Andrea Restrepo is the founder of and designer at Mosaik Eco Studio. She has a Master's degree in Fashion Design from the University of Huddersfield. Before founding Mosaik she worked as a designer in New York and London.
WHAT I HAVE ALWAYS LIKED about designing clothes is making use of my creativity while keeping an esthetic value. But it's not only about pretty prints and colors. As a designer I see it as my job to come up with solutions to problems. For example with regard to sizes and shapes in my bras. For that reason I take listening to my customers' needs and wishes very seriously. The same is true for me as a business owner. The fashion industry is rife with problems, both environmental and social. With Mosaik I try to do my little share in tackling these problems.
Hi. My name is Andrea, and Mosaik Eco Studio is my label. I would like to tell you a little about myself and the journey that led to the establishing of Mosaik.
Mosaik Eco Studio, or Mosaik for short, has it as a guiding principle to focus on the well-being of the planet and of everyone on it. That's what I want to express in my three words motto: sustainable, comfy, fun.
The sustainability part has to do with using environmentally friendly fabric, supporting fair trade production, reducing waste and generally being conscious about work processes.
With Mosaik Eco Studio I specialize in making underwear design, and in underwear comfort is essential. I have often worn underwear that was just not comfortable, and by the end of a day I would feel miserable in a bra that didn't fit properly. I know that other women have had the same experience, and it means a lot to me to have comfort in mind when I design.
At the same time I have fun making my designs, and I hope to spread some of my joy with the products. For example I really like the cherry panties that have an unconventional color and unique print. I hope they make people smile in the morning when they put them on.
MY INTEREST in and concern with organic and fair trade production started to grow when I lived and studied in New York in 2010. At the time I had finished a degree in Fashion Design and had a brand of my own making dresses for women in my hometown Bogotá. Other than that I had no experience with the world of fashion business. Alongside Paris and Milan New York is one of the world's fashion capitals, and with it being the closest to home I decided to go there to see how fashion is really done.
I stayed in New York for a whole year. For a start I took a course and as part of my studies I did an internship with a small fashion company in Manhattan. This was my first hands-on experience with fashion, and I enjoyed my time there, especially the many charming fashion boutiques in SoHo.
My teacher Sonia inspired me to look into organic fabrics and also introduced me to the concept of fair trade. Both of these concepts were new to me. I had never imagined that fabric would be produced under non-fair trade conditions. In Bogotá, where I lived till I was 19, fabrics were produced locally in small workshops around the city so I naturally assumed that is how it's done everywhere.
There is nothing wrong with giving work to people in poor countries, but I like the idea of producing close to home. That way I can keep a personal contact with my producers and I can directly make sure that they have good working conditions. Of course it also reduces transportation and CO2-omission. Today I produce some of my clothes here in Copenhagen and others I have produced in Barcelona by a small husband and wife run workshop.
To me it is obvious that people should have decent working conditions and fair wages. That is definitely worth paying for. In Mosaik I only buy fabric from retailers who live up to these standards, and I encourage everyone to buy fair trade whenever possible.
Another thing I didn't know is that most clothes actually pollute the environment because of the way they are produced.
GROWING UP IN BOGOTÁ'S OUTSKIRTS as I did, I practically lived in the Andes mountains. As a child I spent much time walking and playing in the mountains that stretched wide from just outside our backyard, and I remember enjoying watching the birds, the leaves and the pretty colorful stones in the mountain rivers. This not only gave me a liking for colors but also made me aware, even if it was unconsciously to begin with, that nature is something we should protect and preserve for future generations. When I was born Bogotá was not the 8 million people city it is today, and I have watched it spread across its borders and seen nature give way to houses and roads.
A couple of years before moving to New York I spent some time traveling in New Zealand. Partly to learn English but also to enjoy that astonishing nature. I traveled and camped on my own through both the south and the north islands. Similar to Colombia New Zealand is very green and has many rivers, but in many ways New Zealand is also different to what I had seen before. It was my first time to see glaciers, these monumental chunks of ice that look like frozen waterfalls. I also particularly remember the fjords, the lakes, the kiwi birds, the friendly people I met, and not least the delicious manuka honey. I think that nature will always be a source of inspiration to me, and I keep these memories close to my heart.
I am happy to know that the fabrics I use in Mosaik have no harmful chemicals in them and have been produced in a way that respects the natural environment. The dyes I use are natural and don't kill life in the rivers and oceans.
CHARMING AND INSPIRING as it is, New York also has an aura of consumerism. Particularly when you look at the city from Times Square with all its electric light bill boards. It was also in New York I for the first time saw the “fashion supermarkets” – these big brand department stores that offer tons of clothing at very low prices.
At first I thought “Great, that makes all these pretty clothes accessible to many people”. Now I know that cheap clothes come at a high price – only it's not the consumers who pay it but the environment and the people who produce the clothes. Moreover, the low prices encourages consumers to buy clothes they don't really need just because they can. Many of those clothes are later burned after having been worn only a few times or perhaps never.
Realizing this has made me want to insist on making high quality design with materials that last. Clothes that you can care for and keep for many years. We cannot solve the climate crisis by shopping sustainable clothing as an addition to other clothes. But we take steps in the right direction when we refuse to support fast fashion consumption.
So don't buy more – buy better.
HAVING IMPROVED MY ENGLISH skills in the Big Apple I decided to study a Master's degree in Fashion at the university in Huddersfield, England. At a concert one day I met a Danish musician who later introduced me to a friend of his. I married that friend a couple of years later, and then I decided to move to Copenhagen. In 2014, while struggling to learn Danish, I established Mosaik Eco Studio.
Working as a volunteer in a café in Copenhagen I have met people from many different cultures – the Americas, the Middle East and the Far East. I draw inspiration from those meetings. So don't be surprised if you can find Caribbean colors as well as Nordic minimalism or Japanese sublimity in my designs.
The name Mosaik captures that diversity of people and cultures I have become acquainted with and the diversity of aesthetics I have come across.
Kasper from Communication
Kasper from Human Resources
Mosaik Eco Studio is a steadily growing organisation. Besides the main business, which is design, there is a Communication Department, a Philosophy Department and most recently a Human Resources Department. Here we bring a short interview with Kasper, the head of HR. He speaks with Kasper from Communication.
So, Kasper, how long is it you have been with Mosaik?
Oh, it's been around two and a half months now. And I really enjoy it, it's a great place to work.
What do you like the most about working here?
That homely feeling. My office has really become like a home away from home. And my colleagues, of course.
Yes, how do you get along with your colleagues?
We get along really well, everyone is super friendly. Of course Kasper in Philosophy is something special. He talks about this guy Habermas all the time and about human dignity and cosmopolitan solidarity and whatnot, but I'm sure he means well.
What is your biggest achievement in this position so far?
Well, I think I have managed to get everyone to work together. I know that before I started here people pretty much just did their own things and seldomly coordinated. Now I feel there is a spirit of cooperation.
Okay, Kasper, I'll let you get back to work, I'm sure you have a lot to do.
That's right. Next thing up is preparing onces. That's our weekly afternoon tea and snacks session when everyone in the company get together to socialize over a cup of tea or hot chocolate. Today we are having coconut cupcakes with it.