Fashion Rule Breakers is an original A Plus Lifestyle series: Each month, we profile a fashion designer, model, organization, or icon who is a fashion rule breaker — someone who acts outside mainstream industry standards to make a positive difference.
"[People think] female surfers either have to be sexy babes with their bikinis coverings as little as possible, or wear very masculine outfits covering every inch of their bodies," Gerda Mi tells A Plus in an email. "Everyone imagines them with long sexy hair that they wear loose at all times. Which is weird, because when I had a bowl haircut, it was so much more comfortable to surf."
But the 26-year-old Lithuanian woman, who currently resides in Bali, Indonesia, is ready to break these dress code stereotypes through her designs for Makara, a "swimsuit brand for surfer chicks."
By proving to the world that sportswear for female surfers can be feminine, elegant and functional, Gerda is being a fashion rule breaker.
As Gerda explains, surfing has been very heavily dominated by males for many years, which, she believes is linked to the fact that the sport can be physically demanding and risky. However, she says she's noticed more and more women are getting into the sport these days.
"Well, surfing is a dangerous sport — sometimes waves are unpredictable, sometimes current pushes you into the deep water," Gerda tells A Plus. "It's all about reading the ocean and knowing that mother nature will always be more powerful than you, so you have to to go with the waves, not against them. These risks, however, are not gender-specific."
"We want to inspire girls to believe in themselves and try surfing. All while wearing something they feel both comfortable and confident it."
According to Gerda, string bikinis and tiny tops might look cute in photos, but in real life, this is the last thing you want to be wearing when a huge wave comes along.
"Simply because after a good set of waves you'll find your tiny bikini floating next to you," Gerda laughs. "This doesn't mean, however, you need to wear a guy's outfit to surf."
"Through my designs, I try to change the stereotype of women in sports," the designer says.
"Surfing, or any other sport, can be elegant. We don't need to look overly sexy or be running in our boyfriends' jumpers that are way too big. I think, we have to be proud of being women who love what we do, take care of our bodies and following our passions."
As Gerda explains, this is the exact thing she loves about fashion.
"Fashion a social movement and a lot of new brands and designers forgets that. It must carry a message, otherwise it is just a brand, not fashion."
To push boundaries surrounding female surfers even further, and to prove that surfing is for everyone, each year Gerda also donates Makara swimsuits to girls in local communities in Indonesia.
According to Gerda, women surfing in Indonesia is still a big taboo.
"Here many still believe that a woman's place is in the kitchen cooking and 'being a good wife.' In this very patriarchal society, it's not usual for Indonesian women to proactively chase their dreams, especially if that dream is being a surfer girl," she adds. "By giving our swimwear, we hope that we encourage local women to do what they love and also help them feel more confident and elegant in their water sessions."
You can watch local surfer girls sponsored by Makara discuss what it's like to be a female surfer in Indonesia below.
And to all the girls who still haven't tried surfing, Gerda would like to remind them there's nothing to be scared of.
"Pick a day when the waves are small, maybe get your hands on one of our swimsuits and remember it's just water, "she says. "We all are made of 70 percent of water."