Plain Tiger Spotlight: Mireia Playà

Because all life matters

By Renee Fortune

There’s something special about entrepreneurs who choose to build namesake brands. I feel like when you create something that you’re willing to put your name on, it’s personal. You’re saying that what you’re building is an extension of who you are. Hearing Mireia tell her story as a business woman gave me the impression that that’s exactly what her brand is – something that’s as much about her head as it is about her heart. It’s a human brand, and the world needs more of those.

Mireia Playà started her business at the age of 23. She had just graduated with a fashion degree and had built up extensive knowledge about how the industry works and how to succeed as a fashion entrepreneur. She also grew up with a father who built a successful career in the footwear industry. In 2016, four years after graduating, Mireia was ready to make her foray into the fashion industry and put her stamp on what she believed the future of the sector should look like. 

Entrepreneurs, in their simplest form, are people who can identify a need and find a creative way to meet that need. That was really what the Mireia Playà brand started as. 

Mireia herself had been a vegetarian for many years and in 2016, began her journey into veganism. She felt intuitively that the vegan philosophy went far beyond what people eat. For her, it also meant not wearing animal or animal-derived products. As a lover of good fashion, that stance meant her options were extremely limited. She set out to challenge that status quo by drawing on the knowledge and expertise of her father, the insights she’d garnered from her studies and her own personal flair for beautiful things. The rest, as they say, was history. Or rather, herstory.

In the Mireia Playà collection, you’ll find the staples – classic wedges, strappy sandals and chunky heels. But please, do take the time to look a little bit closer. Because you’ll find that Mireia has found the most amazing ways to use materials that didn’t exist just a few years ago. These include biosynthetic fabric made with polymers obtained totally or partially from renewable resources like sugars, corn, yeasts and lipids. Blended with these futuristic fabrics, you’ll find recycled fabrics made from plastic bottles, biodegradable jute of vegetable origin, organic cotton and recycled polyester. Mireia Playà is where you’ll find the kind of fabrics that represent fashion’s future. 

“Life, in all its forms, is the reason for the existence of the Mireia Playà brand. This means that its sustainability objectives go way beyond the production methods, manufacturing processes and materials used to make our footwear. The people behind the brand are just as special. We value the notion of a business being about family because, in a literal and figurative sense, that is exactly what we are,” says Mireia.

Mireia Playà footwear is manufactured in Alicante, Spain by a team of craftspeople who work under fair conditions and receive fair wages. For Mireia, it is of the utmost importance to employ a team of workers in a country that upholds fair labour practices, one that she can physically see and work with. Transparency is also one of the brand’s founding principles and the key reason why Mireia has collaborated with the Fashion Revolution movement to put faces and names to the talented artisans who bring her footwear designs to life. 

If you sit down with her for a chat, what may strike you is how transparent she is, not only as a fashion entrepreneur but also as a person. She’s not the kind of entrepreneur who will skim over the fact that for industry pioneers in the vegan fashion space, building a brand means coming up against some long-standing norms and oppositional forces. 

As she explains, “the fact that discourse around sustainability is becoming ever more pervasive and more people are becoming aware of issues around social justice and environmental preservation, may lead people to believe that building a brand based on sustainable values is easy. The reality, however, is that it is just as much of a struggle as it was a few years ago. Producers of vegan materials are still in the minority, and the price of vegan materials is a far cry from what it costs to buy conventional fabrics and materials that are mass-produced. The truth is that many consumers still consider aesthetics first and principles second. That is the approach that brands like Mireia Playà are challenging. We need consumers to think about how a product is made as well as how it looks.”

It’s not easy. But Mireia is part of a new generation of fashion entrepreneurs who are up to the task. She, like several other small business owners, have the courage to go against the grain, to swim against the tide and to face very real challenges head on. Because change is necessary. Fortunately, brands like Mireia Playà are being backed by a new breed of consumers who shop consciously. Their support means everything to these brave pioneers. 
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