During the very first lockdown of March 2020, Patty Mañá created NIMPH from her home studio in Barcelona, salvaging materials from her Grandma’s closet and reworking them using the principles of imperfection hailed by researcher Marjanne van Helvert. We catch up with NIMPH about using fashion to create a safe space that encourages diversity and cultivates creativity.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability for me is Mindfulness. It is trying your best to integrate sustainability in as many parts of your life as possible; adopting practices that lead towards more conscious, sustainable and socially-just systems. Sustainability is not only about the earth and materials, sustainability is also about people’s rights.
How did NIMPH come about?
During the March lockdown, I was making upcycled garments for myself and other friends, with nothing else to do and nowhere to go, I spent my days doing yoga, teleworking and sewing. I was making tops and garments that I was contemplating selling through my Instagram once lockdown was over, but what started as a couple of weeks ended up being months, giving me time to sit and think what I wanted to say with these pieces, and how I wanted to say it…something that wouldn’t have been possible before COVID-19 because of the fast paced environment I lived in! NIMPH was born of all the ideals and values I would like every brand to have: sustainability, diversity and inclusivity; then with the help of my amazing creative friends who have become the NIMPH team, we created the brand with a queer touch of fantasy!
What cultural influences exist in your home country that encourage or prevent sustainability?
I am originally from Barcelona, Spain, and although my country isn’t especially successful in promoting sustainable practices or embracing artisanal communities, Barcelona is committed to sustainability and promoting small businesses. There are many programs and subsidies for entrepreneurs! I myself have benefited from and participated in a program for Artisans and people who work with their hands, which taught me everything I needed to know about economics, finance and jurisdictional matters, which helped me to develop a business model for my project and think ahead to the future of NIMPH!
Can you tell us more about the story behind your garments? From where the textiles are sourced, who designs the garments, where they are produced, and how they reach their first wearers?
For now, the wardrobes of friends and family, as well as second hand markets and charity shops are my favourite places to source textiles. I also source deadstock materials for bigger pieces of fabric and salvage unwanted scraps from textile factories in Mataró, a city near Barcelona.
It all started with me upcycling my Grandma’s clothes to wear myself . She is my biggest clothing donor and style reference! I love vintage garments and grandma’s style prints, but sometimes some items are “too vintage” or “too grandma” if you know what I mean, so I started combining and modifying these pieces with other pieces to make them feel more contemporary.
Regarding the design process, there is this text and design theory developed by Marjanne van Helvert that is a huge inspiration for the design and making process of NIMPH garments, it embraces imperfection and refuses to hide the origins, lives and hands that a product has lived. We translate it into the designs through irregular proportions and necklines, inside out seams and constantly changing and combining materials.
All items are handmade one by one by me with the help of my friend and assistant Inés, from my studio in Barcelona. It will continue like this for the time being, until we finish refining our production processes.
And a little bit about the community that surrounds the brand?
I wanted to encompass everything I would like brands to be through NIMPH, and this is why building a safe space and community based on diversity and inclusivity was at the top of the list for NIMPH since the beginning. For me it is super important to support these values! The queer community is where I have felt and feel more welcomed and supported and the ideals resonate with me in so many ways, that it was natural for me to include all of those values into the brand’s DNA.
What is your advice towards achieving a more sustainable wardrobe?
Follow the Three R’s! REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, or in this case, UPCYCLE!
What resources have you found most helpful for staying informed about sustainability in the fashion space?
My go to website for keeping up with the fashion industry in general is Business of Fashion, I recently read an article I really liked about circular economy, highlighting the importance of community for making actual change and taking action, you can read it here. For films and small documentaries I would recommend Cradle to Cradle, based on a book from Michael Braungart and William McDonough and I really recommend watching The True Cost (2015), and Machines (2018 by Rahul Jain). For books, I recommend Cradle to Cradle, Fashion Fibers, How to Break up with Fast Fashion.
Tell us about a day in the studio?
For now, I combine my full time job with NIMPH, so what I do is try to spend as much time as possible there! When I arrive at the studio I make myself a tea (first things first!) and depending on what needs to be done I sit down and reply to emails and check orders, pack a package or two for different shootings or go straight to the fun part, which is pattern cutting, combining or sewing! I try tidying up a bit before leaving but I barely have time for that, so it literally looks like a little jungle made out of fabric…
What can we expect from NIMPH over the next year?
I’m looking forward to creating a safe space for all kinds of people, a place where you learn more every day, much more than a clothing brand. We want NIMPH to be a space based on collaboration, where you can find inspiration. All in all, we want NIMPH to embody a touch of fantasy, inviting you to see the world through a magical lens.