Sustainable style made to last
It was seeing first-hand the devastating impacts of fast, mass-produced fashion that led Tania Egan and Fleur Grundy to launch their own ethical fashion label.
What the women witnessed while travelling through many regions of Asia, particularly China, inspired them to combine their talents for good and make clothing in a more sustainable way.
The result is Nya – a Surf Coast-based label aptly named after a girl’s name of Gaelic and Swahili origin meaning “purpose”.
Drawing on their extensive design and production experience, they have created a socially conscious and environmentally friendly screen printed clothing made right here in Victoria.
“The idea for Nya came about in 2018 at the end of a gruelling work day in China, where we struggled to breathe through the pollution and cope with the sights we were seeing,” Fleur explains.
“When you go to China and see the enormous scale of the fashion industry (and manufacturing in general) it is mind blowing. You cannot help but see the pollution and devastating damage we as humans are doing to our one and only planet earth.
“We have visited many factories, fabric mills, printing factories, we have seen both good and bad alike; we have seen the toxic blue rivers, the humongous piles of polyester fabrics available at the stock markets churned
out for such a cheap price but that have come at such a cost to our planet and will take 300 years to breakdown.
“The fashion industry alone contributes 10 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
Now the duo who had previously worked together at Rip Curl and Oishi-M, is proud to have established a brand known for its timeless slow fashion and unique prints in bold and bright colours.
Both Fleur and Tania studied at RMIT – Tania studying fashion and Fleur studying textiles – and each brings different skills to the table.
“We are both very different people, complementing each other’s talents and, because our friendship was formed through a working relationship, we can
be very honest and open with each other, always focussing on our shared goal,” Tania says.
“Fleur and I both feel very strongly about why we are doing what we are, using our powers for good to make a difference, and it’s a huge amount of work.
“It would be so much easier to just make clothes that look good like any other brand does, but we need to be authentic to ourselves and our beliefs.
“We never feel like we have the time to cross off all our to-do lists, there is always more that could be done!
“However, being a sustainable business means we must also be sustainable with our work/life balance.”
Nya’s range is screen printed and sewn in Melbourne using natural fibres such as GOTS certified organic cotton and hemp that have low environmental impact.
The brand ethos is to value quality over quantity and to never be a slave to trends.
Nya also aims to be as zero waste as possible, saving their offcuts from landfill and re-purposing remnants into handy accessories.
“We make collectible pieces to be worn season after season, only producing one season per year. If we follow these principles our business is sustainable and we are making a difference by educating people to buy less and buy well,” Fleur says.
“Our product is essentially limited edition. We use post bags derived from corn starch, that are not only re-usable but also home compostable.
“Our print designs are original hand designed artworks, created by Tani, inspired by our love of nature and passion for vintage design, with the current range heavily influenced by our local surrounds of the ironbark basin and the beach.
“We couldn’t bear the thought of throwing the beautifully printed fabric into landfill, so we have come up with a few options, little cosmetic bags, hair scrunchies, sew your own scrunchie kit and we are about to launch meditation masks and last year we were able to re-purpose all excess fabric into face masks.”
The new Summer 21/22 range is made up of the Hightide, Topanga and Dreamscape print collections – each inspired by dreamy shades of colour, found deep in nature near and far, and always with a vintage twist.
The collection features easy wearing skirts, tops, dresses and accessories.
A collaboration with stoneware ceramicist Peta Armstrong has resulted in the signature ‘Alchemy’ prints.
“Peta is a wonderful local Surf Coast ceramicist, who creates the most enticing pieces, that are bold, textured and strong,” Tania says.
“We teamed up with Peta over a year ago about creating some art especially for Nya, that reflects our wild and rugged Surf Coast surroundings.
“Peta used stylised imagery in the Alchemy print that depicts the local wildlife, the bold ochre and clay colours from the Addis cliffs, and the ancient soil is depicted in a deep charcoal ash base.
“We love the way Peta creates carefully considered and timeless art, built to last and be cherished … it sits well with our mission at Nya.”
Nya is a side project for both women who are busy mums with part-time jobs and family commitments. They admit it is a considerable juggle but one they are passionate about.
“There is a huge amount of excitement, enthusiasm and passion that goes into launching a brand like Nya,” Tania says.
“It’s combined with a whole lot of uncertainty, self-doubt and questioning when things don’t go as planned.
“Truly feels like we’re on a rollercoaster ride full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and we are trying to embrace it all, enjoy the journey and see what happens.
“It’s truly a huge learning experience for us both.”
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