Why fashion label Nagnata is rewriting the rules on drops and seasonal sales
In an era inundated with an array of athletic brands, Australian company Nagnata is making all the right waves.
Founded by Laura May in 2017 (Sister Hannah Gibbs joined as a co-founder shortly thereafter) with the launch of the 001 Movement’s first collection, Nagnata’s official journey began when May was working with artisan communities across India in 2015 on upcycled textiles fair trade and tailor-made projects.
Nagnata, which loosely translates to ‘nudity’ in Sanskrit, is on a mission to redefine value and challenge the rampant consumerism spawned by fast fashion. “Our philosophy when we approach each collection is one of design with a focus on sustainability,” says founder May.
One of its main differentiators?
Nagnata’s mantra, which is “Movements Not Seasons” because each collection is defined by “movements” as opposed to “seasons”. This is also the reason why the brand takes a tough stance against sales and has a “no-sell” policy, including end-of-season events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (More on that in a moment.)
Nagnata is a luxury fashion and lifestyle brand informed by movement and practices of the mind, known for its contemporary movement mesh aesthetic. Sustainability, inclusiveness, celebration of cultural diversity and leadership of the slow fashion movement are at the heart of its process.
One way to achieve this is through the fabrics used – May and Gibbs focus on innovation and originality, and they push each other into the experimental space of fashion and fabric. After all, if you noticed in the paragraph above, Nagnata uses knitwear for its performance pieces – an unconventional yet durable and breathable choice for yoga and pilates clothing.
Since its launch, Nagnata has released two “Core” and seven “Movement” collections – the most recent being Core 02 and Movement 007. The Core Performance collection is known for its superfine merino knits, designed with minimal stitching and innovative second workmanship. skin developed exclusively by Nagnata, in collaboration with The Woolmark Company.
He also notably released the genderless “Sama” collection in 2020 (as part of the Movement 007 collection), which marks the way forward for the brand with a “designed to share” and inclusiveness approach, highlighting aspirations. of Nagnata in terms of inclusiveness and community.
Nagnata is also synonymous with flow, movement and fluidity, aligning perfectly with Sama, whose styles are not exclusively male or female. “Sama” is an ancient word of Sanskrit origin, which means equal or identical. The concept of Sama was born from the men of Nagnata who already wore the brand, namely the coveted and iconic organic cotton ribbed sweaters, as well as dancers adopting the basic merino performance line.
Combining the natural properties of organic and renewable fibers with technology and innovation, the Nagnata collections continue to bring the studio to the street lifestyle, blurring the lines between technical sportswear and fashion (and exuding an ambience of the 90s thanks to its bright colors and colorblocking).
May identified a void in the market – as she puts it, “It was actually out of necessity.”
So how did May identify the need for performance knitwear?
“Coming from Australia, I have always lived near the beach. It’s that outdoor lifestyle and the ease of jumping into the ocean in the morning and then having to run fast to work, ”says May. “I really wanted a wardrobe that could take me through all these kinds of scenarios. But also chic and elegant, and not like everyone else. At the same time, I have always hated wearing very tight synthetics while doing yoga. I find they would restrict my breathing and I have never been a huge Lycra fan. Plus, the more I got interested in durability, fabric development, and understanding materials, I learned that Lycra is 100% synthetic and comes from petrochemicals. So basically put gasoline on your skin. When you practice yoga, your pores are open. And so you really take in what’s on your body. So I started putting all these different pieces of the puzzle together that actually informed the design path I took with development. I knew I wanted high levels of organic, natural or renewable fibers. And I knew I had to use synthetics for stretch. And at this point, there wasn’t a lot of recycled poly or raw nylons to mix. I knew I wanted to work with knits, because I would wear beautiful Italian knit bras for yoga. I loved the feel on my body – they were so soft and beautiful – but I also didn’t feel too restricted. Also, the great thing about knits is that you can design the knit pieces to shape them, so I wasn’t wasting all that “scraps” of material.
(In other words, organic cotton technical knitwear sets are designed to shape, to avoid excessive material waste.)
“It’s a much more expensive design process and high-end fashion build, but I really wanted to mix that up with a sportswear appeal. I was at Rose Bowl Markets once and was looking for all those old swimsuits from the 20s to 50s. And they were actually merino wool – once I found these it was kinda an “aha moment”. I didn’t have a lot of examples around me, unless they were really hippie yogi brands – and that design aesthetic didn’t resonate. So there was a huge void that I discovered when I started Nagnata.
May continues, “It was just me at the start. Everything was self-funded. Then my sister, Hannah, got on board and helped. She had experience as a textile designer, artist and photographer. So between us, we could do whatever we needed to make, design and photograph a collection. And with my career in fashion, I worked in all areas of a brand – I was the production assistant, I did sales, I did art direction – so we were really able to keep that very small team. So it took us a lot of time and perseverance to launch Nagnata. And once we did, the sustainability movement started to happen more – sportswear was suddenly booming.
In an era where every brand is involved in mass sales that have become a worldwide and annual occurrence and expectation, it is a notable decision to step down.
The “movements not seasons” method aims to ensure that the brand does not overproduce and enables sustainable business growth. Her approach to slow fashion also allows her to create two movements per year, moving away from the fast fashion model which does up to 50 fashion cycles per year.
“Nagnata doesn’t think clothes should be devalued at the end of a 3 month cycle. That is why, as a brand, we do not offer any form of sales or discounting strategy online, nor in our Australian and New Zealand markets. In light of this, we are working closely with our factories, spinning mills and their technicians to create a premium product that will stand the test of time. “
“Another part of our approach is community,” continues May. “We listen to the needs of our customers and create small injections of our most coveted parts. “
As Nagnata does things its own way and redoubles its innovation – especially in fabrics – it’s clear the industry is taking note. (The magic happens in his Byron Bay studio.)
Nagnata was named a finalist in the Lane Crawford Creative Callout Competition in Sydney 2018, winning an exclusive one-year contract with the leading Asian department store in Hong Kong and China.
In 2019, Nagnata was invited to present looks at Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour, at the National Gallery Of Victoria in Melbourne for the Vogue Emerging Designer Showcase. Vogue Australia named designers Nagnata “Generation Next” as part of the “Meet Our Future” column of the February 2019 issue of the magazine. And as part of the VAMFF Sustainability Award in 2020, Nagnata received sustainability mentorship.
Nagnata has restarted wholesale in the U.S. market with LCD and FWRD (the brand had taken a break from distribution in North America during COVID), and it has more exciting news on the horizon in 2021.
“We are also working with an Aboriginal charity on a long-term fundraising project for Aboriginal artisans, which is close to our hearts,” says May.
On the movement front, Nagnata recently launched a studio platform offering free yoga and Pilates.
“The Nagnata lifestyle embodies movement, art and activism and we are happy to open our world to everyone.”