Nala Press Photo RAYDAR

Nala: Disrupting the Intimates Industry with Sustainable Fashion

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Nala Press Photo RAYDAR

In a realm where intimates often fall flat, offering limited options that are either overly provocative or painfully unexciting, enter Chloe de Winter‘s brainchild, Nala. This fresh and inspiring label sets out to disrupt the status quo, marrying the concepts of style, comfort, and sustainability to create a collection that caters to the diverse tastes of today’s consumers. The label’s origin is a tale of daring dreams and unwavering commitment to filling a glaring void in the underwear market with creations that are equally functional, fashionable, and environmentally conscious.

Fueled by the belief that the perfect undergarments have the power to instill an indomitable sense of self-assurance and strength, Chloe embarked on a journey to redefine the intimates industry. Nala’s unique designs, crafted from cutting-edge bio-based fabrics, showcase a vibrant and inclusive aesthetic that resonates with the modern consumer’s sensibilities.

At the core of this forward-thinking brand lies a set of unshakable principles, affectionately referred to as the Pinky Promises. These guiding tenets emphasize comfort, affordability, inclusivity, and sustainability, positioning Nala as a trailblazer in the intimates space. By steadfastly adhering to these values, the label promises to provide its customers with a transformative experience, wherein underwear is no longer an afterthought but an empowering extension of one’s self.

Allow yourself to be swept away by our candid conversation with Chloe de Winter, as we uncover the essence of Nala and the driving forces behind the brand’s remarkable success. Read on for our full interview.

How did you come up with the name “Nala” and what does it encompass to you?

Well, we started Nala after coming back from New York during the pandemic. I was looking for bras and underwear, but couldn’t find anything that met my non-negotiables: comfort, affordability, sustainability, and a cool, fun style. My husband wasn’t sure about his work situation, so we decided to go all-in on creating a brand. We worked on it for about a year and launched in October.

Naming the brand was difficult, but we wanted something strong with a touch of softness, fun, and that made people feel good. When you say “Nala,” people have positive associations with it, like a queen. It just fit the brand perfectly.

I love that you’re championing inclusivity in your brand, can you talk about why that’s so important to you and how you’re ensuring that everyone feels seen and represented in your products?

Absolutely. Inclusivity was one of our core pillars from the moment we conceived Nala. We noticed other brands promoting inclusivity in a tokenistic way, and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to embed it into the brand. We admired other brands and used them as inspiration, but we also took it a step further. We aimed for size inclusivity, offering sizes from double extra small to 6XL, and bras up to an H cup. We found that these sizes are selling because people want them. We also considered gender inclusivity, developing gender-neutral products and a specific brief for trans women, based on their feedback.

Comfort is clearly a top priority for Nala, what insights could you give us into the design process and how you’re balancing comfort with style in your products?

The process is lengthy but necessary. We start with a mood board for the vibe and style, then listen to our customers’ needs. We think about the customer we’re trying to serve and what they’re missing in their lives. Once we have an idea of the customer and style, we begin developing the product, sourcing sustainable, affordable, and high-quality fabrics. Then we create samples and test them in different sizes to ensure the right fit and support.

We do a lot of wear testing, asking people to wear and wash the products repeatedly, then provide feedback on how they feel, the quality, and the comfort. We make adjustments based on this feedback, such as adding or removing clips for a better fit. The process is slow and takes time, but prioritizing quality requires it, and we know that now.

I’m so obsessed with your bio-based fabrics! Can you tell us more about how they’re made and why they’re a planet-saving game-changer in the fashion industry?

Yeah, sustainability was one of our core pillars at the start of building the business. It should be a standard for every business, right? Our bio-based fabric is made of a nylon from renewable resources like cornstarch instead of petroleum, which is better for the environment. It’s more expensive and challenging to find sustainable fabrics, and we also use sustainable packaging. As a new brand, it would be easier to take the less sustainable route, but we weren’t going to do that.

Sustainability and style don’t always go hand in hand, but Nala is killing it in both areas. How do you approach design to ensure that your products are sustainable, but still fashionable and desirable?

It takes time to source the right fabrics, and we’ve had to say no to some incredible materials that weren’t sustainable. We stick to our principles and have found it enjoyable to explore different options and new ways to do things. Sustainability makes you think more creatively about your designs. We’ve faced challenges when trying to find fabrics that are both sustainable and stylish, but we’re committed to making that work.

I know you’ve partnered with some incredible intimates designers with over 100 years of combined experience, can you tell us more about who they are and how they’ve helped bring Nala to life?

We assembled a team of experienced designers, mostly women, with one amazing guy. They’ve worked in the intimates industry for a long time and have helped us navigate the complexities of bra making. The team specializes in different areas, such as fabric structure, size grading, quality control, stretch, and color. They ensure that our products are of the highest quality, which has contributed to our high returning customer rate.

Working with people with this much experience was truly necessary to make the kind of quality products that we have. They measure the stretch of every elastic and fabric, check on the color and the way it washes to make sure it doesn’t run or fade, and other aspects of quality control. We’re fortunate to work with such a talented team.

Your brand values are all about empowering people to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. Can you tell us about how you’re bringing that message to life through the products and marketing?

It’s all in the messaging and what you choose to put out there. We use real people, real bodies, and put a lot of work into selecting the models for our campaigns. We also try to use gender-inclusive language across our platforms. These efforts naturally empower people and make them feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. In addition, we cater to various sizes, offering up to 6X sizes on our website in stock and ready to buy, instead of just using one token model and selling out. Embedding these values through all parts of our business is essential for promoting confidence and comfort.

Nala is all about embracing individuality and breaking down traditional gender norms in the underwear space. How do you hope to inspire others to do the same?

Australia is far from perfect, but we follow closely what’s going on in the world and hope to bring positive change. We do face backlash and criticism, like during our Pride campaign, which received both supportive and transphobic comments. However, we remain motivated to put such content out there. Our model Krystal, a trans woman, spoke about the lack of content for her when she was younger, and we’re fully supportive of her efforts.

We hope that people take inspiration from what we’re doing, and that it makes it less scary for other brands to follow our example. Our aim is to be a good example for other brands in terms of embracing individuality and breaking down gender norms.

What’s next for Nala? Any exciting product launches or plans for expansion in the works?

We have a lot happening, including planning a range for the middle of 2024. There’s an amazing activation coming up in a couple of weeks, new products launching throughout the year, and we’re always listening to our customers to provide solutions for what’s missing in the market. In terms of sustainability, new materials and options are constantly emerging, and we’re excited to see what else will be on offer, as there’s already much more available now than when we first started looking at fabrics a year ago.