Easily lured by the promise of an unbeatable deal (fast fashion’s truest grift), forgetting every time that in a few months, most of these briefs (made from synthetic, petroleum-based plastic polymers) will be stretched out of shape, faded and probably ready for the bin. We wear underwear every single day, and yet this drawer is frequently overlooked when giving our wardrobes an environmental upgrade.
If you’re on the hunt for high-quality, eco-friendly underwear, Australian fashion label NICO is an excellent place to start. Founded by Lis Harvey in 2012, NICO manufactures ethical basics and underwear in luxe fabrics and styles for everyday wear.
Celebrating the “sartorial philosophy of minimalism and understated luxury” is NICO’s raison d’etre, fusing form and function to create garments that look and feel beautiful to wear. With the right cut, material and colour, even the most basic of basics can be transformed into a luxurious and elegant piece, which NICO also prove is possible with low impact methods and fabrics.
Harvey relishes this challenge. “We are limited in what materials we are willing to use which means sometimes in the design process we find that we are not able to achieve a specific outcome or we have to adapt a concept to the materials we have.” This innovation reflects the future of fashion for designers and founders, one where phasing out synthetics and shifting towards sustainable fabrics can be met with excitement.
On NICO’s website under the Journal tab, an entry entitled A Postcard From India charts a trip taken by Harvey to India to visit their garment makers and production facilities. With a background in photography, Harvey used her skills to capture images that give customers intimate access to NICO’s manufacturing processes, showing the craft and care that goes into the creation of each piece. She’s a natural at delivering the transparency Gen Z shoppers expect. “As we grew, we were forced to make the decision to move our manufacturing to India which was a really challenging time with a lot of big lessons,” Harvey says. But it’s meant they’ve been able to work with a team of natural dye artisans, which has been a payoff for the move.
In the same section of the website, Harvey’s passions and talents are further displayed through the “at home with” series, a collection of articles featuring women wearing NICO’s basics and lingerie, intimately photographed by Harvey in their homes. As I browse through the collections, I’m reminded why basics and lingerie aren’t items to be overlooked when reimagining a more sustainable future for the fashion industry. These garments are often the thinnest veil between the physical world and our rawest, truest selves. How we feel when wearing them matters, and what could feel better than high quality, stylish, comfy undies that are also good for the planet.