MIINA LAITSAARI Fashion is a wonderfully frivolous pleasure we all enjoy. But in an age where the collective conscience is so often concerned with how to create sustainability, it can be hard to know where to buy. We caught up with Finnish-born Miina Laitsaari, an independent London-based designer with sustainability at the core of her collection – second only to style of course.
Written by Charlotte Walsh Photography by Tommi Kirvesniemi, Pihla Liukkonen, Markus Väisänen
The genesis story behind Miina’s collection is one of greatness. “It started when I did my thesis on this small Finnish brand [IPIK Design] and they asked me to design a little collection of zero waste garments. From then on I got really into sustainable fashion and reducing waste in production. When I started studying fashion I didn’t really think about sustainability, but during my studies I learnt that it’s the second most polluting industry in the world.”
That’s right, fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, with oil being the first. During our interview, Miina revealed a surprising revelation about the textile industry’s production process: “If you buy a t-shirt that costs £3.99, there has to be something wrong with the production chain – something we often might not think about.” She also addressed that “it’s easy to buy a dress for just ten or twenty pounds, and you don’t necessarily think much about what you’re purchasing. But if the dress costs more, you might give what you’re buying a second thought before making a final purchase.” There’s an increasing number of ethical brands popping up in response to information about waste and pollution in the fashion industry. Miina commented on this, saying: “I think every ethical brand has a mission and it’s the same mission; to make people aware of how exploitative the fashion industry can be, and how to become more conscious of eco-made clothing.”
Miina also advises people not to get suckered in by what brands say about themselves, and warns us to watch out for vagueness: “I want to be very specific about what I do because there’s a lot of ‘greenwashing’… i.e. trying to
make your brand look more sustainable than it really is. I use lots of pre and post-consumer waste, like second hand jeans, curtains, table cloths… and then I dye them myself. I choose good quality fabrics so that you don’t see that it’s second hand fabric. The production process takes a lot longer even if the materials are cheaper, but the end product is high quality clothing from upcycled materials, with very little waste.”
As a fashion designer, Miina is strikingly driven: “I’ve always thought that I don’t want to work for other people in fashion, I want to build my own brand.” More power to her for doing it sustainably. Her designs are inspired by a mix of edgy rock ‘n’ roll, clean lines and geometrical patterns. This designer’s unique style is certainly a continuous thread throughout every single design: edgy, monochrome pieces that are flamboyant yet wearable.
When asked what advice she has for someone looking to shop more sustainably, Miina says: “Buy less, buy second hand and support the small brands trying to work ethically and change the fashion industry by being responsible.” Solid advice.
Check out Miina Laitsaari’s eco-friendly designs on her website, the ASOS Marketplace, or Weecos – a Finnish sustainable fashion website.