Founded in 2018, La Bamba NYC is a women-owned eco-friendly wetsuit company with the goal of making a better wetsuit for women. As a company, the founder, Ann Kim created a more authentic business to reflected her values and breaking free from the surf industry rules, especially as it pertains to women.
"I think it's important to see how multidimensional women are outside of the "thing" they do. We're not just a product of the one activity or job we are known for - we're a sum of all our experiences and ideas. We need better stories about women."
What inspired the creation of La Bamba?
I was out surfing in CA one winter, where I grew up, and I had just purchased something cheap and easy to surf in for a short trip. Well anyway, that turned out to be the best mindless decision of my life - I got teased in the water by some boys who thought they'd call me out for having a rather 'flashy' wetsuit on with hot pink panels on the arms and legs. You know the kinda pretty stereotypical Billabong or Ripcurl type of wetsuit. It hit me as unfair and annoying that I couldn't wear what I wanted to without certain assumptions made about my skill level or belonging to the surf community.
I wanted to try and make something better than what was out there—something really flattering for a woman's body that was high performing and sophisticated.
What is it like being a woman central small wetsuit brand within a larger male-dominated surf industry?
It's been really interesting - I would say there are more than a handful of female-owned surf businesses and wetsuit brands that I like to keep up with. It's inspiring to see how important it is to have a female presence and stake some claim in the surf category. I would hardly say the larger male-dominated brands have taken notice of what La Bamba is doing so I don't think about those brands too much. Personally, I don't think they're doing or saying anything that is really capturing the hearts or attention of the type of woman we hope to resonate with. I feel like La Bamba is playing a different game.
What conversations do you seek to have/facilitate with your wetsuits and your platform?
I'd like to broaden the aperture of how women are represented in surf culture. Rather than just focusing all our attention on athletic acumen or style, I think it's important to see how multidimensional women are outside of the "thing" they do. We're not just a product of the one activity or job we are known for - we're a sum of all our experiences and ideas. We need better stories about women.
Who are your inspirations right now? Rad women? Cool brands?
Oooh. I am really inspired by Arpana Rayamajhi's style. It's eclectic, intelligent, and NY cool. I also love the maximalist style of Pernille Rosenkilde. I am also really inspired by Connie Matisse and how responsibly she uses her brand platform on East Fork pottery - she is super smart, culturally in tune, and keeps it real. I admire that.
What eco-friendly considerations do you take into account with your wetsuits? What is limestone neoprene?
So limestone neoprene is an alternative to mass neoprene that is made from petroleum. Limestone is a more sustainable option - it's naturally occurring, there's lots of it, and it's a technically superior material. You can use less of it for more warmth, and it's incredibly durable. What you end up with is a wetsuit that is lighter, stronger, and lasts a lot longer than your average mass wetsuit. All our separates are also made without zippers to cut down on unnecessary plastic. It requires a bit more wiggling to get into, but I'm sure our planet appreciates it.
Where can we all buy your wetsuits? Online? In-store?
Currently, we sell just online at labambanyc.com. We do pop-ups once in a while, so keep your eyes peeled on social!
What are you listening to right now? Song suggestions? Playlist link?
I've been in a bit of a music slump lately, and I fall back on a lot of 90s R&B. But lately, I've been listening to a lot of Jamiroquai for the pick me up.
Anything else you want to add/share?
To anyone who is reading this, keep doing what you're doing, and pour good energy and love into what you do. Eventually, the universe takes notice.