The global system of fashion production creates untold harm to both people and the environment. We believe that all stages in the garment manufacturing process can and should be done differently.
We promise to consider all the people involved in making our garments, and the environmental impact in doing so, and work to minimise our footprint across the full supply chain for each piece. This is an ongoing project that we are committed to.
We promise to share our progress with you in a transparent and honest way as we go on our sustainability journey. Sign up to our mailing list and follow us on instagram for the latest.
Our fabrics & trims
We believe in the following hierarchy of fabrics, from best to worst:
- Organic fabrics – best for planet, made using a production process free from pesticides, artificial fertilisers and synthetic chemicals
- Natural fabrics – second-best for planet, as natural fabrics are made from renewable resources and break down much more quickly than synthetics
- Regenerated synthetic fabrics – fabric made from existing synthetic fibres
- Synthetic fabrics – fabric made from virgin (new) synthetic materials. We will only use these as a last resort, when there are no recycled options available to us, and we need to ensure the performance you expect of our products
The main material we use for our briefs and bralettes is organic cotton.This fabric is knitted in our Australian Certified Organic (ACO) Melbourne mill using organic cotton.The mill has its own water treatment and solar power facilities 💦☀️
A few facts about organic cotton
Pesticides and fertilisers: Each year, conventionally grown cotton producers use more than 7% of the world’s pesticides and nearly 16% of the world’s insecticides. Organic cotton avoids the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers.
Water & energy: On average organic cotton uses 91% less water and 62% less energy to grow than its conventional counterpart. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages. Organic cotton is 80% rain-fed, which reduces pressure on local water sources.
Soil: Organic farming builds soil matter through crop rotation and the practice of intercropping, in which farmers grow two or more crops in close proximity. Crop diversity is also beneficial to farmers, as it provides multiple sources of income and exposes them to less risk of a poor harvest or fluctuations in commodity prices.
The cotton itself is grown in India, and is blended with a touch of elastane to give it stretch – this gives our garments a great fit. For Nisa, blending is the right choice for the planet as it means that the fabric doesn’t get baggy over time, giving it a much longer lifespan. We don’t currently recommend composting your undies as the elastane does not break down. We are looking into alternative ways to make, and recycle our undies at the end of their life – watch this space!
We purchase our elastics from our suppliers in Portugal and Hong Kong – they are made from polyester elastane blends. In terms of sustainability and toxicity certifications, they are both Oeko-Tex certified, and our Hong Kong suppliers are Blue Sign certified too!
Our socks are made from merino, blended with nylon and elastane for strength and durability – that means they will spend more time in your sock drawer before getting to the end of their life.
Our swimwear is made from Econyl, a regenerated polyamide, made from recycled “ghost” fishing nets and carpet waste. Using Econyl means we are able to create a durable product that’s fit for the water. Natural fibres such as cotton don’t do well under water – they become super heavy and saggy.
We manufacture our garments in our own Wellington, New Zealand workshop, employing women from refugee and migrant backgrounds. You can read about our story here.
Most of our staff come to us with amazing sewing skills that they developed in their home countries, either sewing for family or working in the garment manufacturing industry. We build on those skills, teaching new staff to use our specialist machinery and providing in-house language and life skills training.
The only Nisa garments we don’t make in-house are our socks – these are made for us in a sock factory in Norsewood, New Zealand. We would love to one day have our own sock factory too!
We send our garments to you in paper packaging, and we keep it as minimal as we can! The paper is made from recycled materials, and can be recycled again, or composted, once you’re finished with it.
We offset the emissions created by shipping orders from the Nisa workshop to our customers. The credits bought are invested in the Jari Pará Forest Conservation Project in the Amazon rainforest. This project covers 496,988 hectares of tropical forest in Brazil, an area more than 3 times the size of Stewart Island, protecting more than 2,400 species of flora and fauna within it. This is a Verified Carbon Standard project.
Our next steps
Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. There is always more to be done. The next steps in our journey are:
- Becoming BCorp certified
- Investigating garment recycling solutions for end of life options.