER swing tags are made from 100% recycled card paper. The hygiene liners are made from material that is environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Every swimsuit is packaged with care in a reusable organic cotton drawstring bag and arrives in a 100% compostable bag made from sustainably-sourced plants. 

“There is already so much waste within the retail landscape and not to mention the fast fashion industry. We’re doing things differently.”

An Interview with Erika Togashi

We are delighted to have spent a little bit of time with Erika recently.

Hi Erika, Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Are you currently in New York or Bali?
Hey Nathan, Of course, thank you so much for including SEPTEMBER in your mix! I am currently in Bali but am planning on heading back to NYC in the next month or so.

SEPTEMBER Founder Erika Togashi

How have the waves been? Does your busy schedule allow you to grab a few sneaky
sessions?

I wish I had better news for you, but the waves have been less than ideal lately. We’ve had a bad rainy season so I am embarrassed to say I haven’t had a proper surf since I got back from the Mentawais in early November. Rainy season turns the water pretty dirty in Bali and since I’m not a fan of nose or ear infections, I run and train instead. When the season is on, I do try and surf a couple times a week, but I have to say, running an independent business doesn’t allow for as much time for surfing as I would like!

Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind SEPTEMBER?

It all started in 2017-18. I was living in Bali and surfing daily and I just couldn’t find any swimwear that stayed on, lasted more than a few months and wasn’t over-designed with loud prints or bright colors. Nothing was offered in sustainable fabrics – that wasn’t even an option. If I was frustrated by the lack of swimwear, in Bali of all the places, I knew others must be feeling the same way too. I’m a designer by trade so it felt natural for me to start designing my own swimwear. Having designed for Patagonia, The North Face and other brands, I’m naturally drawn towards functional design and that is what SEPTEMBER is about – clean, modern, sustainable design.


At Surfd we love the classic styling of the SEPTEMBER garments. Is there a particular era of surf / swimwear design that you feel sets the standards?
I personally love the 50-60’s for men’s boardshorts designs, there is a lot to be said forunderstated functional design which is what those boardshorts were given it was before they started surfing in quick dry fabrics. But for women’s swimwear I think we are currently setting the standard for design. More women are surfing today than ever before and they want swimwear that makes them feel confident, beautiful and relaxed in and out of the water. They don’t want to wear a string bikini that barely cover them, has women portrayed as sex objects, and mass produced in a factory on the other side of the world. Women want swimwear designed for women by women and we are living in a time when that’s a reality. SEPTEMBER is a perfect example of that.

Which designs do you find yourself mostly wearing for a surf session?
Anything and everything that’s long sleeves and high waisted – so the Scorpion Sun Crop Top(inspired from getting absolutely fried on a surf trip to Scorpion Bay in Baja) and the Lucky Bottoms. I’m also very excited about a new long sleeve surf suit that’s coming out this season – the Baja Surf Suit. I’ve been testing it out for the last year and after many, many samples, I’m finally ready to share it with everyone.


As I’ve gotten older and become much more conscious of sun damage, I am all about thecoverage. I can’t believe how much time I used to spend surfing in a bikini, now I’m covered head to toe (almost). It’s also an added bonus that the Italian regenerated material we use is UPF50!


Do you think we will ever see a time where the surf industry becomes truly sustainable?
Good question! I would like to say of course, but I’m not so sure. Surfboards…that’s a wholecategory on its own that I can’t speak to. For swimwear and apparel, to be truly sustainable, we should not be producing anything new, just recycling and buying second hand. I am not sure how much that will catch on with swimwear and boardshorts. I would love to be able to offer a recycle program like Patagonia’s WORN WEAR, but haven’t been able to figure out the logistics of a program like that for a company our size. It would be great if swimwear brands could combine forces to collectively recycle/upcycle swimwear and somehow give it a new life – whether it’s pillow stuffing, board bag covers…you name it! To end on a positive note, I think it’s amazing that so many swimwear brands are now using recycled materials and packaging. Now, you’re almost an outlier if you’re not using recycled materials.

What’s next for SEPTEMBER? Any exciting news on the horizon?
We are just about to launch our Spring/Summer 2022 collection and I’m so excited about. Icollaborated with two amazing women this season, Elizabeth Sneed from @curvysurfergirl to now offer additional sizing to our collection, and Lauren Yates from W’MENSWEAR who designed a beautiful original hand painted camo for a few of our key pieces. We are also continuing our collaboration with female surf legend Kassia Meador and Lola Mignot. Kassia has been incredibly supportive of SEPTEMBER since day one and I love working with her.

Style Goddess Kassia Meador


One of my long time side projects will be launching later this year, SEPTEMBER Move – a small capsule collection of key activewear tops and bottoms to keep you moving year round, especially when you’re not able to get in the water for a surf.

Spring/Summer 22

Here at Surfd we simply cannot wait to see the Spring/Summer 22 range from SEPTEMBER! Watch this space as we will bring you full details of Erika’s stunning new designs as soon as we can.