Never before have we been so conscious of what we buy and its impact on the world. From the slow-food movement to sustainable fashion, we are all striving to be more mindful about what we eat and wear. Austin-based designer Miranda Bennett pretty much embodies this lifestyle with her eponymous line of naturally-dyed women’s wear. The rule-breaking designer chose to ignore the atypical, seasonal industry mold and launched her label in 2006 with small, carefully-designed capsule collections. In the years before she created her first line, she honed her POV while studying fashion design and art history at Parsons School of Design and Eugene Lang College in New York. Designed to be versatile, seamless additions to any woman’s wardrobe, her collections are streamlined with a penchant for clean lines and solid, earthy colors. Basically, every piece is completely seasonless and looks amazing year round. Everything is made-to-order in her studio using natural fabrics and plant-based dyes, and sustainability and ethical production are incorporated into every aspect of the brand. We talked to Miranda about design, sustainable production and the best part of her job.
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"Sustainable production, to me, feels like a non-negotiable. It is just the responsible thing to do."
TAKE US BACK TO THE BEGINNING. HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO MAKING CLOTHES? As a kid, I was always really obsessed with clothing, naming dresses and changing all the time. I’m sure it was a nightmare for my mom. I think the turning point was around 14, when I was offered either a sewing machine or a CD player for my birthday (I know, I am dating myself) and I chose the sewing machine. As a teen I used apparel making as a form of self expression and a creative outlet.
Over time, and through shifts in my line, career and lifestyle, things have crystallized to the current project of Miranda Bennett Studio. Now the focus is on seasonless, elevated go-to apparel, made in natural fibers with primarily plant-based dyes, putting ease of wear and versatility without compromising style at the forefront.
I love that I still get to make my own samples. Doing a first cut and assemblage, then test driving the fit and troubleshooting the design is absolutely crucial to my process and such a big part of why the clothing feels so wearable. I don’t put anything out there that doesn’t hit all the notes for me, from aesthetics to comfort, and I am pretty picky.
WHY WAS WORKING WITH NATURAL DYE AND SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION SO IMPORTANT TO YOU? After years in NYC, though I was still producing in the USA with an off-site seamstress and facilities in the Garment District, I started to feel further and further from the process and core impulse for designing my own collection. The seasonal structure is grueling and makes it very easy to lose touch with the natural patterns of inspiration and design.
Relocating back to Austin, I engaged with natural dyes as a method of reconnecting with textiles, process and hands-on work. The result was so moving to me that I decided to base the collection around an inclusion of plant-dyed textiles where ever possible. It is also is a wonderful way for us to offer something unique to an already over saturated market.
Sustainable production, to me, feels like a non-negotiable. It is just the responsible thing to do. Every decision that we make when we take on the project of creating a business is a choice, and has an impact. Whether it is how you package your goods, where you manufacture, what you do with your remnant fabrics, or if you have recycling in your place of work – none of it is a passive decision and I really strive to be as mindful as possible.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE WORK YOU DO? The biggest privilege that I feel every day is walking in to my studio and being surrounded by my team. I love our seamstresses Becca and Amy; Bridget our Lead Natural Dye Tech is one of my oldest and dearest friends, she has endless patience and a beautiful personality; Ariana, our Director of Production and Distribution has been a total gift, I would be lost without her kindness and hard work; and Alie, our Production and Marketing Assistant has been a wonderful new addition in all areas of studio life, from dyeing to processing orders to marketing. Being able to assemble such a dreamy group of people around this work is still a pinch-me moment for me, and I hope that gratitude never goes away.
IF YOU WEREN’T A DESIGNER WHAT WOULD YOU BE? My family has a long history in education, so I always thought I would be a teacher or guidance counselor.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU ON YOUR DAYS OFF IN AUSTIN? In all honesty, usually home! I am a bit of an introvert at my core, so after a week working and engaging with others, my dream day off is sleeping in, cooking, tending our little herb garden, hanging out with my boyfriend and our animal family, going on a long walk with our dog, William, or going for a swim at Barton Springs pool when the weather is right.
THE BRAND: MIRANDA BENNETT
Top 3 selling styles: The Everyday Dress, the Vision Dress and the Muse Dress.
Something your brand is known for: Our plant-dyed textiles and the perennial Everyday style.
What’s playing on the speakers in your studio: Whatever the gals put on.
Something you’re constantly re-stocking: Our collection is primarily made to order, so fabric and dye materials!
Your brand in 3 words: Elevated go-to apparel.
THE DESIGNER: MIRANDA BENNETT
Your go-to outfit: A jumpsuit from my collection, a flat or wedge (some of my favorites are Intentionally Blank, Charlotte Stone and Rachel Comey), jewelry from friends’ collections and a minimal leather bag.
One thing you can’t live without: My studio team.
Favorite designer: Claire McCardell.
Something you always carry with you: Facial spritz and Balm Dot Com.
Style icon: Georgia O’Keefe.