The vegan fashion landscape has without a doubt evolved in the last few years – but while accessories such as shoes and bags are abundant and easier than ever to find, clothing is a different story. Customers wishing to avoid wool, silk, and other materials commonly found in clothing rather than accessories can still have a tricky time shopping and getting dressed. But a few select, dedicated brands are changing this.
By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert.
One of them is Mila.Vert, a sustainably minded fashion label from Slovenia, focusing on natural, high-quality vegan materials. We had a conversation with founder and CEO Tina Logar Bauchmüller on how the brand came about, its values and journey – and came away with renewed insight into this thoughtful brand.
Like many other founders in the still-nascent area of ethical fashion, Tina's comes from a different background, having studied finances and worked as a business consultant for an IT company. But her passions lied elsewhere: “Even though I enjoyed my job, I had always wanted to work in the creative sector. Fashion design has always been my passion – even in childhood I remember I consulted my grandmother, who had mastered the art of tailoring, as well as local seamstresses to help me carry out my design ideas.”
It was only a matter of time before Tina embarked on taking her passion from dream to reality. “I wanted to create my own brand, to have the freedom to be creative and to be connected to fashion. I also felt inspired by the conversation surrounding sustainability – I see it as a way into a better future for all of us. After the birth of my second daughter in 2015, I felt it was time for the big leap. It was as though my new role as a mother empowered me to take on another new role – that of a fashion designer.”
Starting a sustainable brand meant that Tina had to focus on material innovation in a way that, at the time, could prove tricky. “In the beginning, it was definitely challenging to find the materials that would fit my design ideas I travelled from Slovenia to Germany to a fabric fair in Munich to find the materials for my first collection. When I got there, I realised that what I was looking for simply didn’t exist – I couldn’t find the materials that would fit my sustainability criteria.”
But instead of giving up, Tina flipped the process on its head: “Eight years ago, the range of sustainable materials was limited, or I couldn’t afford to buy hundreds of meters of fabric directly from the producers, so I had to turn the whole process around. I first chose sustainable fabrics that I liked and were available to me, and then I let the fabric inspire me to come up with different designs.” As a result, the brand now works with organic cotton produced in accordance with the highest environmental standards as well as Tencel™, EcoVero™, European linen and other low-impact fabrics, and ensure that workers are paid fairly. All Mila.Vert packaging is plastic-free, and production takes place locally in Slovenia.
Today, Mila.Vert (named after Tina's daughter Mila) offers a curated selection of sustainably made garments, refined in their simplicity, to a consumer who is very clear in Tina's mind: “Our ideal is a woman who’s determined, knows what she wants and won’t let anyone stop her. She’s kind, caring and loving towards others and towards herself. She’s bold, strong, voices her opinion and empowers people around her. She finds comfort in everyday luxuries like a quiet cup of coffee before the world wakes up, the feel of a soft knit on the skin, or the hug of a loved one.”
The brand is part of a greater wave of a sustainably minded shift in fashion: “We say that Mila.Vert designs for those in search of a kinder lifestyle – people who care about timeless designs of great quality, organic fabrics and about ethical, local production. We know that no one is perfect, but this is what everyone can start with being kinder.”
As a founder who balances her business with motherhood, Tina's typical day is full-on: “During the week, I wake up at 6.30, help my family get ready for the day and then my husband takes my two daughters to school. I then either work and have meetings from home or I go to our producers’ sites and to our studio. As our Mila.Vert team is still small, I’m involved with everything and there’s
always something to be done. We also have all-team meetings, product development meetings, fittings, photoshoots. In the afternoon, I collect my daughters from school and take them to their afternoon activities, or we spend a quiet day together at home. There is a forest next to our house and I take a long, relaxing walk there every other day – I have found it calms me down and re-energises me the most.”
By Sascha Camilli
Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
All photos courtesy of Mila.Vert
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