You’ve probably already heard about Slow Fashion: the idea that consumer and production habits in fashion should focus on quality, longevity, and ethical social and environmental practices. But if Slow Fashion is about reducing the cycle of waste, Maja Brix has developed Slow & Steady Fashion. This is fashion that builds on itself, step-by-step and piece-by-piece, to create both the ideal wardrobe and business model.
The former womenswear designer at Henrik Vibskov from 2003 – 2012, Maja Brix launched her eponymous label in early 2016. While it would have been natural to branch out into traditional seasonal fashion collections, Brix instead chose to create something more conceptual – a brand that reflected more than just her aesthetic choices.
The result is Suit 1, a semi-casual two-piece suit (jacket and trousers) that has been deconstructed to the bare minimum. There’s no breast pocket, no buttons on the sleeves, no shoulder pads. “I wanted to work with the iconography of the suit,” Maja explains, “as well as provide something that I saw as missing in the market. This is a designed suit that isn’t overly formal. People can wear it to a business meeting or to an event. I know of a few who have worn it to their own weddings!”
For all that stripping away, Maja is right; the suit looks very much “designed.” Although Suit 1 technically isn’t tailor-made – all of the suits are made from the same pattern, although each one is custom-fitted – the result is certainly “tailored” in the sense that each aspect looks intentional.
“In cutting back what was unnecessary, I was even able to double back and find that some things are necessary,” Brix laughs, explaining that she initially omitted the jacket button from the design. Now, it’s an optional part of the suit and something she encourages the wearer to start without. “I can add the button, but once it’s added I can’t remove it because we have to cut into the fabric. So it’s important that the customer discovers him or herself if it’s a functional button or not.”
Each suit is made as sustainably as possible, with a high percentage (96% currently) of organic cotton and the lining is created from Cupro, a biodegradable by-product of cotton production. The suit itself is sustainable in a number of ways; it’s multi-functional, long-lasting and the labor used in producing it is environmentally and socially ethical.
So who is buying Suit 1? Well, it’s not cheap (7000 DKK, or 950 EUR). That’s to be expected; aside from the materials, it’s handmade by a team of highly-trained, well-paid professionals and is custom-made to your size and tastes. “Interestingly, a lot of architects,” Maja answers when I ask, “which makes sense to me. The suit is quite architectural in nature, even down to the theory behind it.” Though it has largely been men purchasing Suit 1, the piece is entirely gender-neutral; Maja has both men and women customers.
So yes, the suit is an investment. But it’s one for which it’s possible to get an outsized amount of use from, and which you can feel good about. But surely man cannot live on Suit 1 alone. Maja Brix will slowly release more items (e.g. Shirt 1) and build the wardrobe of all our design dreams.
The conversation with Brix consistently comes back to the symbolism of the suit; both how she has interpreted it and how it has evolved over the course of production. When I try to steer the conversation to sustainability, an angle I find fascinating, Brix stops me. “Sustainability is incredibly important to me, both morally and economically” she explains, “but it’s something that I think should just be part of how things are done. We shouldn’t even really need to discuss it. And it should never take away from the design process.”
She’s right, but until these practices are normalised in the industry, it’s going to be something that sets her apart. Maja shrugs, “I’m ambitious with my sustainability, but I’m also ambitious with my design concepts. There can’t be one without the other. Sustainability is the foundation, but design is the reason I do what I do, and the reason I want to lay this foundation in the first place.”
Photo credit: Sascha Oda