How to Live in Swimwear This Summer
The sister duo behind Mikoh on summer style and shopping.
Welcome to our How to Shop Like series, where we spotlight personalities within the fashion industry and take a deeper look at their personal relationships with style and how they shop—think all the best insider tips and tricks. This week we're chatting with the sisters and founders of swimwear brand Mikoh Kalani and Oleema Miller.
Most of us anticipate summer with a hunger akin to that of waiting for Christmas morning or that first cup of coffee on a dreary morning. The balmy days, the breezy nights, and, of course, the effortless fashion sing to us as temperatures begin to rise. For a lucky few, they reap the benefits of that lifestyle year-round. Sisters Kalani and Oleema Miller grew up in Orange County, California, with the beach in their backyard—the ocean-loving family practically lived in swimwear.
Their immersion into the industry side of things began early. At 10 and 11 years old, Kalani and Oleema began working with swimwear brand Roxy, surfing and modeling throughout their childhood. Born out of an identification of a need for fashionable yet functional swimwear, their own line, Mikoh, has Oleema stationed at the helm of creative and Kalani's support on the business side. That quintessential effortless quality of summer style we all strive for is evident both in their designs and their personal shopping habits. So we couldn't resist asking for a little advice on all things beachwear and summer style essentials.
Shop Kalani's Picks:
Shop Oleema's Picks:
What is it about fashion that initially drew you in?
Kalani Miller: "My sister and I always wore matching outfits growing up. I would always have the pink ensemble, while Oleema rocked the purple counterpart. Having a smaller frame, I have always been conscious of what clothes look best on me and which clothes really accentuate my best features. I love clothes—the touch and feeling of material and well-fitting pieces."
Oleema Miller: "For as long as I can remember, I have loved fashion, design, and anything creative. In the second grade, my mom let me use her sewing machine, and after that I was hooked. I remember sewing little bags from scrap fabrics that I would give to my friends. I specifically remember my pièce de résistance was a periwinkle Hawaiian print skirt. I was SO thrilled that I made it that I think I only wore it once and then cherished it for years as a prized possession. My love of all things beautiful runs in my blood, with my dad being a landscape architect and my mom as a lover of interiors and design. I have a deep appreciation and love of not just material things, but of the design nature bestows on flowers, foliage, the colors of the sand, and the varying blues of the sea. Design in nature is by far the most divine."
Why did you decide to launch your own line?
KM: "When we first wanted to launch the line, we noticed there was a major hole in the marketplace. We had grown up in the surf and swim industry, and as young 19- and 20-year-olds, we noticed there was no fashionable yet functional, great-fitting swimwear with a skimpier cut. We found ourselves tailoring a lot of our bikinis to fit our wants. Oleema was the real driving force for the brand, and as a true ride-or-die. I was along for the ride!"
OM: "From a very young age I knew that I wanted to start my own company. I can't necessarily say I was a rebel growing up (I definitely am a rule follower in a lot of ways), but I have always loved to push the limits and boundaries, to daydream of what can be. I have always, always, always wanted to be my own boss. My parents instilled in me confidence and conviction and have been my number one supporters since the day I was born. When the time came to continue on to college after high school, I knew it wasn't for me. I knew this was the time in my life that was a pivotal turning point. Instead of taking that path, I leapt and embraced the dream of not only running my own company, but creating beautiful things that instilled confidence and made women feel powerful, beautiful, and strong. I knew in my bones this was my path, and I went into it 110 percent with no fears and no looking back."
Fashion versus style—what's the difference to you?
KM: "In swimwear, I believe you must have a combination of both. Fashion, for me, is something that can be bought or created. It is something more tangible. Style, on the other hand, is something that cannot be bought. It comes from within and you exude it."
OM: "Fashion is cool, of-the-moment, and something that can be replicated. Style cannot be taught. Style is in the way you speak, the way you carry yourself, and the way you can effortlessly be unapologetically yourself."
Do you have a warm-weather uniform?
KM: "Swimwear, swimwear, swimwear! With a side of vintage denim shorts and Levi's, a flowy Mikoh maxi dress, and my essential sarong. With these pieces, you can mix and match a million different outfits. Island living, especially in the summer months, is about having lightweight pieces that are fun and functional. You must be ready to jump in the ocean to cool off at a moment's notice."
OM: "You can never go wrong with a gauzy, loose-fitted dress, a great pair of strappy sandals, and a bikini that can double as lingerie."
Favorite thing to splurge on?
KM: "Not going to lie, I still love a little statement bag. I just got the cutest tiny CHANEL raffia bag with pops of neon orange! It is perfect for the tropics and is just the cutest, tiniest thing."
Favorite purchase of all time?
KM: "I got this vintage diamond flower-shaped engagement ring from the markets in Paris on a trip I took with my mom and sister. It's from the 1920s and is a stunning piece. I'll forever remember this trip, and it really is a showstopper."
OM: "I have two. My first CHANEL bag (that is perforated seafoam green leather, no less) that I purchased at their Mykonos boutique years ago with my sisters on our first sister trip through Europe. And secondly, my plaster clamshell chandelier I scored at the flea markets in Paris in 2019. It proudly hangs above my dining table at my home in Hawaii."
