Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
In less than a year of existence, sustainable intimates brand Botanica Workshop, has already accomplished an unexpected major milestone; visual artist Linder Sterling, one of designer Misa Miyagawa biggest inspirations (there's even a piece named for her in the Fall 2015 collection), declared herself a supporter. And she's not the only one. Ultra cool retailers like American Rag Cie and Highland Park's brand new Nonna are currently stocking Botanica's pretty organic cotton and silk georgette pieces.
High-waisted briefs, longline bralettes, and silk slips are among the brand's current staples and—as the name would imply—nature influences the color palette each season. We recently got our hands on the Autumn/Winter collection, which boasts the cozy underthings in shades like Persimmon, Petal, and Cinder, as well as a sneak peek of Spring 2016 which utilizes turmeric dye for its canary-colored pieces (sign us up for the georgette silk bralette please and thank you!). We also got a chance to speak with Miyagawa about why she's inspired by her native Los Angeles, Botanica's eco-friendly processes, and what she dreams for the future of her budding brand.
How did you make your way into intimates?
Post graduation, I had several different jobs in the industry that made me really question my identity as a designer and my career goals. During the recession I took on lots of gigs to pay the bills: designing mass market PVC wallets, working as a technical designer on digital garment patterns, managing an e-commerce site—jobs that made me forget why I wanted to work in fashion in the first place. I worked as a womenswear designer for a few years before realizing that I wanted my work to focus on sustainable design. I don't have any formal training in intimates and had never related to the point of view of designer lingerie brands. At that point most of my personal wardrobe was "recycled" or vintage, and underwear was the one thing that I wanted to invest in but I couldn't find any sustainable products that I was excited about at the time. Development commenced and I launched the first Botanica Workshop collection about a year later.
Sustainability is a huge focus for your brand. In what ways is Botanica Earth-friendly?
Each collection starts with better sourcing, which is the foundation for our brand. We generally use three types of materials and supplies in our collection:
- GOTS certified organic cotton grown in the USA when possible under strict domestic standards, always from an American fabric mill
- silk: one of the strongest and most coveted natural fabrics, which stands the test of time over many seasons and is suitable for many types of climates
- reclaimed fabric and trims, which would otherwise be discarded (using materials that already exist/not expending more energy and using "waste" instead)
All our garment production is done within 15 miles of our studio. Currently, all products are made to order which means that there is careful calculation at every stop and less waste of materials. Some of our products are undyed or use natural dyes (turmeric), and the rest are dyed using low impact methods. In terms of design, the silhouettes are meant to be seasonless. With proper care, the products will last for many years to come. We suggest hand washing in cold water and air drying. We try to have a smaller carbon footprint by utilizing public transportation as much as possible and not shipping overseas unless it's to a retailer.
What about living in LA inspires your collections?
The greatest thing about living in LA in general has been meeting so many inspiring creators around me—in particular, artists, chefs, and other designers. Living in any big city can feel competitive, but somehow I feel that working in LA allows a certain amount of risk taking and failure in my creative process that is important. It's something that I have never felt comfortable with elsewhere. Somehow I feel that there's more potential to create in this environment—maybe it's in the air, or the tacos.
Who are a few local designers you're loving right now?
Today I'm planning to head over to Dream Collective to check out their Fall jewelry and hopefully take a peek at their new home line. Fall is my favorite "fashion season" and I'm looking forward to colder weather so I can break out my hand knit alpaca sweater from KKIBO! I'm also coveting some chic rib knits from Maria Dora—her cashmere pieces would be so perfect paired with our new season slips (we are drawn to similar color palettes)! Hopefully sandal weather will continue for a bit during the seasonal transition, since I've been meaning to get a pair of slides from The Palatines too.
Botanica Workshop is still such a young company. What do you see on horizon for the brand in terms of expansion?
We have grown so much even in the past 6 months (when we participated in our first trade show)—we are constantly expending and adjusting to new challenges. At this point we're still establishing where we stand in the market and what our customers are looking for. Our goal for the next few months is to form a stronger relationship with our end customer, which has been challenging since we are only doing wholesale at the moment. We've been planning to open an online shop for a while but want to wait until we can get the details right. We participated in a couple of direct to customer events earlier in the year and are hoping to do another round before the holidays. Next month I'm traveling to show our Spring & Summer 2016 collection at Who's Next in Paris and Market 194 in New York, which I'm hoping will open some new doors for us.
Read more about Botanica Workshop, including a full list of local retailers on the brand's website here.