We’re launching our first interview in a series of meeting the designers and makers behind IMBY’s pieces. Today we are chatting with Julia Ahrens, owner and designer of Miakoda.
Miakoda is based in New York, and manufactures all their garments right here in the big apple. We love Miakoda’s dedication to vegan fashion, comfortable loungewear, and versatility.
Julia Ahrens, co-owner and designer, Miakoda
Hey Julia! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Hey! I’m Julia Ahrens and I’m the co-owner and designer behind Miakoda. I went to Parsons School of Design for college. While studying, I worked for various designers such as Zach Posen and Club Monaco.
What inspired you to start Miakoda?
Towards the end of my studies at Parsons I went vegan and started practicing yoga. The way I viewed the world shifted dramatically. I began to be more conscious about the impact my actions have on the planet. The fashion industry isn’t always the most compassionate of industries (when you think about leather, sweatshops, pesticide use, etc.). I love to design and wanted to use it as a vehicle to open people’s eyes to the truths of the industry. As much as a piece of clothing might be “cute,” if it’s harming the planet and the people who make it, is it truly beautiful? I decided to start Miakoda as a way to give consumers more options that they could feel beautiful (inside and out) wearing.
Why is American manufacturing important to you?
One of the reasons American manufacturing is so important to me is that it allows me to visit my factories regularly. I get to make sure that the work environment is good for the workers and that they are treated well. It also created jobs in America, which is so important to me.
How did you choose the factories you work with?
Since starting Miakoda I’ve worked with two factories. They are both amazing. They treat their workers great, they are fabulous to work with. The reason that I choose to pursue the current factory that I work with is that they help and encourage me to expand, they are fabulous to communicate with, the factory is clean and beautiful (important for a good work environment), and they are located in Brooklyn (so I can always get a parking spot when I go to pick up production!).
What does ethical fashion mean to you, and how has that changed, if at all, since you launched Miakoda?
Ethical fashion means clothing that doesn’t hurt anyone/anything—meaning animals, people, or our planet. It means that the person wearing it can feel proud to spend their dollars on the clothing they purchase. It means that design and ethics are equally important.
How do the Miakoda collection pieces serve as ideal capsule wardrobe pieces– making getting dressed easy?
I think the key to a good capsule wardrobe is picking pieces that you feel comfortable in and enjoy wearing. Miakoda is designed with comfort as a key component, making it perfect for you to want to wear frequently!
What’s your favorite thing about working with multiple retailers?
I love seeing how other retailers style my designs. It thrills me to see customers that have bought from my retailers wearing Miakoda. I also love making new friends who care about the same things I care about. Working with multiple retailers has allowed me to connect to so many more people who share my morals and values, especially as they apply to fashion and design.
Tell us something about you that we never would have guessed.
The first business I ever started was with one of my best friends in middle school selling homemade lip balms and lip glosses!
What questions do you have for Julia? Comment below or on Instagram!
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