Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Interview With Mia Lewin Founder Of Ethical Lingerie Brand Airbrushed Intimates

Mia Lewin launched her brand, Airbrushed Intimates, on the 1st July 2020. 
I love the bright zingy colours of the soft regenerated fabric (ECONYL®)that she has chosen for her first lingerie collection. Mia is open about what she likes about fast fashion - it's colours, soft fabrics and affordability - but also wants to see change to the unsustainable strain fast fashion has on our planet. Airbrushed Intimates also offer a return and recycle scheme and have begun a partnership with The Big Blue Ocean Cleanup, donating £1 for every photo shared.  I was curious about the origin of the brand's name, and wanted to find out more about Mia's hopes for her new lingerie line and for the planet...

 1.    What inspired you to start Airbrushed Intimates and what led you to choose this name?

 The environment became my world during University, where I specialised in sustainability within society. After which, my path actually took a turn and I became a full-time model, with which I was immersed into the fashion industry - an industry that I have always adored; as it promotes diversity, enables self-expression, enhances confidence, reflects religion and keeps history alive.

To my dismay, this world also exposed me to the harsh reality that is fast fashion - the sheer number of garments that are purchased and discarded for the industry is devastating. Each person buys an estimated 26.7kg of clothing every year in the UK alone, often fuelled by fast fashion brands releasing new styles weekly as a strategy designed to make people feel as though the clothes they just bought are already off trend.

Nonetheless, I have to admit that I am an absolute sucker for cute clothing. Which brings me to why Airbrushed was founded - to 'Airbrush' the bad bits out of the fast fashion industry and show how sustainable manufacturing can produce designs that are even more appealing, and just as affordable as those offered by fast fashion brands.

The word choice actually came from my personal feelings towards airbrushing models, a standard practice in the fashion industry that can be extremely harmful to both the model and those who view the photographs. I actually came up with the name on set of a shoot! To cut a long story short, I hope to bring a whole new meaning to the word and use it for positive impact. We refuse to airbrush our models, because we promise you, your bodies and skin are far more beautiful left untouched.

2.  What role do you plan for the brand in promoting body positivity and diversity?
The debut collection launched with five sizes from extra-small to extra-large, as I noticed bralette sets are often only available in three sizes, from small to large. Moving forward, the brand is currently in the process of releasing several more sizes up to a UK size 22; which we have wanted to have from the start, but given our restrictions on quantities and time, we had to stick to the five at first and release more sizes as we grew (slow fashion has its difficulties!).

In line with this we were able to have several models for our debut collection; all different ethnicities and sizes. After being a full-time model and constantly being airbrushed myself, body positivity is extremely important to me personally – I’ve felt the damage that it can cause, and don’t wish for anyone to feel that way! Hence why we will never airbrush our models. Ever. 

Nonetheless, I just want to stress that body positivity is not just about dress size and everyone is entitled to their own concerns, whether it is being too short, too tall, having small breasts or large breasts, skin issues, hair issues; the list goes on.

I remember when I first got scouted to model; I distinctly remember turning to the friend I was with, awaiting their response to the scout, who proceeded to ask me if I was listening! It was directed at me! I honestly just remember thinking why on earth would this lady want me to be a model, covered in eczema from head to toe. But she did, and my point is that nobody is perfect, and often one’s body concerns will never be visible to the outside world. 

3.    Who make the clothes for Airbrushed?

ApparelTasker, based in London, are behind the manufacturing for Airbrushed. The eco policies of ApparelTasker are in line with the international standard ISO14001:2015, to ensure that environmental impacts are being measured and improved. Essentially, they are the gold standard of ethical production.

Mia Lewin wearing the Beige Bralette set produced from Econyl

4.     How are you consciously reducing the environmental impacts of your products on the planet?

Although fabrics are of course relevant in a company’s sustainable efforts, their importance is often exaggerated. Reducing the environmental impacts of products is far more than fabrics, it's a culture, and one that Airbrushed Intimates™ is founded on. We are dedicated towards all things environmental; including research into how the sustainable fashion industry is changing (because it constantly is!), design of current and new products, production (which we will forever keep within the UK for quality and to reduce our travel footprint) and packaging (which is, and always will be plastic free). 

5. What have been your personal highlights and challenges of starting an ethical fashion brand?  

The main challenge I faced in starting a sustainable brand was sourcing the trims for manufacturing. I chose CMT manufacturing, which stands for ‘Cut, Make, Trim’ – to ensure that I was able to choose and monitor the whole supply chain of the product from start to finish. However, although sustainable fashion is on the rise, there is still a long way to go in terms of the availability of sustainable fabric and trims and thus the research and ability to source these was most certainly a challenge (to put it lightly!).

A personal highlight of starting an ethical fashion brand was my first sale to a stranger. Of course, I also did a little dance when my best friend ordered a set, but there was just something so special about someone with no attachments to feel the same passion as me. It still gives me Goosebumps!



6.    What are your hopes for the brand?

My hopes for the brand were to show even just one person that the joys of fast fashion, can actually be done slowly, ethically and sustainably. Since the launch, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of our followers and customers, and now my hope is simply to be able to keep doing what I love, and eventually bring all the favourites of the fast fashion industry; but slowly, ethically and sustainably.

7.    Which is your personal favourite set from the collection?

The debut collection is inspired by the extraordinary colours of nature, and thus my personal favourite is the Upcycled Turquoise set, which represents the Blue Footed Booby. The Booby obviously has the most incredible coloured feet, but it also captured my heart after visiting the Galapagos many years back, as they have the most mesmerising dance – I’d highly recommend you to check it out, there is nothing quite like it!

Thank you Mia! 
Be sure to have a look at Mia's colourful debut collection here and on the Airbrushed Intimates Instagram.

Beccy x
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