AFTER EIGHT CONVERSATIONS: Minnie Jo From Cult Melbourne Label Aaizél.
By Emma Petterwood
Designed and made in Melbourne, Aaziél has emerged as the darling of sustainable fashion both at home and abroad.
With a strong sense of purpose and a deep connection to their values, Aaizél considers social and environmental impact with every collection and each aspect of their business. Sustainability is not an afterthought but an integral part of the brand’s DNA.
Creative Director Minnie Jo designs with strong focus on structured silhouettes and undone styling, sharpened with a contemporary edge.
Coming to the close of their exclusive collection with Net-a-Porter, Aaizél is joining After Eight for the release of their SS21 collection. Reminiscing on her last journey through Spain, the collection is inspired with a symphony of imagination, earthy textures and a warm colour palette.
We spoke with Minnie about her brand, finding inspiration, and the role of sustainability as a driving change for our future.
Me: We want to know the ‘why’ behind what you do. What drives you?
Minnie: I find design or any form of art the most liberating way of expressing myself. Fashion has always been something that’s imaginative, expressive, interactive and exciting for me to engage in, whether it be choosing fabrics, designing, castings or styling. Every process involved in putting together a collection is fulfilling and motivating for me not only because of the end result but there’s always something new I learn each season.
Me: As an emerging designer, you’re driving change and setting higher standards in sustainability in the industry. Why is this important to you?.
Minnie: It’s such a broad discipline, but the idea of being able to self-learn and move towards change for a better future is something I’m committed to. I’ve always had a strong appreciation for quality and longevity over quantity and trends as well as the process of how designs are created.
I’m still researching and learning but it’s important to be conscious and informed about labour conditions, wastage, and water footprints in the industry you’re in. We also need to be raising customer awareness of where all products come from, how they’re made, and the social and environmental impact of the sourcing and production.
There are so many ways to operate sustainably, including partnering with businesses that have similar values of fair trade and ensuring that ethical practice is embraced within the production process.
Things that play major parts in production – from fabrications to packaging – should be thoughtfully chosen. I’ve been working closely with a textiles agency whose fabrics are sourced predominantly from finely-edited dead stock which not only reduces fabric waste but conserves energy, minimising the potential carbon footprint from the production of new textiles. Recently, I’ve started connecting with textile companies that recycle fibres and I feel like every season there’s a new way to work towards this.
Although Aaizél is a micro business and it’s a step-by-step method, if we can all get into the habit of practicing sustainability and raising awareness amongst customers of buying smart and supporting ethical brands, this can really make an impact in the long run.
Me: We see that storytelling is a strong focus in your collections; tell us about the process.
Minnie: I love recalling beautiful experiences I’ve had from certain places. Travelling for me is the most valuable way to reward myself and educate myself on other cultures, as well as soak up inspirations and new feelings
My last trip I took was in Spain right before the outbreak. Luckily I was able to thoroughly enjoy the journey and when I returned home, we went into lockdown. During the continuous months of dullness, I was able to relive good memories through photos and videos of the relaxed atmosphere, people, architecture, and art and I was able to create a collection.
It feels natural for me to design outfits rather than individual pieces because I feel like they bring a stronger sense of storyline of what I’m trying to convey. Each collection reflects a part of my life journey and I want to be able to connect with it at all times.
Me: In your opinion, what is the critical role the fashion industry has to play in combating climate change, arguably one of the most pressing issues of our time?
Minnie: I think it comes down to individuals involved in the fashion industry playing their part towards combating climate change. Sustainable practices have been implemented by many workplaces already but we need to promote more to be able to combat fast fashion speeding up climate change.
As a designer, my role is to create a cohesive and functional range that has both social and environmental impact in sourcing and production, as well as heightening customer awareness of the importance of sustainable development.
As a consumer, it’s about being aware of what you’re buying and wearing. Also educating yourself on the materials, process of making the garments, and learning how to value and care for the pieces for longevity. Dressing sustainably by making conscious decisions on selecting quality over quantity and supporting brands that emphasize their sustainability ethos.