We're thrilled to welcome New York City-based designer Nia Thomas, and her ethically-made pieces, to the Idun family. Since launching her brand in 2018, Thomas has created vibrant pieces with an emphasis on Mother Earth, using plant-based materials and recycled fabric. Plus, Thomas plants a tree for every garment sold.
Her pieces are joyful, they're forever and they move with your body. They're beautiful now and will be beautiful years from now.
We asked Nia a few questions about her background, her brand and what's next for her. You'll love her; we do.
Give us the quick rundown: what’s your background and how do you identify as a designer?
I’m so excited to be at Idun, thank you for having me! I identify as a designer who believes in making work that is revolutionary in sustainable ethics and social commentary about the times we live in. What I design is very autobiographical in a way about the current place I am in my life. What’s resonating with me in my designs currently is a need for comfort and versatility. I love transition pieces that I can wear to back-to-back business meetings in Barcelona, running around the NYC garment district sourcing fabrics for my factory, or having a delicious dinner and mezcal with friends on the Mexican coast.
You’ve described your work as “anti-fashion industry.” What do you mean by that, and what does that mean for your production process?
Being “anti-fashion industry” to me includes not participating in the toxic cycle that is the current fashion industry in regards to overproduction, exploitation of garment artisans, producing pieces with unsustainable resources and dismissing a garment's lifecycle. I don’t think it's responsible to keep pumping out billions of new clothing every year at the rate that we are when we can’t figure out a proper lifestyle for these garments and thus they are ending up in landfills and our precious bodies of water all over the world. The way I combat this obstacle is by making smaller, more intimate amounts of pieces that I truly believe in while heavily researching about how they will recycle back into the earth. I feel that most people in the fashion industry aren't forward thinking in this way or just greenwash their products with false marketing and that's where many of the problems lie.
You’re very transparent about the true cost to make a garment ethically, with everyone in your supply chain making fair wages. By educating the consumer about the realities of ethical fashion, what are you hoping for?
When I was growing up, every August my parents would take my sister and me school shopping. We would save and buy valuable essentials like one good coat, a nice sweater, two pairs of sturdy jeans and one pair of well made boots. We would wear these for the entire year and many times even longer unless we outgrew last year's items. My parents instilled in me to always invest in quality over quantity.
Nowadays people don’t want to make investments in their clothing because fast fashion is cheap, easily accessible and trend driven. If people stopped investing in fast fashion but started investing in high quality timeless clothes they wouldn’t need to shop as often. The glamorization of overconsumption is egregious. I am transparent about my process so people can comprehend that they are investing in well made quality garments they can wear for 20+ years, pass down to their children and know that it was made with the utmost care and high class materials. My artisans and I work incredibly hard and deserve to pay ourselves fairly for the countless hours we pour into producing each and everyone of our pieces by hand.
"The glamorization of overconsumption is egregious."
How do you want people to feel while wearing your pieces?
I want them to feel like goddesses flying down from the sky, almost like an airbender, representing all of the earth's most powerful elements: air, water, fire. A spiritual and sensual energy pulsing through them that creates confidence. A feeling of an ethereal being that embodies self love in its highest form. This type of vibrancy creates a powerful glow that I see light up when people wear Nia Thomas.
What are you currently…
Women who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. It is basically a spiritual Bible for women and reminds me of fairy tales for adults.
I am encouraged by all of the strangers that reach out to me after they purchase something of mine saying how they feel the magic in my pieces. They feel so special and comfortable when they wear them and are inspired to live their best lives in them. I feel so proud and encouraged to keep going when I read these types of praises from people all over the world whom I admire.
People’s lack of compassion towards migrants and refugees. The ignorance around this is absolutely egregious. I think many people don’t comprehend that a refugee is also a human being fighting for a better life. Kindness matters.
Kara-Lis Coverdale’s music. Specifically the song Touch Me & Die off their Afertouches album. This music is great for meditation, dropping into a creative process, listening to at the end of the day to unwind from the craziness of the day, and dancing. I love music and sounds that make me feel a variety of emotions every time I listen to it.
I’m constantly tripping over a healthy work/life balance. It is so necessary to take steps back when it all feels overwhelming to look at the work I produce with fresh rested eyes. Running a sustainable brand isn’t possible if I don’t have a sustainable lifestyle that includes self care and boundaries with my career.
Sweet, plump, juicy cherry tomatoes picked ripened and straight off the vine in my garden.
SHOP: Josephine Bodysuit // Ailey Pant // Misty Bralette