It’s not easy to build a fashion brand, even less so a sustainable one, but there are many talented young designers doing it. With passion, decisiveness, creativity and sustainable vision they are doing a great job, not just in building their own sustainable brands successfully, they are also inspiring others and the entire fashion industry to make a move towards more sustainable practices. We are proud to work with many of them, and just recently we’ve chatted with Diana Auria, founder of sustainable swimwear AURIA.
We met her during a visit of ECONYL® facilities in Slovenia where she came to show behind the scenes stories of our sustainable ECONYL® yarn while taking over the Selfridges Snapchat account for a day. AURIA is one of this year’s Selfridges’ Bright New Things, a talent platform focusing on sustainability. This year the focus is on designers who are making innovative and beautiful products in a clean, transparent way.
AURIA brand was built on coexistence of style and sustainability. The founders believe it’s all about the choices they make, as consumers as well as designers. By making sustainable choices throughout the process, from sourcing materials to paying close attention to every step of the supply chain, they’ve built a truly sustainable brand. Although small fashion brands don’t have big market shares, they can have a great impact on the fashion market by inspiring other designers and using their voices to share the sustainability messages.
Diana’s sustainability journey started at the University
Diana was drawn to a sustainable fashion while studying at London University. At London College of Fashion, where she was specializing in lingerie and swimwear design, they were given a lot of live briefs from real fashion brands and one of them caught her attention. Speedo gave the students the fabric from their surplus LZR swimsuits, which had been banned by the swimming world’s governing body Fina in 2009, to upcycle it into another product.
Diana ended up winning the competition and showing her monokini, made from men’s swimming shorts, on a world tour. “It was really amazing to see one product, which would be just thrown away, getting a new life,” says Diana. When she was doing her graduate work, she was already convinced if she ever made her own brand, she would do it in the most sustainable way. While she was looking for a sustainable swimwear fabric, which at that time looked like quite an impossible task, Carvico, Italian swimwear and lingerie fabric producer, introduced her to a new sustainable nylon fabric, made from ECONYL® yarn, 100% regenerated from waste materials. Material with the same characteristics and the same bright colors options as the one made from oil, but sustainable. She was excited to use it and to bring something new to the sustainable fashion conversation. Her graduate collection of sustainable swimwear even won the fashion innovation award at the University’s graduate fashion week.
All parts came together incredibly well: her flattering swimwear design, a sustainable fabric, and connections of her flat mate at that time, which helped introduce awarded AURIA swimwear collection in the showroom of sustainable fashion at the London Fashion Week. A new sustainable swimwear brand AURIA was born, just 2 weeks after Diana’s graduation.
Learning all the time
The difficult parts came later, when she was to run the business. The most difficult was setting up the production. She made some mistakes, she admits, however, she doesn’t regret starting a business so early. She believes you can learn a lot from mistakes and learn as you go. Internet is a great tool for learning, Diana says.
Collaborating with other designers
AURIA collections are inspired by the time Diana grew up — 90s pop culture, bright colors and prints, super models — but also from travel and her hometown London. Each season they do a different print theme, many of them in collaboration. The latest is with a London designer Ashley Williams. Her fishing nets designed fabric fits superbly with ECONYL® story.
Diana’s advice to young designers who want to start a new sustainable brand
“Do your research really well and learn all the time. Create with a vision in mind, believe in it and stay with it all the way,” Diana advises young designers who want to start a sustainable fashion brand. Experience in fashion industry is also important. Diana got it while studying at the University, but if education programs don’t include practice in the fashion industry it is advisable to go and work in the fashion industry for at least a year — that is the best place to learn the basics.
When young sustainable brands are ready to go to market, Diana advises them to use the internet, and especially social media. Nowadays, technology gives young small brands the same opportunities as big brands when trying to reach the customers.
The power of online influencers: when Rihanna’s best friend Melissa Forde posted a photo of Rihanna wearing AURIA bikini on Instagram, the brand got incredible exposure.
The time is right to start a sustainable fashion brand
We hope the story of AURIA inspires you to join the sustainable fashion revolution. If you want to start a sustainable fashion brand, time is on your side. Sustainable fashion is already important, and even more so in the future, Diana Auria believes.