NIA | Eco-Friendly Knitwear for an Unpredictable Life.
NIA is eco-friendly knitwear. Styles are developed on WHOLEGARMENT® knitting machines, which means no seams for your extra comfort!
About this project
Last year I decided to stop shopping fast fashion. I watched a documentary called, The True Cost. It showed the negative impact the fast fashion fashion industry was causing. I was shocked to tears at what I had learned. Fashion had become the SECOND worst industry (just behind the oil industry) polluting the water systems…
I knew since I was five years old I wanted to design my own clothing line, but it was more recently that I became 100% dedicated to creating a brand my customers could be proud of wearing.
This is how NIA was born.
The problem of today’s fast-fashion retailers, although trend driven, is the lack of workmanship, fabric quality, attention to the fit and general disregard for the planet. We, as consumers, are forced to lower our standards and adjust to this new idea of cheap but low quality “fad” fashion. I’m not okay with clothes falling apart after one wash and you shouldn’t be either!
The demand for fast fashion is vast, but while retailers are producing at high rates, we are getting low quality garments in return. In the past, clothes were produced with the mindset that they would last you a lifetime. I want to offer that to you.
I decided to start NIA in order to produce a product that could withstand unpredictable events we all tend to have in our lives. Since I couldn’t find quality garments I wanted in stores, I decided to create my own.
I’m Merica Kahn and I want to make clothes that you can love living in.
The first look that I designed was conceptualized during my commute from Jersey City to New York City full time. I found myself wanting to feel dressed up for work but also feeling like I was just slipping into cozy sweats. The focus when designing the first 3 pieces was making sure the customer could feel stylish, elegant and comfortable.
I wanted to make sure that these garments were easy to mix and match with pieces every woman already has in her closet. With this minimalist vision in mind I came up with the NIA, cropped pant, tank top and choker.
The knitting machines that are being used to create my garments are called WHOLEGARMENT® knitting machines. These machines are like 3D printing for knitwear. Using these machines means there are no seams in the garments for extra comfort, a main quality I have been set on since I started the development process.
With this style of knitting, garments can be produced quickly on demand in small units as needed. It only takes about one hour to complete a garment. The consistency from batch to batch is so reliable compared to typical mass manufactured knitting.
These machines reduce waste that occurs when cutting and sewing and having to account for seam allowance.
I came across the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator through Shima Seiki New York. They recommended me to them because they focused on working with entrepreneurs just starting out, they had their own knitting factory and they were advocates for the sustainable fashion industry! I didn’t hesitate when I decided to develop my products with them.
Developing and eventually producing in Brooklyn, NY means less impact on the environment because large ships or airplanes will not have to use energy to ship goods back and forth for approvals.
I am able to oversee the whole process from yarn to finished garment and ensure top quality of every item. I get to work closely with my production partners at the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator making sure that all our goals are met during the production process while creating a trustworthy relationship.
I believe as consumers we deserve transparency to how are clothes are made, who is making them, and the process that goes into manufacturing them.
The garments are made from 100% Italian Merino wool. Merino wool is known as being an extremely high quality yarn. It creates a breathable fabric that can steadily cool or warm the body as needed. The moisture-wicking nature of merino wool helps to pull perspiration away from the body creating a quick-dry effect, this means odor resistance!
Merino wool isn’t itchy like typical wool most people know because of how fine the fibers are. Although the yarn is fine, merino wool is extremely durable, which provides an amazing stretch and recovery. This is how our garments move so seamlessly with a fast paced lifestyle.
NIA is eco-friendly knitwear for an unpredictable life.
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Risks and challenges
The biggest risk is the amount of units that I must order. I need to produce 50 units to minimize costs. If I can’t reach that volume, I will need to price each unit higher, which may put them out of range for my target market. I have set up my goals so that if this project gets funded, I will have enough capital to produce these garments at my intended price points.
I am still refining the fit of the tank top and pants. Each iteration costs $200-300 and I expect to need 1 more iteration of the tank top and cropped pant. Once the fit is finalized, I will need to spend $400 to grade the styles to medium and large. I have ordered and received samples with the same whole garment knitting machines that will be producing the final garments in order to minimize risks of production.