Fusing recycled clothing with traditional Malawian textiles, MIA by Mia Nisbet
is an ethical fashion brand like no other. There are funky upcycling brands and bold African collections but not many that bring the two together whereas MIA by Mia Nisbet does. After spending some time in Malawi Mia Nisbet was inspired by the mix of second-hand clothing and local textiles that Malawians wore. Intrigued by the mix of ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern’ cultures and the contrast between modern and traditional textiles, Mia created her collection upcycling second-hand imported clothing and offsetting this with a bold African print and has showcased at the first Africa Fashion Week London in 2011
, as well as during London Fashion Week in Feb 2012 for her 2012 collection (image below), as well as being an Ethical Fashion Forum Innovation Award
winner. More excitedly is that Mia by Mia Nisbet features in our book Fashion Africa by AFG Founder Jacqueline Shaw
Mia by Mia Nisbet – 2012 collection
Nisbet’s signature ruffles and funky styling transform previously discarded pieces of clothing into fresh, playful ones. Men’s shirts, old T-shirts and sportswear are given a new lease of life with careful tailoring and a little African ‘Kitenge’. Featuring well known western logos such as Adidas and I ‘heart’ NY in many of her designs, Mia playfully emphasizes the upcycled nature of the designs and the contrast between the ideas of ‘African’ and ‘Western’ style.
Working with producers in Malawi, Mia designs and sells her collection to an International fashion market. A proportion of the profits from sales are reinvested in the producer’s local community through training, equipment and infrastructure needed to increase market access and help to develop sustainable livelihoods. Sustainability and style are the foundations of the design concept behind Fashion by MIA.
Malawi, along with many African countries has been flooded with second-hand clothing imports from the West, the majority of these finding their way into the market as unsaleable charitable donations. Although providing a cheap and affordable source of clothing for many people this influx of cheap clothing is also hugely damaging to the local textile industries. Mia uses these markets as a source of inspiration and the basis for her designs. By upcycling and adding her own creative flare she creates employment for local tailors, invigorating the local textile industry in a refreshingly different way.
Main image is Mia Nisbet designs for Bmagazine – Model : Paula Okunzuwa, Photographer copyright: Dariusz Adamek
All other images are the copyright of Mia Nisbet and Mia by Mia Nisbet
Author: Imogen Butler