Meet the designer on a mission to create eco-friendly garments for all: Miranda Bennett. The owner of ethical clothing brand, Miranda Bennett Studio, specializes in plant dyed apparel and most recently a new line of nail polishes.
Bennett says the evolution of her brand is about twelve years in the making. “My line began in New York and was ethically made in the garment center before dialogue surrounding production practices was a part of the larger conversation surrounding fashion,” says Bennett. “After several years of working that way, I found the mainstream marketing model to be numbing to my creative sensibility. My love of the process behind production was also incredibly malnourished.”
Remaining ethical is a practice that Bennett takes great pride in. She has made her process as “in-house” as possible. “Our natural dye practice is part of our day-to-day work. We visit our manufacturing partners at Open Arms, a social enterprise creating fair wage employment for Austin’s refugee population, on a weekly basis. We cut and process our apparel in-house. So many hands come into contact with the work that we create,” says Bennett.
Even after the clothing is created secondary measures are taken to eliminate waste. For Bennett, becoming a Zero Waste studio is a concept to strive for. “All of our textile waste is now diverted from landfills through multiple programs, donations and textile recycling strategies. Our dyestuff sourcing has now shifted from an emphasis on purchased natural dye extracts to research and development of materials that are the natural by-products of other industries,” says Bennett. We are literally sourcing goods from kitchens and shop floors. After exhaustive use in our dye vats, they are then composted.”
The journey to success was not a straight shot in the beginning. Bennett found herself dealing with an imposter complex, limited financial resources and a quest to find a sense of legitimacy, “Once I had begun to hit my stride, the recession of ’08 hit, and I am not exaggerating when I say that it was an overnight change in the market. Stores that I worked with shuttered at breakneck speed and wholesale business all but dried up,” says Bennett. This period of time was still valuable as it taught her how to be resourceful in the midst of a struggle, “I often think of it as my stone soup time, it was all about making the most with the least amount possible. That has informed so much of how I continue to work” says Bennett. Through every trial and set back, Bennett has come out on top and found a way to make her vision a reality.
If you’re located in Austin, the brand’s first brick and mortar opened November 17th, located at 1211 East 11th Street, Suite 10. The space will showcase the full breadth of the brand story as well as adjacent companies. For those who are not Austinites, you can find Miranda Bennett Studio Apparel at select independent retail partners worldwide or online. •
by: Caitlin Rounds
photography by: Caitlin Rounds
models: Phyllis Gong, Miles Agee, Kristine Wang
Caitlin Rounds is a third-year student studying Public Relations. In addition to being a student, Caitlin is a visual artist, who enjoys visiting cozy coffee shops in Austin.