Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.


October 22nd, 2013

Fashion Made in Malawi – MIA by Mia Nisbet – SS14 Collection – DESIGNER

We recently came across the latest collection from ethical label MIA by Mia Nisbet and wished to share it with you.

Always original and always with great looking campaigns we believe designer Mia Nisbet continues to spread the word for African made and sourced fashion. Regardless of a recent run in with a gun in a cafe in Malawi this didn’t stop Scottish born Mia to continue her work with her Malawi tailors and this hasnt changed her love of the country which has practically become a home away from home for her.

Mia originally studied at Glasgow School of Art in 2003 going on to develop her skills as in-house designer for Japanese designer Michiko Koshino. By 2005 she was designer in charge of the Soviet label at USC and launched her own ethical label MIA by Mia Nisbet in 2008. Almost immediately the label attracted major awards. In particular: winner of the prestigious Make Your Mark in Fashion Award 2008 for ethical fashion design during London Fashion Week and also winner of the Ethical Fashion Forum Innovation Award 2009.

For Mia ethical and sustainable fashion is “a term to describe ethical fashion design and production. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production and the environment”. MIA by Mia Nisbet fuses recycled fabrics and traditional Malawian textiles to produce a collection that combines the richness of African textiles with Western styling. The street markets in Malawi sell large volumes of second-hand clothing imported from the US, Europe and elsewhere. This cheap second hand clothing has made it very difficult for locally produced clothing to compete in the local market.

Mia describes upcycled fashion as “Up-cycled fashion is more than recycling clothing. It involves a whole process of deconstruction, re design and reconstruction. An up- cycled garment will utilise an old dis-guarded garment and give it a completely new lease of live as a completely reinvented garment.” (interview with Adam Marc Williams)

Mia works with producers in Malawi to create ranges which turn this challenge into an opportunity. Collections are designed and marketed to an international fashion market. Profits are reinvested in communities in Malawi as well as in the training, equipment and infrastructure needed to increase market access and create sustainable livelihoods.

On advising other new designers she says (in the same interview)

My advise is to be fully prepared. Research the market, understand what it takes to manage a fashion brand. I worked 6 years in the fashion industry gaining invaluable experience before I launched my own label. I would highly recommend this avenue. Before you launch make sure your debut collection is coherent and well planned. It takes hard work and determination but is an incredibly rewarding career path.

We love just how her creativity shows through in her designs and she obviously has a great following too! You can purchase her products worldwide at stores FabfiveTokyo, Fox & Bhut, Junky Styling (London), LF Stores (Los Angeles) and The Zoo (Dubai). She is also selling via Asos Marketplace too so look for her product there too.

But for now check out her recent collection here for SS14

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Lookbook S/S 2014 Photography by Adam Marc Williams Studio Shoot Photography by Luke Corbiére



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