Aesthete Lingerie Makes Sustainability Sexy
Natasha Louise Hyldager is on a mission. She is determined to create beautiful, sexy lingerie using sustainable materials. Aesthete is that mission. It is the first brand to make lingerie from a mix of hemp and silk. It is also the first Scandinavian lingerie brand to use peace silk. From what I’ve seen, she is well on her way.
- Tell us about yourself. What are your fashion creds?
During my studies in designculture and economy, I became aware of how design really is a motivator to change. I became interested in how we can make things better by thinking sustainability into our designs, and thus my interest in shape, material, and movement grew. I started Aesthete while still in uni (that’s university for us yanks).
- Why did you decide to start Aesthete? How is your lingerie produced, what materials are being used, where is the factory are you using? Are workers receiving a living wage and working in ethical conditions?
I started Aesthete because I personally needed lingerie that was made to be loved with lasting design and quality. With a minimalistic mindset, I sought to find materials that are strong, ethically-made and made without harmful chemicals as well as being beautiful and biodegradable. I wanted to make all functional details beautiful and decorative. Beautiful function means a lot at Aesthete. My first designs are developed to create a cup-feel without a wire. We do that by using three layers of quality fabric, pure natural textiles without elastan. We have also created a functional and classy hook system leaving 7cm of adjustment room under the bust. Aesthetes first designs are created from biodegradable textiles made without pesticides, fungicides, and other harmful chemicals in the process. Our featured textiles for our first designs are hemp and peace silk.Hemp fibre was for hundreds of years used all over the world for rope, sails, and clothing, but was with the import of cotton and manufacturing of artificial fibres, forgotten in Scandinavian manufacturing. Hemp does not require the use of pesticides, fungicides, or fertilizers, making both the social and environmental advantages significant. Due to its hefty growth, hemp is one of the crops to absorb and accumulate most CO2. The advantages of hemp are further reinforced by our supplier HempAge, a member of the Fair Wear Foundation and leading in research and development in the manufacturing of hemp textiles. Weaved with 23% silk, the fabric has a luscious feel, that has been sought after since silk was invented in ancient China.The peace silk, used by Aesthete, is created in India under a project founded in 2012 in the region of Jharkhand. The project worked on the biological and non-cruel process to grow and cultivate silk worms without using any kind of pesticide, fungicide, or genetic spray. The project also creates fair trade for all people involved, from seed to finished textile. Our supplier Seidentraum is truly a frontrunner in sustainable silk manufacturing.The company focus on products that are:
- produced in a controlled organic husbandry
- manufactured according with the GOTS rules
- made of Ahimsa or wild silk
- originated from a Fair Trade business or co-operation
- sold directly by the producer
- manufactured without child labour
Both hemp and silk are thermal conductive making the fabric feel cool in the summer. Our lining is made from 55% hemp and 45% organic cotton. Our first designs are created in a small batch of 10 pieces per style and size to get an idea of the demand and thereby not creating waste. Our manufacturer Daretta in Lativa, EU, and exceeds European and national laws on wages and working conditions. The employees work 8 hours a day with 1 hour lunch break, often divided in two. There are also multiple small breaks which may last up to 10 minutes every hour. The maximum working hours per week is 40 hours and the seamstresses have 4 weeks of vacation a year, usually divided into 2 weeks at Christmas and 2 weeks in the summer. One of the focus points is to work with development and education which is why they, among other, provide financial aid, flexible working hours and payment for those who are actively engaged in undertaking different kinds of formal education. The seamstresses make a responsible living wage, are offered health insurance, are rewarded with employee trips throughout the year, and are otherwise happy Latvian people.
- Why is sustainability and ethical production so important to you?
Sustainability and ethical production is to me fundamental when creating a company. To me, sustainability is essential to create good products. I believe that the term encapsulates quality, aesthetics, environmental and social responsibility, and longevity.
- What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry?
I have learned to trust my instincts. Sustainability, as well as most subjects in general, does not have one answer. So if you have genuinely investigated the subject—fit, design, financial questions, partnerships, etc., then trust your instincts. If something seems impossible, ask yourself what you can do to get closer to the goal and take it one step at a time.
- Describe your personal style. Who are your style icons and why?
Since I am a Scandinavian woman, minimalism and everyday uniforms are my thing. I had a period of a year or so, where I didn’t buy any clothing because I had a hard time coping with fast fashion, and didn’t know where to go shopping. So I quit going. Now, I buy few items, either vintage or sustainable brands that share my aesthetics. My style icons are first, my aunt, a british woman who in her classy outfits and stiletto heels, made a great impression on me as a young Danish suburban girl. Katharine Hepburn also comes to mind. She challenged the status quo of how women should be.
- What’s always in your fridge?
In our fridge we always have coffee, hot sauce, and homemade marmalade from my boyfriend’s wonderful mum.
- What three things can’t you live without?
My sketchbooks, my bicycle (Copenhagen living necessity!), and my computer (and of course organic coffee all day).