Lilla by Fia
Lilla by Fia is the first business that introduced plant-based dyed clothing to me, more specifically using an avocado pip to dye clothing pink. I mean, I never would have thought an avocado would turn clothing pink, but I guess I also never thought one could use onion skins to dye clothing yet the wonderful Faye Delanty introduced me to that on her insta stories a few months back.
Lilla (pronounced Lil-la) is a small business I’ve admired from a while now. Fia creates clothing that is simplistic, yet practical and transcends those seasonal trends. Lilla is Danish and translates to lilac, mauve or any variation of purple. That said, each season the new range will be introduced in a new colour that’s been made solely from plant dyes, this season it’s all about that avocado pip I was talking about earlier.
All of the garments are made from hemp and organic cotton, which are both at the top of the sustainable fabric pyramid. The fabric is sourced in Western Australia and then manufactured offshore as currently, there are no facilities in Australia that turn hemp into a fibre.
It’s durable, absorbent and softens with wear
The fibre itself requires little water, limited pesticides, and herbicides
Grow at an incredibly fast rate
The organic cotton, in this case, is woven into the hemp to create a more comfortable garment.
As for where the garments are made: Fia has designed, drafted, cut, sewn and hand dyed the current collection herself. Which means that every piece you buy, has been developed, sourced and created with love and care.
Fia has thought so carefully about creating a brand that is both ethically made, and with the environment at heart and it’s incredibly humbling and exciting to see.The scraps that are created once a pattern is cut, are used as the clothes tags, with the smaller pieces used as swing tags. The screen printing is created locally in Australia using eco-friendly inks and the business cards and swing tags are printed on recycled paper using plant-based inks.
Fia has created a conscious label that I completely love. She has taken a step back to deep dive on every aspect that goes into creating a garment and making sure that anything she creates in done so with the consciousness that is needed to tread the earth with as little impact as possible.
Behind the Brand:
An interview with Sofia Tomkins, the founder of Lilla by Fia.
What made you start Lilla By Fia?
I am currently studying fashion design on the Sunshine Coast. We had a unit last year based on sustainability and were encouraged to watch the film The True Cost – I would highly recommend. I was faced with the effects fast fashion has on the environment, workers and local communities across the world. By this stage, I had to rethink my own ethics but I wanted more. I wanted to change the way people perceive fashion and give them an alternative, slow fashion.
That’s how Lilla by Fia began. I wanted to create awareness and educate people. We need to demand transparency within our supply chain in order to help these local worker and the fragile eco system we live in.
What is something others wouldn't know about starting a conscious business that you think they should?
The time and effort it takes to create a garment. It takes hours of designing, pattern making, toiling and sewing. Some people are so disconnected from the design and construction process, they tend to forget an actual person has created the garment. I think the most difficult thing I find is people don’t appreciate the effort that goes into each garment. The price reflects the materials and time spent into creating a garment but the overheads are a huge part of the cost which allows myself to keep creating garments in Australia.
What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?
As I said above, finding the support from locals who want to support and appreciate the effort that goes into a garment. I find most people like the concept but just don’t have the money. I find if you buy quality over quantity then you can justify the price.
Within the ethical fashion community, there's a big question that we ask which is 'Who made my clothes?', in the scope of Lilla by Fia, who made your clothes?
I create all my own clothes from designing, pattern making, grading, cutting, sewing, finishing and tagging. I sell Lilla garments at local markets, in particular Peregian Beach Markets on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. I am a young designer trying my best to make the world a better place, that’s all.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
Be humble. If you stick to your ethics with the environment in mind and aren’t persuaded by cheap and/or poor quality materials then I think you’re doing pretty well.
One tip you'd give to others who are wanting to start their own business?
My advice is to start small and slowly grow your idea or business. If you believe in your product and tackle the situation with a positive yet realistic attitude, there is nothing stopping you. As long as you work hard and dedicate yourself, anything is possible.
Where do you envision Lilla by Fia in the future?
I hope to continue creating ethical and sustainable clothing for Lilla by Fia. I want to educate people on the impacts of fast fashion. I want to create awareness, I want to help prevent fast fashion altogether, if it’s possible.
What or who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
The environment. I do what I do for the love of fashion but also thinking of my impact I have on the environment. I use hemp because it’s durable, absorbent and softens with wear. The fibre requires little water, limited pesticides and herbicides, and grows as a fast rate.
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
I don’t have a set routine but I wake up early, enjoy breakfast and start the day with a clear mind.
One book everyone should read? Why?
I’m not a huge reader, I don’t have the time. I read books only on holidays but the latest book I received is called ‘Marrakech by design’ which was inspired by a recent trip to Morocco. It is filled with lovely natural dye colours, architecture, hand embroidery and beautiful Moroccan rugs.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
I just did a shoot with Brooke Elizabeth Photography and she is wonderful to work with. The shoot was a collaboration with Woven Palm by Kim Bexton who hand makes her own shoes. The designs are unique and the quality of her work is amazing. I’m in love with what she is creating!