Celebrating women, the sustainable way
Tizz & Tonic is a splashy and colourful intimates label from Bremen, organic and sustainable. Two Canadian sisters realized the underwear industry was “lacking fun” and founded Tizz & Tonic to create more than just basics – sustainable, fun intimates, comfy and “planet-happy”.
Text: Esther Suave
Indeed – the label spreads a charming retro feel combined with fresh colors. Elegant, simple bodysuits, playful bra-lettes and panties … even loungewear are part of their collection.
In light of the fact that especially intimates are in intense contact with sensitive skin GOTS and Öko-Tex-Standard 100 double-check that the organic cotton for Tizz & Tonic is produced under fair conditions, environmentally friendly and is also free of harmful substances.
We wanted to know more about the young, promising label and had a nice chat with Imke and Yanna (pictured below wearing Ethletic sneakers) – on point with their 1st anniversary and the launch of their new collection.
2017 you started Tizz & Tonic in Bremen, a town located in Northern Germany. Why Bremen?
The million-dollar question! Imke moved here about three years ago after being a starving artist in Toronto for too long, and once my studies were over in Spain, I moved up here, too. It’s nice to be living here with my sister, we are great pals. Our mother is actually originally from Münster but she moved to Canada in her twenties when she met our dad. So as kids we visited Germany quite often, mostly the North because we have family here. Bremen has always just been a place that we’ve known – there are certainly more hip and hoppin’ cities in Germany but I guess we just have a soft spot for the underdogs. Plus, it’s a super affordable place to start up a brand.
How do you graduate with a focus for lingerie, is there a special study for this? Or did you put your master into this?
Imke studied Fashion Techniques and Design at George Brown College in Toronto. She picked lingerie as an elective and focused her final projects based on that. During her graduation and the following year, she participated in two lingerie runway shows for Toronto’s Alternative Fashion Week. As a teenager, before she began her studies, Imke owned a small, weird and colourful clothing brand called JohnnyWishes which she won a government grant and an entrepreneurial youth award for.
During my Bachelors at university I focused on subjects involving sustainability as this is an extremely important aspect to me, plus I planned to incorporate it into my future career. When Imke pitched her idea about an underwear line, I immediately wanted to be apart of it. We took colour and design and mashed it with eco-friendly and ethical practices and ta-da our concept was hatched!
How did you start Tizz & Tonic?
As for start up support, we had very little to kick this brand off with, but we just decided to go for it and see what happens. To be honest, I think we both thought this would be a little side hustle but then it just consumed us because it’s been so educational, so stressful, and so much fun so far. Needless to say, we’ve had to be extremely creative with how to bring ideas and products to life on such a small budget.
Why sustainable lingerie? What makes Tizz & Tonic sustainable and fair?
Firstly, the bulk of our items are made using GOTS certified organic cotton and most of our printed cottons are Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified (which basically means it’s been given the a-okay in regards to harsh toxics used in the processing and final product). Other prints we have printed in Berlin by using toxic-free inks and creating zero-water waste.
Because it’s printed to order there is also no chance for overproduction.
Right now, we are keeping our production practices in Germany, our fabric cut-offs are kept and used for sleep masks, pocket bags, bra cup and underwear linings (which are all organic by the way). Our waste is very little and our packaging is recycled/recyclable papers and tape. We create high quality pieces that are designed to last, so people can buy less, and get more wear out of their items.
No doubt is there room for improvement and as we grow and outsource our production much of our sustainable efforts will need to be reshaped. But for now we are doing the best that we can with the resources available to us, and learning everyday about the steps we need to take to get even better.
Where do you get your textile from? Was it a mess with the certificates?
We order in our cottons from Hamburg and some directly from a small cotton farm in Northern India. The prints as previously mentioned also come from suppliers in Germany. Although we use GOTS certified organics we aren’t certified by GOTS ourselves. It’s a small fortune for a micro-brand to become certified but we hope to be able to get that seal of approval from them one day in the near future. They are more then welcome to come watch our production practices! Although Imke sews through the night sometimes and that could get us into trouble with the ethical side of things haha.
We love to see some bigger sizes of models in your photos, how do you choose your models? Is there any politic behind this?
Oh boy, we would love to work with bigger models, too. (Since we had such little start-up money, all of our photographs are from free collaborations (product in exchange for photos). But we’ve had an extremely hard time finding reliable photographers here in Germany and in Canada. We are currently working with only one photographer (and our girl crush) Rebeka McLean. She’s incredible in her work, very committed and always puts a lot of effort into our collabs. Although all the models she books are total bombshells, they do tend to be “industry size” women. When we launched our website we had zero modeled garments so we feel that we’ve come quite a way since then at least.
What is paramount for us coming into our second year of business is to shoot our intimates on many different body types and skin colours. We really want our images to celebrate women. Women are amazing.
Is there any reason why we don’t see Imke in any picture? Running away from Canadian taxes?
Imke is not (yet) wanted by the Canadian officials but has camera-phobia. She is very critical of the overall vibe of Tizz & Tonic, gets obsessed with the work and forgets to look up. If she’s near the camera it’s behind it, taking a wacky photo.
Is it a topic how to represent lingerie without selling or objectifying women as sexual objects? Do you put importance in diversity/individuality with models and cuts?
This is a hugely important aspect to the idea behind Tizz & Tonic.
Conglomerates and big name underwear brands quite often convince women they should feel, act and dress in a certain way. Sexy, sexy, sexy – by their standards – all the damn time. And more often than not, the underwear is marketed for women to wear for men.
Of course traditionally lingerie is meant to be sexy but intimates can be lively, weird, and fun – that’s sexy too, by our standards!
We want our brand to inspire women to break the traditional norms and allow them to feel delighted and different.
Our cuts are simple, feminine with a hint of a sporty-vibe. Our selection is offbeat by the prints we use and functional by design so that the women wearing them can wake up every morning and kick some serious butt.
Your new collection comes out now, what’s fresh?
Yay new styles and long nights! This year since we already have so much going on, we decided to blend it all together into one big sha-bang. March 1st will be a juicy style release, our one-year anniversary and the day we get the keys to our new studio and showroom downtown Bremen!
We are keeping our current prints and colours but adding in a new bright hue and a new printed cotton. In the new release you’ll see bodysuits, lounge wrap-style cardigans, two new bralette styles, a new basic undie cut, cottons tees and… yeah that’s it. That’s a lot. We’re excited!
Give us some hint: What would be an important step towards a “better” society, what would you like to change?
Patience. If people exercised more patience in their daily life and with each other, we would have a better society. Learning before judging, listening before commenting, asking more questions before making assumptions. Patience would lead to understanding, insightfulness and compassion to one another. Then we would all be pals and no one would step on my sneakers. ;)
You can also find Tizz & Tonic on Facebook!