The designer knows the name of every animal and visits them regularly.
“Because positive energy is important to me, working with happy animals is key,” she says.
Malvar-Stewart currently uses wool from two heritage sheep breeds - Lincoln Longwool sheep and Cotswold sheep - as part of her efforts toward preserving these threatened animals. She also uses fibres from huacaya and suri alpacas, which are among the most eco-friendly fibre animals.
“My work is quite literally from local farms to my fashion,” Malvar-Stewart says.
On Aug. 14, visitors to the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio will get the opportunity to learn more about these fibers that are used to create one of the most popular fashion accessories: a scarf.
As part of the “Farm to Fashion Nuno Scarf Workshop” with Malvar-Stewart, individuals will learn the process of Nuno felting, also known as laminate felting, using a silk base and textured raw fibre for surface design. Participants will leave the class with their own mini scarf after designing and hand felting it.
“I first began creating Nuno felted scarves while living in New York City as a way to practice and master the craft,” she said. “I enjoy the organic and somewhat unpredictable aspect of the technique and its textural results.”
Malvar-Stewart will also be one of four Ohio-based designers featured in an intimate runway show Sept. 18 called, “Fashion of Our Times.” The Decorative Arts Center of Ohio event will also include designers Tracy Powell, Dom Susi and Xuena Pu. The show will include designs inspired by these four, as well as a panel discussion for them to share their inspiration, vision and other behind-the-scenes details leading up to creating their collections.
“In addition, I will be showcasing a small collection of my latest work called, ‘I’ve Got the Blues,” which will include my signature looks while incorporating various new techniques using deconstructed denim waste combined with traditional tailoring, embroidery and felting,” she said. “Many pieces will include blue - dyed with indigo or infused with denim waste.”
For Malvar-Stewart, incorporating sustainable practices into her creations is a priority.
“Practicing and cultivating sustainability, intention, mindfulness and kindness within the fashion and fibre arts are the most important aspects of my work,” she said.
Each piece is produced with minimal to zero waste.
“Any additional colors are achieved by using natural dyes that I grow, locally forage or source responsibly,” she said.
An independent fashion and fibre artist for more than 25 years, Malvar-Stewart focuses on sustainable design in couture and high-end fashion and accessories. Her work has been showcased and published in The New York Times, Essence and local publications like Midwest Living and Buckeye Lifestyle.
She obtained a bachelor of applied arts degree and a master’s degree in fashion and textiles.
With her husband and two pugs, she lives in German Village, just a stone’s throw away from her studio, “Hangar 391” where she creates fashion under her brand, “MALVAR = STEWART.” She also creates fashion accessories and interior wear products exclusively for U.S.-based sustainable fashion and interior design platforms like MIVE in Columbus and Lu France Interiors in San Diego.