If you haven’t heard of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, just wait. You will. There’s always a new neighborhood in New York—in America, in the world—and on the day we visited Pop-In Goes Poolside swimwear designer Malia Mills way out in this west-facing burg, this one seemed to have as good a chance as any—Berlin’s Kreuzberg? Fox Hills in L.A.?—at being The Next Big Place.
The area’s 100-and-some-odd-years-old former shipping and manufacturing lofts are getting infused with face-lifting food and retail capital, and the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets are, as we speak, transforming a 70,000-square-foot warehouse into a factory for dunks and rebounds. The stacks of gridded windows and rows of high ceilings are prime real estate, but for the record: this cool lady was here before all that. Mills has West Brooklyn pioneer status.
Malia Mills outside her Brooklyn workspace; image by Kirby Calvin
Actually, one suspects upon meeting her that Mills, with her elegant punk hair and Mad Max style, was born a pioneer. And then you learn that she was born in Hawaii, where the uniform of entrepreneurs and daredevils is a bathing suit. Does that make Mills a born beach pioneer? We think so, yes.
In advance of the just-launched Poolside Pop-In, stylist and photographer Kirby Calvin and I visited the Malia Mills studio and talked with her about blazing trails in bikinis in Brooklyn, women and their bodies, and beyond.