At the risk of stating the obvious, the clothes we wear matter. And not just in the sense of sartorial splendour and self-expression, but for those across the supply chain and beyond working towards a more sustainable fashion future. To celebrate these creatives putting people and planet first, we’ve introduced a new digital series called Nice Rack! (…get it) so we can go behind the seams with some of our favourite sustainable brands, together.
Aussie undies brand Nala has leapt onto the intimates scene like a lioness on the savanna, promising seriously sustainable underwear that is comfortable, sexy and inclusive. Founding couple Chloe and Phil de Winter eschew boring, neutral-toned knickers, instead opting for bright, vibrant colours in sheer spicy styles. Both size- and gender-inclusive, the flirty fits are ethically made from innovative materials like Bio Butter (fabric made from corn starch) and Flossy Mesh (made from 82% recycled nylon offcuts saved from landfill) that are as soft and comfy on your precious patootie as they aim to be on the planet. We caught up with Chloe to learn more!
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
Let’s be honest… as a whole, the fashion industry is not sustainable. So by creating a new brand, we knew we didn’t want to add to the problem. To me, that means choosing products made from sustainable fabrics (recycled or from renewable sources), recycled packaging and products that are made to last.
I got stuck here without many undies and bras so I went shopping and honestly was so underwhelmed with what I could find!
When did you know you wanted to get into fashion?
I was living in NYC and came back to Australia in February 2020 for a holiday. Remember how the world shut down? Well, I got stuck here without many undies and bras so I went shopping and honestly was so underwhelmed with what I could find! I wanted some pieces that were cool, sustainable and affordable and there wasn’t anything out there. After recognising that there was a gap in the Aussie market for a brand like this, Nala was born. And so was my entry into the fashion world! (I’m actually a physio and pilates teacher!)
Why were you inspired to start Nala and what continues to inspire you as a designer?
Looking at the underwear industry in Australia, it really felt like brands were doing “inclusivity” in a very tokenistic way. We wanted to not only represent Australia’s diverse population through our marketing but also create products that serve a diverse range of bodies and needs. That was inspiring enough! Ongoing, our community inspires me more than anything else – we are constantly listening to what they want and we create our products based on this.
How do you incorporate sustainability/ethical practices within your brand?
Firstly, we create high-quality, expertly-made products that are made to last. That’s the most important part! Also, the factories that we use to produce our underwear all uphold safe and ethical working conditions. We use sustainable fabrics – one of which is made from cornstarch and the other from offcuts that were otherwise destined for landfill – and our packaging is all recycled. Last month we collaborated with Upparel and collected customers’ old bras and underwear to be recycled! This is something we plan to continue in the future.
We wanted to not only represent Australia’s diverse population through our marketing but also create products that serve a diverse range of bodies and needs.
Tell us about any standout moments in your career…
Did you see the giant inflatable boob we floated down the Yarra River in Melbourne in April? After facing countless issues with censorship across TikTok, Meta and Google, we decided to protest it in the best way possible. The campaign went viral online and it’s a day I’ll never forget!
What are your favourite pieces to wear?
I’ve got boobs and am loving going wire-free these days. I reach for the Nala Mesh Comfort Wirefree Bralette which gives me the perfect amount of lift and support, without wire. Or there’s always our Support Wirefree Bralette for days I want to show off my bra just a little… there’s a reason why this bra is viral! When it comes to briefs, I’m obsessed with our Midi Brief and our Classic Gee is the perfect g-string. If there’s one thing I know as a chronic activewear girlie, it’s g-strings! It’s seamless and smooth and is the perfect thickness.
Who are a few of your favourite local designers?
Ohhh so many! A few I’m loving at the moment are SIR, Alemais, Nagnata and Venroy.
What do you think needs to change in the Australian fashion landscape?
Brands need to expand their size curve across their collections. It shocks and saddens me how many brands only go up to a size large in 2023. Australia can do better!