Meet sustainable fashion designer Misha Nonoo
Fashion designer Misha Nonoo is pioneering a radically different future for fashion — one that’s committed to sustainability, community and female empowerment.

What makes you feel the most wild and alive?

I love to exercise and work hard to eat well, keeping my diet as natural as possible. This, along with an occasional matcha latte, gives me the energy to run my company while enjoying being a new mum. I also quarantined in southern California and really enjoyed the beaches and hiking trails when I wanted to get some fresh air and spend time outdoors.

How did you go from working for a tailor in New York to designing your own pieces and launching your own label?

After I finished university in Paris, I moved to New York and started an apprenticeship in the city’s Garment District. This taught me the importance of exceptional tailoring and gave me invaluable hands-on experience. I spent my free time creating my own designs in my apartment. One day I met some girlfriends for brunch and a stranger complimented me on my jacket. I told her it was my own design and coincidentally, she was a buyer at the boutique department store Intermix. She ended up ordering an entire collection, and my brand was born.

Your brand has a strong sustainability focus. Was it always your mission to create ethically made, low-waste garments and have you faced any hurdles along the way?

Because sustainability was always important to me in my personal life, I quickly became irritated with the amount of waste the fashion industry creates. In 2017, I upended my entire supply chain and created an on-demand model. This means as every order is placed, each individual garment is cut and sewn. This method reduces garment waste — the largest source of pollution in the industry — by 90 per cent. It wasn’t without its difficulties, but we didn’t stop innovating which has resulted in a system that works perfectly for us.

Your garments are made in a woman-owned factory in Shenzhen, China. How important is championing the industry’s female workforce to you?

We create clothing to empower women, so we work hard to uphold this mission through various aspects of our company. We keep it in mind every step of the way, from picking women-owned factories to contributing a portion of sales to organisations like Black Girl Ventures, an ecosystem of black/brown women creating access to social and financial capital.

Tell us about your design approach. What goes into creating each new piece?

Because our pieces are very much building blocks of a capsule wardrobe, versatility is always a big consideration in my designs. I aim to create pieces that can be worn for endless occasions and will be a timeless addition to women’s wardrobes. Small details and tailoring are also very important in our pieces to create those elevated “basics”.

As if you saw the pandemic writing on the wall, you were one of the first designers to host a virtual fashion show. What inspired you to break from the traditional model?

While many brands have been showing their collections digitally out of necessity, I did this years ago because it was the most innovative way to give my customers access to a showcase. Showing a collection that wouldn’t be available for six months was an archaic model to me. I thought the most democratic and modern approach to style was to give my consumers the first look and let them immediately purchase what they loved.

Your Husband Shirt has had some famous wearers, including Meghan Markle. Tell us who the Misha Nonoo woman is?

Our customer is a dynamic woman who needs a sophisticated, comfortable wardrobe that takes her from 9am to 9pm and is prepared for everything that happens in between. We call her a “WoMN On the Go”. She needs to look polished in a business meeting but still feel feminine at cocktail hour or be able to easily throw on some trainers before heading to her child’s football match. I’m constantly inspired by these women and everything they accomplish in both their professional and personal lives.

You recently became a mother; how has that transformed your outlook as a woman in this world?

It’s made me even more in awe of working mothers everywhere. Being a working mother is such a delicate balancing act and now that I’m experiencing it for myself, I’m so impressed with my peers who have raised families while simultaneously building incredible careers for themselves.

Tell us about something you have encountered recently that has inspired you.

I’m feeling very inspired by the idea of accessorising in new and different ways to prolong the life of your wardrobe. People just aren’t using jewellery, handbags or shoes in the same way they were before social distancing. We wanted to find a way to breathe new life into your Husband Shirt, so we teamed up with New York-based accessories brand Fry Powers to create colourful sets of interchangeable Husband Shirt studs.

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