This interview was published in the Vegan Lifestyle Association
I don’t remember exactly when I saw Mia Loebl’s creations for the first time. The aesthetic of the photographs on her blog caught my eye. The models were unusual and beautifully staged in monochrome clothes: an elderly and radiant woman in a tracksuit, a young tattooed man dressed in a skirt, a female student with glasses posing in a ball gown. I fell hard for Mia’s signature style. I wanted to learn a bit more about this young vegan designer. So I asked her.
When did you become a vegan? Why have you made this choice?
I became 100% vegan in July 2015 when I started my own sole proprietorship with sustainable fashion design. I was a vegetarian for 16 years (with vegan periods) before. An ethical correct lifestyle was the first idea behind my desire to make fashion. Further more it was highly important to me, that my materials and fabrics are not „just“ sustainable, to be authentic, they must be vegan too.
With all the knowledge and awareness we have today I could no longer drink milk, eat cheese or other products from an animal origin. Every living being has a soul with its needs and its longing for life – unfortunately it took me some time to realise that a vegetarian nutrition is harmful for animals too, because you are supporting companies which are treating animals like products and much worse.
I felt a total breakthrough when I changed my vegetarian lifestyle into a complete vegan. I felt stronger, more powerful, healthier and happier, because you learn much more about yourself. For example I always had a cold, in summer and winter I was suffering… since I am vegan I was not even sick when everyone around got the flu.
What did you want to do when you where young?
When I was young I always wanted to be a psycho-therapist. I preferred to listen to other people and their problems and needs. I was interested in different personalities and diversity. I always wanted to know what lay behind the curtains of a human mind and soul. So I started to study psychology and I attended nursing school in Vienna and became a general registered nurse at the psychiatry ward, where I worked for eight years.
Where did you study fashion and design?
I never studied fashion design. It was my passion and I got into it when I took a break from the psychiatry ward – a break from Vienna. I liked my job a lot, but I wanted to see more of Europe and the world, so I moved a year to Lesvos, where I worked with a designer for the fashion show at the Sappho Women Eressos Festival. I participated here twice, first as a model and the secnd time I presented my own creations. Life in Greece influenced my decision to start my own business. I wanted to live my freedom.
Why have you chosen to launch your own brand?
At a certain point it seemed to be the next step. I made my decision during my stay in Eressos. As I am a very impulsive person, I said to myself: I want to have my own brand. I did some research to find out what it takes to launch a sole proprietorship in Vienna, and then I just did it. I guess you have to take a leap of faith to risk everything, to live your dream, and to listen your inner voice.
How would you define your signature style?
My clothing sometimes has a casual street wear style, sometimes it is more avant garde, but always with a feminine note. I cannot put myself into a category, because my ideas for designs next month might be totally different from today. I like to have my freedom and the opportunity to surprise my customers… For sure my models will always be authentic individuals who inspire me with their natural beauty. With my models and my clothing I want to make a statement for social fairness and diversity.
Do you have a mentor?
Actually I don’t have a mentor -my mentor can be my constantly flowing source of inspiration, or it can be an actress, or a song I am listening to over and over again. I get inspired by so many things. Usually all kinds of women inspire me. I truly admire the elderly woman from my photo-shooting Ro Benauer with her elegance and authenticity. Further I am fascinated by transgender women. They have a unique feminine styling and I simply adore them.
I find inspiration in many things I see, hear or feel. It can be almost anything from our environment and the nature. My wife inspires me, good talks with people inspire me, and of course music. Once I have a vision, I go for it.
Do you have a team who works with you?
I have no employees yet, but my target for the future is to have a great team and to build some working space for others. Hopefully everything goes well and I can make this dream come true.
Right now my solid rock in turbulent waters is Dora, she is a female master tailor from Athens. We met in the supermarket. For one year we lived almost next door to each other but never met… everything has its right time. We found out that we are the perfect match for each other concerning our work. Now I’m very happy to have her in my life. My family and friends are very supportive too.
You are a vegan, you promote organic fabrics, to what extend it is difficult to find textiles and materials that suit your creed?
It takes a lot of good research to find exactly what you need if you want to produce 100% vegan and sustainable. Luckily in Germany are many trustworthy markets and companies specialising in producing these kinds of materials and fabrics. The variety of fabrics depends on the season. Sometimes popular fabrics are sold out and then the delivery time can be delayed – but it is manageable.
My newest fetish is cork fabric, which is a stylish alternative to real leather but as robust and elegant. For my Ball Gowns I use a 100% vegan fabric, which means that the material and colouring is also free from animal testing. This can be, for example, a recycled polyester fabric or organic satin for a glamorous styling.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It challenges me in a way I could never imagine before. You never know whats coming next – which is a big risk too, of course. But all these risks strengthen your senses and your instinct. I like the excitement. Fashion design simply fulfils me and my creativity. I can work from home most of the time, which means I have my family around (my lovely wife, our 6 dogs & 2 cats)
What’s your biggest challenge?
You have to be very self-confident and believe in yourself, even if you don’t earn a damn thing for some months. You have to find your own way in the jungle of fashion design, particularly when you are constantly in competition with others. If you truly believe in your profession, you will succeed.
I like the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Where can we find your clothes?
At the moment my collections are presented on the internet in my online shop www.mialoebl.com (German) & www.mialoebl.eu (English). I’m constantly keeping my social media up to date with my new clothing items. I present my collections at various design markets in Vienna and soon in Athens. This year I will go to Eressos (island Lesvos, Greece) again to present my clothing in this year’s fashion show at the women’s festival.