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Mia summer 2012 collection | by Zul Bhatia1
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Mia summer 2012 collection

I was recently asked by the award-winning fashion designer Mia Nisbet if I wanted to photograph her new spring / summer collection of clothes. I was delighted to accept and we had a long shoot (17 outfits) with model Esther. Mia’s parents drove her up from their home in Fife and whilst we had a shoot, they looked after her incredibly cute and good-natured baby Dio. Finally got to meet him after seeing all the pictures on facebook! It was great to have Mia masterminding styling the shoot. Normally, it’s just me and model(s).


I first met Mia when she was showing her collection at the Edinburgh Fringe Fashion show. See for some more about my involvement in that show. I also photographed Mia’s bump (on her due day). See


Mia is a graduate of Glasgow School of Art. After graduation, she developed her skills as in-house designer for a Japanese designer (Michiko Koshino). By 2005, she was designer-in-charge of the Soviet label at USC and launched her own ethical label MIA by Mia Nisbet in 2008. Almost immediately the label attracted major awards. In particular, winner of the prestigious ‘Make Your Mark in Fashion’ Award 2008 for ethical fashion design during London Fashion Week and also winner of the Ethical Fashion Forum Innovation Award 2009. This year (2011), she was in the final shortlist for two major fashion awards too.


Mia has a great imagination and turns (often men’s) clothes from the likes of charity shops in to beautiful outfits for women. She combines these recylcled fabrics with traditional African textiles to produce a collection that combines the richness of African textiles with Western styling. In the picture shown, you can see parts of two men’s shirts and note the imaginative use of a tie!


The street markets in Malawi sell large volumes of second-hand clothing imported from the US, Europe and elsewhere. This cheap second-hand clothing has made it very difficult for locally produced clothing to compete in the local market. Mia works with producers in Malawi to create ranges which turn this challenge into an opportunity. Collections are designed and marketed to an international fashion market. Profits are reinvested in communities in Malawi as well as in the training, equipment and infrastructure needed to increase market access and create sustainable livelihoods.


One of the best thing about working with Mia is that she is such a nice person and has an irreverent sense of humour too. Amazingly, in this last week she has been in my home town of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania! She sent me a message on Facebook to say that “I love it!.. was on the beach today”. Lucky thing!


See more of Mia’s work (and more pictures from the shoot) on her website


Model Esther was brilliant too. I had met her once before. She is half Kenyan, but didn't know much Swahili, so I wasn't able to practice that!


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Taken on June 27, 2011