This fashion activist lingerie and swimwear brand is attempting to save our planet – one garment at a time.
When she was living in Leeds, Nicole Neaber, the founder of Colieco Lingerie, had a bright idea for a part-time student project and developed it in her parents attic.That project has now blossomed into something beyond beautiful.
A trip down memory lane …
If we flick back a few chapters in the creation of Colieco, we find ourselves in the year 2011. After completing university, and with a degree in fashion design under her belt, Nicole gained experience by doing a few work placements with low-key sustainable clothing brands – she was on her way. Bouncing around from her parent’s attic to her grandparent’s attic, this fashionista was an attic addict as well as a fashion addict!
Fast-forward to 2016, when Nicole found herself working on her craft in another attic – this time in Portugal. Unfortunately, her creativity was thwarted by the lack of space. After travelling to 30 European countries together, Nicole married her partner in 2015 in the UK. The couple moved to the coastal town of Sagres, Portugal. Here they finally opened their first in-house studio. Nicole wanted her brand to be “fun and wearable” and, above all, to be more “environmentally conscious in the production process.” She became more involved with the ethics of clothes production and seeked to bring those values into Colieco, ensuring the clothing line was “sustainable and ethical at the same time.”
Defining fashion … or can it be defined?
I threw this question at the world-saving stylist. Nicole’s reply was enlightening: “Fashion can mean anything to anybody.” At Colieco, the belief is that fashion is a form of self-expression: from completely art-centric, avant-garde to the catwalk or people who prefer a plain t-shirt and shorts…. The brand specialises in customisable garments. Adaptability is at the forefront, with various prints and a rainbow of colour choices. Colieco empowers women to decide what is cool for them. If you want a high cut or low cut, it’s no problem with the boundless brand! They don’t hold stock, every garment is made to order. Your new lingerie or swimwear is not only pressing pause on the global climate crisis, but it is also one of a kind.
Spinning straw into gold
Every garment is made by Nicole herself, with her husband giving a helping hand. She described the process of making a garment to me in detail. “We cut it out, make it and then send it. So that means, because we don’t make it until the customer has ordered it, we save on fabric wastage. If you’re outside the standard size range, for example, maybe you’ve got a smaller waist and a bigger hip ratio or the other way around, we can fabricate the garment to suit each individual with no issue.” Made from scratch, not born from any old factory, every single item is personalised.
Who or what inspires you when you’re creating designs?
“As a company, we work a little differently from most fashion houses. Normally you get inspiration from nature or some shape or colour. We work with desolate fabric. We often don’t know what the fabrics are going to be. We don’t choose the fabrics, the fabrics choose us. We use whatever has been thrown away by the fashion industry. Often we’ll start by looking at the fabrics that we’ve got, see what colours they are and see what inspires us from that. What shapes we can create with certain thicknesses or floatiness or whatever qualities the fabrics have. The fantastic fabrics that we save from landfill give us ample inspiration!”
TENCEL™, Colieco’s secret weapon
While the brand strives to spin straw into gold, the main material used at Colieco is called TENCEL™. All TENCEL™ Lyocell fibres are derived from sustainably grown wood harvested from certified and controlled sources and processed using a closed-loop system which recovers and reuses the water and solvents used. The result is that the production of TENCEL™ Lyocell requires 85% less water than the production of cotton. This is one reason why fabrics made from TENCEL™ Lyocell fibres are widely recognised as being amongst the most environmentally friendly options for clothing.
No cutting corners
Colieco, the brand name, comes from a cute nickname Nicole’s family gave her when she was a kid, “Colie.” Could you get any closer to home? Nicole, as a stylist, is not cut from the same cloth as mainstream fashion designers. Standing proud in the serenity of sunny Sagres, Portugal, the brand is soaring. Colieco is hard to define. Each piece is far from boring and is as sustainable as possible. Personalisation is embedded in the tapestry of this clothing line. Every garment sewn is something you can call your own. It lets your individuality be the reason you shine!
So, what are you waiting for? Get in line! Dive right into their ethically and sustainably made swimwear, lingerie and underwear at coliecolingerie.com
Facebook: @ColieCo Lingerie