Fashion x Plants x Lust Survey: Stephanie Devine
A compostable, zero waste bra made of Eucalyptus. This sentence sounds rather mad, right? Wrong. It’s a thing and it’s called The Very Good Bra and it’s about to go into production. The Very Good Bra is the brainchild of Stephanie Devine, a woman obsessed with natural fibres, slow fashion and composting lingerie. If she were a plant, she reckons she’d be a monstera because she’s “a bit shiny, a bit dusty and occasionally full of holes.”
Can you please tell us a little about your life, with plants, in around 1 paragraph? I grew up in the north of England. We had very little money but we did have a big garden. The most exciting bit was the veggie patch, a lacklustre harvest of potatoes and carrots, but a truly outstanding and generous James Grieves apple tree that supplied us with apples 6 months a year. Other than my childhood garden, my interest in natural fibres stems from a cancer diagnosis 12 years ago. I became acutely aware of what lay next to my skin. This led me to organic cotton, but finding out that it takes 20,000 litres of water to grow 1kg of cotton, organic or not, let me to the wonderful Lenzing Tencel, created from Eucalyptus trees in a process which is 99% closed loop. The obsession then extended to sourcing tree rubber elastic from sustainably managed plantations, to use in the elastic. I’ve become a little obsessed.
Can you please tell us about your business, The Very Good Bra? I created The Very Good Bra to prove it was possible to make a bra which left no impact on the environment at its end of life. I was fascinated by the circular economy and cradle to cradle movement, which came into my consciousness about the same time as I was learning about the consequences of fast-fashion on our environment, where 85% of clothing ends up occupying 10-40% of our landfill sites.
I wanted to both create fantastic ‘back to nature’ bras and undies, as well as draw attention to the issue of waste management and the need to be more conscious of what we buy and wear. 80% of the environmental impact of a product is locked in at design stage, and I wanted to make a difference using my specific skills. I also live at Bondi Beach, and walking along it picking up plastic makes me even more determined to raise awareness!
What threads are you lusting over right now? I’m still loving tencel. Its silky soft, durable, washable and has great anti-bacterial qualities. I’ve even progressed to tencel sewing thread! I wish I could use soy fabric and bamboo, but until someone comes up with a certification system, I can’t trust that its been processed in a clean and sustainable way. That will come with time and demand, I think.
What plants are you lusting over? Well I’m not much of a gardener, I’ve a tiny back yard, but I love it to be jungle like, so its jam packed with agaves, banana ferns and I have a frangipani for summer fragrance. Aside from that I love my herb garden, and particularly my kaffir lime tree and my out-of-control lemongrass bush. Space is at a premium in my place so plants have to give generously in terms of looks, utility and fragrance.
What’s your earliest plant memory? Its really the days we would go out blackberry picking in autumn as a family, to provide some variety in the James Grieves apple pies. It was pleasure and pain as inevitably, in the competition to reach the largest, plumpest, blackest blackberries my brother and I were ripped to shreds!
Green thumb or black thumb? Explain. Green for sure, but then I go overseas and all my basil dies and my houseplants get watered to death by over zealous neighbours.
Love and/or lust? Discuss. Love and lust, both very necessary.
Favourite plant inspired fashion/fabric? I love a big leafy print, I’m a huge fan of Rousseau and Georgia O’Keefe paintings, but I feel too petite to carry them off myself. Instead I like a natural plant derived fabric: tencel, modal, linen and cotton. I’m hoping to learn to love Hemp, and I’m looking forward to being introduced to Banana Sylk and orange skin leather. Can you believe what they can make textiles out of these days?!
Lovemaking outdoors. Yes/No? Explain. As I mentioned, I have a tiny backyard so I best not expand on this one…
If you were a plant, what would you be? A cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa). A bit retro, sometimes glossy, sometimes dusty, a little bit asymmetrical and occasionally full of holes!