Sustainability And What It Means To Me
Look good. Feel good. Do good.
When I started Mien Studios, I wanted to do better. Having been in the apparel industry as a designer for over a decade, I understood that building a sustainable brand would be a challenge and as a small and self-started endeavor, also an expensive commitment - but it was the path I wanted to take. I know what fierce competition can make a clothing brand do: over-produce, compete on pricing instead of quality - which always end up short-changing the workers and hurting the environment. It's clear now that things don't have to be that way. More and more of us, makers and consumers, are realizing that it's better to buy more consciously. We dress ourselves and fill our closets with quality instead of quantity.
To be a sustainable and ethical brand is a multi-faceted undertaking. Every component of my brand, from design, sourcing, manufacturing, and sales, is set up so I can be as responsible as I can every step of the way. The process can't be perfect from the start, but I am working towards it every day.
Because What Your Wear Makes A Difference
My entire collection is designed by me, then cut, sewn, and dyed by small factories I partner with in Los Angeles. I know every person involved in the making of my line. We work hand in hand to produce every single piece you buy and we're proud of it. To watch the line grow over these past couple of years is very rewarding to not just me, but all of us involved in the process. I enjoy getting to know the people who help bring my designs to life and I'm there at the factories often. I work directly with the owners of these production houses - owners who actually also do the work themselves and manage very small teams who specialize in small-batch production so the quality of my final product is very high. Fair pay, clean and safe working environments, regular lunch hour and breaks, these all contribute to an ethical manufacturing process that ensures that when you buy from Mien, you help create good jobs that support local communities and families like mine.
Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.
Fabric is the foundation of a great garment. Our customer-favorite Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton fabric is custom knit to order in Los Angeles with exact specifications. Organic cotton is grown without toxic pesticides and fertilizers. This beautifully soft and thick fabric is the most used in my line. My next preferred fabric is the wonderfully substantial cotton twill fabric, which isn't certified organic (I'm still searching) but is sourced and purchased from a family-owned fabric house here in L.A. As Mien's collection grows, more environmentally-friendly fabrics will be introduced in styles to offer you more variety and options. I'm not in a hurry to grow the line quickly and flood it with options. Instead, I'd rather offer you a collection that is done well, made with fabrics that I've worked with for a long time that I trust and love.
WHY I USE SPANDEX
I debated for a long time at the beginning if I wanted to include spandex in my fabrics. Unlike natural fibers, spandex is not eco-friendly but I know from experience as a designer, and a busy mother whose clothes and her kid's clothes need to stand up to busy lives, that a touch of spandex greatly extends not only the comfort of a garment, but also the durability and versatility of an item of clothing. It's impossible in our everyday life to avoid plastic entirely or live a completely environmentally harmless lifestyle by forgoing modern conveniences. So instead, we should consume with consideration. Because of the inclusion of spandex, your Mien garment now last longer, feels more comfortable, and can stretch to fit your body shape even if you go through pregnancy - making it wearable pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, postpartum, and nursing. Because of the added spandex, you can now take one single garment through the many stages of motherhood instead of purchasing many items of clothing to wear for short periods of time. The inclusion of a small bit of spandex helps us buy less and extends the life of one product significantly, therefore it's a good choice to me.
It costs more to be responsible as an apparel brand. It costs more to make things in Los Angeles, one of the highest living costs cities in the world. Things such as sourcing locally, using premium eco-friendly fabrics, paying workers fair wages, partnering with local dye houses that use safe dyes - every step of this manufacturing process costs more and is more complex because the factories I work with are all independently operated. From the start, I choose to not follow the fashion calendar which requires producing five collections a year. I prefer to release new styles one or two at a time when they are ready and make them in very limited small batches. This means my brand will grow more slowly at the start, but I'd rather do things the right way. For a premium quality, locally made brand, I can't keep up nor compete in pricing with mass fashion brands and I don't want to. I believe my customers know that every piece in Mien's line gives them more value in return because they are taking home something that is made with care by people who are not exploited, looks better, lasts longer, with a story behind it, and its creation was kinder to the environment. We can help change the world in our own way, by purchasing one thoughtfully-made garment at a time.