Into the Abysse: 21 Questions With Surfer-Model-Designer Hanalei Reponty

Hanalei Reponty

Not your average triple threat.


Growing up on the Pacific Island of Tahiti, Hanalei Reponty learned how to swim before she could walk – developing a deep bond and respect for the ocean and its inhabitants. So it should come as no surprise that the surfer-turned-model-turned-designer has devoted her life to not only enjoying the world’s oceans, but protecting them as well.

The launch of Hanalei’s Abysse earlier this year further aids in this mission: a collection of fashion-meets-function wetsuits and bikinis made for fearless beach babes around the world, fabricated from eco-friendly Japanese Geoprene.

We caught up with the global nomad (and young Daryl Hannah lookalike, if we may add), on island life, world’s best beach destinations, triple threat career status, and her top 3 tips for protecting our oceans.

Surfer / Model / Designer Hanalei Reponty of Abysse

Your story begins on the Pacific Island of Tahiti. What do you miss the most about living there?

Everything. The island’s cool and relaxed lifestyle, the smiles on people’s faces, the crystal clear water, the raw fish, the feeling of being sunburnt after surfing 10 hours, riding in the back of trucks, being disconnected from the world and feeling so free.

At what age did you start surfing and how did you transition your surf career into a modeling career?

Growing up on a tiny island like Tahiti, surrounded by perfect crystal clear waves, was paradisiac. I have never dreamt of being a model, all I wanted to do was surf. I started surfing professionally around the age of 15 & traveled the world with my main sponsor at the time, Ripcurl.

At 17, they asked me to become the face of the brand, and be their muse; so I went on shooting all their campaign, as well as magazine promotions, interviews, etc…and that is how it all started, through my love of the ocean.

Tell us about how you came up with the idea for Abysse. Is design always something you were interested in? Was there an “aha” moment when you thought “I need to do this?”

Creating Abysse has been a dream of my own since a very long time.􀀀􀀀 After surfing for Ripcurl, it made me want to create a brand of my own, which was based on my values especially towards the environment, in order to empower women all over the world. I wanted to create a brand that stood for something that I believed in.

The wetsuits are hand made in California out of Limestone based neoprene, which the most ecofriendly solution of the 21st century. It has been an amazing journey, supporting athletes that have a deep love for the ocean. I want to be able to tell their stories, of who they are and how they affect the world; not mine. I want Abysse to be a second skin for them, and a support for all the amazing girls around the world, doing a little or a lot. I want it to be real.

4. Between surfing, modeling and designing, which do you love the most?

Surfing. Because you feel so free. But I truly cannot choose one, as they are all really important faces of my life and I do not think I would feel fulfilled with only one… The combination of the 3 has been my happiness.

5. We love your commitment to not only give back, but educate consumers in the process on protecting the ocean and its inhabitants. What about Sirens for the Sea spoke to you?

It is a huge part of why I created Abysse. To be able to give back and to help the environment in the process. Sirens for the Sea is a super rad organization directed by a bunch of specialists who aim to conduct research and raise awareness as well as educate future generations. Their founder, Malia and I have become very good friends and I am really excited to see what we will do in the future.

6. What are your top 3 tips for the average person to help protect our oceans?

a. Trash. All your trash ends up in the ocean, especially plastic. The most deadly trash are straws, bottle caps, and plastic bags. Animals will either try to eat them, or get stuck in them. Plastics that end up as ocean debris contribute to habitat destruction and entangle and kill tens of thousands of marine animals each year. Make sure to recycle & pick up any trash you see on the beach. Use a water bottle, store food in non disposable containers, bring your own reusable bag when shopping, and recycle whenever possible.

b. Mind your carbon footprints. This will help reduce climate change and its effect on the environment. Turning off the lights & using candles, walking or riding your bike instead of using the car, being aware of your impact on the world around you.

c. Global fish populations are rapidly being depleted due to demand, loss of habitat, and unsustainable fishing practices. When shopping or dining out, help reduce the demand for overexploited species by choosing seafood that is both healthful and sustainable.

7. All of your suits are made from Japanese Geoprene, a limestone-based neoprene. Tell us 3 things about this fabrication we should know.

a. Neoprene is made from petroleum, which has a terrible effect on the environment. Limestone based neoprene is a step towards a more ‘sustainable’ product.

b. Limestone based neoprene has superior qualities than normal neoprene, such as ultra low resistance, superior mold ability and enhanced comfort, high heat retention, lightweight and high durability.

c. Limestone based neoprene is extremely durable and resistant to abrasions, allowing for a longer product life.

8. Top 5 favorite beach destinations in the world:

a. Moorea, French Polynesia

b. Anywhere in the Maldives

c. Byron Bay, Australia

d. North Shore, Hawaii

e. Tulum, Mexico

9. Top 5 favorite surf spots in the world:

a. Taapuna, Tahiti

b. Lowers, California

c. North Shore, Hawaii

d. Pasta Point, Maldives

e. Noosa Heads, Australia

10. What 5 essentials must be in the beach bag?

a. Bikini

b. Wax

c. Sunscreen

d. Water

e. Book

11. Because we have to ask…if you were stranded on an island, what 3 items would you have with you?

a. My fishing harpoon

b. Mask and palms

c. Lighter

12. What’s next for Abysse?

We are developing an active wear capsule, and we can not wait to see how it all turns out…

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13. If I weren’t a surfer/model/swim designer, I would be:

My whole life, I wanted to be a doctor. But my life came at cross roads, where I understood that if I did that, I would not be traveling for a good 10 years. So, I went into business school instead. If I wasn’t surfing/modeling/designing, I don’t know where I would be, but I would like to think that I would be trying to help people and the environment.

14. If I could have any 1 person in the world (past or present) wear Abysse, it would be:

Rell Sunn X Jenna de Rosnay X Elle Macpherson

15. My favorite surf moment in film is:

Rell Sunn in Heart of the Sea

16. If you were to find me on the beach, I’d be wearing:

Nothing but a teeny tiny bikini!

17. If you were to find me at the bar, I’d be drinking:

A margarita! My favorite.

18. If I could pack up and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, I’d go to:

To my home, Tahiti.

19. Bikini or 1 Piece?

Bikini!

20. Sky Diving or Scuba Diving?

Scuba! Breathing underwater is the most incredible feeling in the world…

21. Sunrise or Sunset?

Both. They are both magical. A new day begins, a new day ends.

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