Kalani and Oleema Miller know a thing or two about life on the beach. The sisters are the force behind MIKOH, a swimwear line for the confident modern woman, unique and wearable at home and abroad. In Japanese, miko is a term that means ‘female shaman’ or ‘female prophecy’ which is no surprise as the sisters’ designs are rooted in minimalism, femininity, and ease. For over a decade they have been designing collections influenced by their surf culture and a childhood spent near the ocean.
While beach days are kind of their thing (they both live on the North Shore of Oahu — dream life, right?), this nomadic duo are experts at living fashionably out of a suitcase. They are seasoned travel pros, so it’s no question we are taking all of their advice on how to not only style our Resort Linen Silk, but also on showing us how well these pieces pack and transition from the bedroom to the beach.
You girls are always on the move — from one city to the next, you’re our favorite nomads to keep up with. When living out of a suitcase, what’s your packing strategy?
K: Since we are constantly on the road and traveling to new places, I always like to make sure I have good basics that I can mix and match with more key pieces. I always make sure I have a great fitting pair of jeans, some solid basic tops and good layering pieces. I never quite know where I will end up next and what climate I will be in, so I like to be prepared. Of course I always make sure I have a bikini. Even in cold weather, you never know if there will be a jacuzzi, sauna, or hot spring. I am also a creature of comfort and love to have all of my vitamins, essential oils, a hat, a good book, and I sometimes even travel with my pillow.
O: Despite the fact that it has been my New Year’s resolution for the last decade, I never seem to be able to ‘pack light’. Rather, I have gotten better at packing ‘smarter’ and do my best to pick out my looks ahead of time. I love starting with basics (a few great simple dresses, vintage denim, tailored shorts, always a cashmere sweater or two, and great tees) and then adding in some more fun statement pieces. Depending on where I’m going, I’ll curate my jewelry and the more fashion forward pieces based off of that. I love wearing pieces that really fit the location I’m traveling to—shell inspired jewelry when in Hawaii, bright fun colors for Miami, shades of white for Europe in the summer…
What can we absolutely expect to find in your luggage?
K: You can always find great basics, lots of bikinis, multiple hat options, lots of cozy loungewear and PJs, and a great throw-on cashmere crew neck sweater. I love traveling with some clean beauty products as well. I create my own mini spa whenever I get off of a long-haul flight—a quick dry brush, a long, hot shower, followed by a short cold water rinse, and a detoxifying face mask makes a world of a difference.
O: First thing I always grab is a bikini or two. I am also loving our Portugal One Piece that can double as a bodysuit with denim jeans. I love trying out new skin care and I’m really into clean beauty these days. Also, I never leave without my Kindle. It is the easiest way to read while on the go.
Your personal approach to fashion, in a nutshell?
K: I like to mix it up day to day. I love soft materials and find myself always feeling materials as I shop. I think if you dress in classic pieces you will always have a timeless look. I tend to lean more towards basics and have to force myself to wear color.
O: Classic and timeless mixed with bright, fun, bold, and statement-making pieces. Life is too short to be boring!
Where do you find your inspiration for MIKOH? Has travel played an important role when designing a new collection?
K: Spending so much time on the road, it is impossible to not be inspired by the different cultures that we visit. Whether it's a palm leaf in Tahiti or the sand in Fiji, we are constantly drawing inspiration.
O: I have been traveling since I was 12 years old (somehow I convinced my parents that I was old enough to come to Hawaii solo at 12… clearly I’m very persuasive and my parents had lots of trust in me, ha!) and I’ve had the travel bug ever since. Experiencing new cultures and seeing their landscapes, feeling their textiles, tasting their food, and taking in their surroundings greatly inspires every collection. There is nothing I love more than visiting a new place and soaking up all that they have to offer—bright colors on fabrics, the way the sky lights up when the sun sets, the different textures and colors of the beaches and rocks, the details of the exotic flowers… all of those intricate details are what resonates with me most with every season of MIKOH.
Describe your label’s aesthetic in 3 words…
K: Great fitting, classic, fun.
O: Modern, timeless, fun.
Both of you live in a bikini — how has living a life on the beach influenced your style?
