This week Pildora visited zero-waste fashion designer Malaika Haaning at her home and studio in New Jersey. Upon arriving to her studio, I was pleasantly surprised by the towering green trees and became immersed in nature, a feeling that is rare to come across in the streets of New York. As I entered the door, I was greeted by her amiable cat. We commenced our interview and I went on to fall in love with Malaika’s approach to not only sustainable design but also her outlook on life.
Born in Denmark, Malaika made her way to the US in 2006 to pursue a career in fashion and start a new chapter of her life in New York City. After working for 10 years in logistics and traveling the world, Malaika developed a passion for other cultures and fashion design. It was time for a change. She was accepted to Parsons School of Design where she took her first sustainable design class, which focused on zero-waste techniques. She was instantly inspired by the concept of creating designs with minimal waste and launched her eponymous brand on Earth Day 2016 with the mission to design sustainably.
Malaika New York is a sustainable fashion brand with a mission to eliminate environmental degradation by utilizing minimal or zero waste patterns while maximizing wear-ability. Inspired by architecture, her garments are multi-dimensional, edgy, and sleek. With a futuristic yet modern style, Malaika’s brand goal is to produce a contemporary line that is in-trend now and will continue to be for many years to come.
Malaika and Sustainability
Like Pildora, Malaika believes that integrating sustainability into your life, even just a little each day, can help create a positive impact. She is a firm believer in a continuous process of approaching sustainability and explains that it can be integrated into various aspects of your life.
Malaika’s modern design aesthetic is influenced by architectural shapes and is informed by the possibilities of even the smallest pieces of fabric scraps, bike tires, plastic bags…you name it! Her designs are brought to life by structural construction while using sustainable materials such as recycled fishing nets, recycled polyester, hemp, and bicycle tubes. The highly versatile pieces are easily incorporated into a modern wardrobe.
When sourcing materials Malaika looks for locally made materials or more sustainable fabric options. She pays close attention to her brand’s carbon footprint and works with vendors who are both transparent and ethical in their production cycle.
I left Malaika’s home feeling inspired. As I traveled home on the NJ transit I imagined a future with brands like Malaika and individuals that challenge themselves to be different and innovative in order to solve our Earth’s problems. While Malaika imagines a future without waste, I imagine a future where people and brands like Pildora and Malaika can come together and share our tools, knowledge, and creativity to solve critical problems and create a positive impact.
Photos by Hansel Huang