Vitamin A's Amahlia Stevens on Making Sustainability Sexy
Designer Amhalia Stevens, founder of Made in California luxury swimwear brand Vitamin A, pioneered sustainable swimwear, and she's still pushing the industry to develop more eco-friendly fabrics.
“When I first started, most of my buyers focused solely on the ‘sexy’ aspect of Vitamin A's offering, but not really on the ‘sustainability’ aspect of the brand,” said Stevens. “Now, sustainability is at the forefront and top of mind for buyers and consumers, and our mantra 'Sustainability is Sexy' has become synonymous with who we are.
Vitamin A was the first swimwear brand to create fabric from recycled nylon, and its latest exclusive fabric, BioRib, is derived from bio-based raw material sourced from the castor bean. BioRib’s production process emits 20 percent less carbon and consumes 20 percent less water than traditional swim fabric production, and the bikinis and one-piece suits are made locally in Los Angeles. Vitamin A recently launched a capsule collection with iconic California retailer Fred Segal, where Stevens took a moment to chat about eco-conscious cool.
How have fabrics changed since when you founded Vitamin A in 2000?
At first, when I tried to source sustainable fabrics, all the mills I contacted told me there was "no market" for the kind of recycled swimwear fabrics I wanted. For three years I worked with some of the top mills in Italy, Canada, and California, and finally created the first ever swimwear from recycled nylon fabrics - our signature EcoLux material. Now, most mills offer stock programs in recycled and other eco-focused fabrics! And as we continue to innovate, we've found great partners with fabric mills in California and Italy who are committed to working with us on new product innovations pursuant to our mission to reduce the carbon footprint of our industry.
Is sustainable innovation more the norm and are mills more willing to experiment?
Absolutely! Most new brands are starting with eco-fabrics as a given now. I'm proud to see that after Vitamin A became the first brand to design and produce a luxe and environmentally-friendly swim fabric, we're seeing the swimwear industry as a whole, move towards more eco-fabrics and sustainable production practices.