K: I love having pieces that I can throw on after a day on the beach. Lightweight, airy, comfortable pieces are essentials in my wardrobe. I love the classic beach look — a white shirt and some simple gold jewelry. Who doesn’t want to look like they just came off the beach with a sun-kissed tan?
O: I just recently purchased my dream home that is literally on the sand of one of my favorite beaches in the world and I've been in full home renovation mode. Being beachside has made me rely heavily on easy, throw on pieces that are lightweight for this summer heat, comfy, and perfect for being on and off the sand. If you came to my house, you’d probably find me in a bikini and a pareo, a pair of cut-off vintage Levi’s, or a throw on oversized dress — it’s all about comfort here on the beach.
When traveling off the beach or islands, I still always have a certain part of my love of the beach with me. In New York in the winter, I love wearing all neutrals with some pops of color — tie dye cashmere sweaters, bright colored cashmere beanies, or some fun jewelry. I love taking a part of beach with me always.
What are your tips for feeling more confident in a swimsuit?
K: There is nothing more attractive than someone who is confident in a bikini, no matter their size, age, or body type. If you feel comfortable in your bikini or one piece it will shine through. We design our swim with flattering cuts and lines that make women and their confidence shine through.
O: Confidence is key in life — not just when in a swimsuit. In this day and age, anything goes. Whatever you feel the best in is what you should wear. Don’t follow trends or wear anything that doesn’t make you feel strong, beautiful, and confident; wear what makes you happy and brings you joy (though a bit of sun, a jump in a cool ocean, and some sand between my toes add instant confidence for me).
How would you say your travel style differs from one another?
K: A lot of times Oleema and I will show up to the airport wearing the same outfit. I think that comfort is key for a flight and I think it is better to be low-key when traveling. I love my alpaca sweatpants and sweatshirt from Lunya and I always travel in them.
O: We both are low-key when it comes to our travel styles and just like to blend in. I am not one for wearing some crazy outfit through airports — I think flying under the radar is always better in transit. A great pair of leggings, an oversized hoodie, and some base layers are all I need to be comfortable when traveling. Lunya makes the best travel outfits; I always bring an entire extra outfit with me in a carry-on in the event of delays, a spilling nightmare, or for long-haul flights.
What are the most important things to pack for a day at the beach?
K: Our mom always told us to never leave the house without a hat. I also always have a reusable water bottle filled with filtered water as well as beach snacks. This can be anything from a bag of carrots to some fresh frozen grapes. I love a good book via my Kindle and of course a backup a bikini or two. Also, never forget your dog! My dog Action loves days at the beach.
O: A ginormous hat, a Yeti filled to the brim with water and fresh squeezed lemon, an oversized beach blanket, multiple sunscreens, some snacks (I love cold oranges or grapes, pretzels, carrots), and a big umbrella for shade. These are all key!
Where are you excited to travel this summer?
K: We have a pretty crazy travel schedule this summer. There are lots of different climates coming up whether it be steamy hot New York, humid Miami, or chilly South Africa to celebrate my birthday. It is definitely all over the board and I’m excited to see what the summer brings.
O: I’m hoping to make the trip over to Europe this summer. A girlfriend is currently traveling through Corsica and it looks like an absolute dream — the landscapes, the swimming holes, the amazing architecture, and food are making me want to hop on a plane right now.
What is your philosophy on transitioning these Resort Linen sets from beach to bed?
K: Having easy to wear pieces from bed to beach fit perfectly in with our lifestyle. Lightweight and breezy pieces are essential in my wardrobe.
O: I love when pieces in your wardrobe can work in multiples spaces and scenarios. These pieces are lightweight, breezy, and perfect for beachside living or for staying cozy in bed in the winter — they transition perfectly from season to season and I'll definitely be wearing these sets for all occasions.
You recently hit your 10 year mark — huge congratulations! What’s next for MIKOH?
K: You’ll have to wait and see!
O: Thank you, thank you! If you would have told me 10 years ago that this is where I would be, I wouldn’t have believed you. Kalani and I have accomplished so much in these last ten years and yet it feels like it was just yesterday that we started MIKOH. To have the same love and passion for what I do is both exhilarating and rewarding. Just like from when we started, there isn’t necessarily a road map or a full plan for what the next 10 years look like. I do know though that they’re going to be a hell of a lot of fun.