Matsalleh Design makes swimming fun and fashionable for modest women

Recently, the brand has also included sports items in its line-up, such as a sport hijab.

Matsalleh Design’s swimsuit collections are vibrant in pattern and colour (All photos: Matsalleh Design)

As the saying goes, some of the best things in life happen accidentally. Dovile Kazokeviciute’s idea to start a modest swimsuit line came about when she saw a group of Muslim women at her condo’s swimming pool not wearing proper swimsuits. Instead, they opted for tights and T-shirts to cover up.

“I asked myself, ‘Why are they not wearing fashionable swimwear?’ After doing some research, I realised there were not many choices to begin with. In 2017, there was almost no one selling modest swimsuits that looked okay, not even the big brands,” says Kazokeviciute, a regular at the pool.

She came to Malaysia in 2014 for a contract job as a model and fell in love with the country. “I am from Lithuania and had never really heard of Malaysia before. But when I arrived here, I really liked it. I thought it was a very friendly place. People could speak English and communication was not an issue.”

After a while, she started to realise that Malaysia was not as big as other countries when it came to fashion modelling. “I’ve lived in China and Italy for a bit and didn’t feel like modelling was ‘it’ in Malaysia. But, I really liked this country.”


Kazokeviciute: "The sustainability of this business is in using really high quality materials."

She weighed up her decision on a career in modelling, while the swimming pool episode led her to chat with Muslim friends about setting up a modest swimwear line. “They thought it was an awesome idea. It took me a year to develop. I had only two designs to begin with because I was unsure if it was going to work,” she says.

Matsalleh Design’s swimsuit collections are vibrant in pattern and colour and the brand aims to balance modesty with fun and fashion. Apart from spending a lot of time on social media to find inspiration, Kazokeviciute also looks to nature, in the form of leaves and flowers, to help her choose the right colour combination for the patterns.

Every part of the suit is carefully constructed to solve issues surrounding modest swimwear. The swimsuit is long enough to provide extra coverage for the lower part of the body and comes with fasteners to prevent the top from riding up in the water.

While Kazokeviciute was satisfied with her first two designs, production was another hurdle. She looked for suppliers to work with but was not able to find local manufacturers that met her standards in terms of high-quality materials for her swimsuits.


Every part of the suit is carefully constructed to solve issues surrounding modest swimwear

As she was working with a tight budget, the risk of engaging suppliers that could not measure up was not a luxury she could afford. Thus, she outsourced the materials from manufacturers in China. “They are super-efficient and have the latest technology, which guarantees good quality for my products.” The production of each collection is done in bulk as it is more cost-effective.

She has been running the business for three years, and it was not until early last year that Kazokeviciute hired someone to help her. Previously, it was a one-woman show; with her doing everything, from developing designs and engaging with suppliers to building an online store and marketing the brand on social media. “I did everything on my own because this business was my baby and I didn't want to let anyone in on it until it was really stable.”

Although Kazokeviciute tries to run an environmentally friendly business, she understands it is hard to do so in fashion. “Whatever business you do, the fashion industry cannot be sustainable.” So, how does Matsalleh Design minimise its impact on the environment? “To me, the sustainability of this business is in using really high quality materials so the suits can be worn over and over for years,” she says.

Nylon and spandex fabrics are the most durable, which aligns with Kazokeviciute’s mission to make her products long-lasting. Though she cannot do much in choosing sustainable fabrics for the swimsuits, she contributes to the environment with an initiative called Changing the World One Tree at a Time, whereby the brand allocates a percentage of total sales to plant as many trees as possible, as soon as it can.

Matsalleh Design currently operates fully online, so it tries to cater for sizing by providing great customer service. “We help customers choose the size that best suits them. We also have a size exchange policy, so if you try [the suit] at home and it doesn’t fit, you can exchange it for another within two weeks.”



Recently, Matsalleh Design included sports items in its line-up, such as a sport hijab. “After the pandemic, people started to care more about their health. I think sports clothing will be the next big thing,” says Kazokeviciute.

For anyone wondering about the brand name, Matsalleh Design started as a joke among friends years before Kazokeviciute thought of starting this business. “When I first came here, I didn’t understand much of the Malay language. But I would always hear people refer to someone as mat salleh. So I googled the meaning. My friends said if I ever had a clothing line, I should call it Matsalleh Design. When I started my swimsuit business, I knew exactly what I wanted to call it.”

With Matsalleh Design, Kazokeviciute wants women to express themselves more by wearing something chic and stylish instead of boring dark and drab swimsuits. “Wearing colourful clothes really puts us in a good mood, especially if you go on holiday by the beach.”

This article first appeared on Jan 10, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.


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