What do you look for when shopping for swimwear? Any materials you gravitate towards?
KM: "For me, fit is always the most important. Having a flattering and well-fitting bikini is always at the top of my list. This season, I am loving different textures. We recently introduced a sparkly lurex material, and it has quickly become one of my favorites."
OM: "The three Cs of swimwear that every girl should remember: cut, comfort, and coverage. If you don't have one of those, the suit isn't for you. It is imperative to have a beautiful silhouette, a comfortable fabric, and just the right amount of coverage."
Photo: Courtesy of Mikoh
What are your summer style staples?
KM: "A great hat to protect from the summer heat. I also make sure to always have a bikini on hand. I have one in my car and one in my purse at all times, just in case the ocean looks too alluring to stay away from. In Hawaii, easy, breezy dresses are my top style staples paired with cute, strappy sandals."
OM: "Summer for me is all about bright statement swimwear, lightweight linens, gauzy cottons, vintage denim, fun, strappy sandals, statement jewelry, thin cashmere crewnecks, and a great bag that can transition from a day at the beach and straight into night."
Which stores do you frequent? Do you prefer to shop online or IRL?
OM: "I am a self-professed shopaholic. With the way the world is at the moment, I have been shopping online more than ever before. Matches and Net-A-Porter are always great for special pieces and the best sandals, Moda Operandi for discovering new designers, Etsy for vintage 501 Levi's, and obviously Mikoh for all things beach, swim, resort, and loungewear."
Swim styles you're looking forward to trying this summer?
KM: "I love the trend of the high-waisted bikini right now. It is the perfect vintage throwback, and we have a skimpier-cut version of this to still show off your curves. Pair this with a classic top for the ultimate beach-babe look."
OM: "We are so thrilled to be launching our first-ever eco-conscious collection. We will be incorporating the use of recycled fabrics into our line, without compromising the fit or feel of our pieces. I can't wait to be doing good while feeling good. Summer for me means pop prints, bright statement colors, and a great, easy-to-wear one-piece that can easily double as a bodysuit when paired with tailored high-waisted shorts or a breezy maxi skirt."
What items do you wear for beach cover-ups?
KM: "Post-beach, I love having something soft and cozy to throw on. Our new velour line is perfect for this, and the Mirai sweatshirt paired with the Luca short is an essential. I also love these pieces for plane rides! This season, the Sakura maxi dress has been a staple here in Hawaii. It's flowy and can be dressed up or down. Our poppy pink color is great for summer!"
OM: "I love anything oversize when at the beach. Our Mirakami dress, cut in the most delicious gauzy cotton, has been a go-to staple of mine for years. For a more polished look that you can easily go from street to sand is our Taiyo crop top paired with our Delia skirt. It is pure perfection."
When it comes to swimwear, is it necessary to invest, or can you find good ones on the cheaper side?
KM: "I believe it's best to have a few really good key pieces that will last season to season. Having a few core pieces of swimwear is perfect and worth the investment. Try to stick to some great classic solid colors like black, bone, or red. Then it's fun to introduce a more of-the-moment fashion piece that maybe won't break the bank that will just last one season. Investing in key pieces is best, though!"
OM: "For me, I would rather have quality over quantity. There are great suits out there for reasonable price points; however, nothing compares to a handmade, beautiful, quality suit that will last you season after season."
Other than your own, favorite fashion brands or designers of the moment?
KM: "I love good basics. Since we normally spend most of the year traveling, I always make sure I have basics sprinkled with some fun fashion pieces. I have these red Saint Laurent cowboy boots that will always be at the top of my list. As for basics, I love a vintage pair of Levi's. I also make sure I have some pieces from my boyfriend's line, Outerknown. They use all organic and sustainable materials, which is a big everyday practice in our household."
OM: "I have loved LouLou Studio for their thin cashmere sweaters. They have the best weight to them and are trans-seasonal, which is so important when living between Hawaii and California. I just purchased a few pieces from Porte & Paire, perfect shearling house slides and the cutest simple black wrap sandals. Janessa Leone is one of my favorites for a wide-brimmed straw hat that will last you for years. La Ligne is my destination for a more dressed-up piece; they do the most beautiful dresses."
What are the top five most worn items in your summer wardrobe?
KM: "Vintage Levi jeans and the Mikoh Kumu 2 top paired with the Waikui 2 bottom for a vintage feel. The Mikoh Mariana crop top is one of my favorite pieces from the collection! I have it in every color and have worn it countless times. I love a great hat (my mom always says never leave the house without a hat). The sun is so strong here in Hawaii, especially in the summer, so having a wide-brimmed hat is necessary! I also love a classic bucket hat. A pair of Ray-Bans—call me a classic girl! I love my polarized Ray-Bans, and they have withstood the test of time while traveling around the world with me."
OM: "Vintage Levi cut-offs, an oversized white tee, Mikoh dresses, a thin cashmere sweater, and a statement jeweled sandal. This is all you will ever need."
Favorite people to follow on Instagram for summer inspiration?
KM: "@mikoh, of course!"
OM: "Anyone that lives in Europe. I am dreaming of the day we can return to the Mediterranean and to the streets of Provence."
Photos: Courtesy of Mikoh
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