St Andrews designer cuts it at Fashion Week

FROM Madras College to rave reviews from London Fashion Week, the journey to the cutting edge of ethical design has been challenging — and now highly successful — for Mia Nisbet.

The 27-year-old graduate of Glasgow School of Art recently won a major ethical designers' fashion contest called 'Make Your Mark in Fashion' and 3000 prize money.

Her striking work, using second-hand clothing from Malawi, wowed judges drawn from across the spectrum in fashion and eco-awareness.

Inspiration for the collection came from Mia's time spent in Malawi.

She told the Citizen: "In the street markets, local people are selling copious amounts of second-hand clothing which are donated and imported from the western world.

''It became apparent these markets would be a great place to source clothes for recycling.

"Following the launch of the Mia collection at Fashion Week, I will be travelling to Malawi to begin setting up the production house."

Her parents, Ken — who is head of maths at Madras College — and Maureen, who works in learning support, are justifiably proud of their elder daughter.

"As a result of her win, some of her outfits will be sold at TopShop and on the prestigious on-line Adili ethical fashion site. These will be sold under her own new brand label 'MIA'," said Ken.

Mia, who won the Craft and Design Prize while in S5 at Madras, was one of three finalists in the 'Make Your Mark in Fashion Contest' with mentor, 'Junky Styling,' to produce a collection for London Fashion Week.

After leaving Madras College, she worked on her portfolio at Dundee College before going on to graduate with a BA Honours in textile design from Glasgow School of Art.

She then worked as a designer for Michiko Koshino in London, moving on a year later to work as designer for top retailer of branded clothing, footwear and accessories, USC, in charge of the Soviet Label before freelancing with her own stall at Portobello Market and outlets in shops in London and Los Angeles.

In April Mia was selected to launch a collection at London Alternative Fashion Show and in June was one of three finalists in the 'Make Your Mark in Fashion' contest.

She aims to use her prize money to finance the set-up of a production house in Malawi for her designs.

Her sister Zoe (25), who is currently in Malawi, will be keeping an eye on the project and Mia now plans a six-week visit to the country.

"The aim is to train and use local talent which, in turn, will have a lasting and beneficial effect on the local communities," she explained.

"I will be utilising all the resources found in Malawi which will strengthen their economy."