Parsons Alumni: Malaika Haaning


Born and raised in Jordrup, a small village in the Southern part of Denmark, Parsons alum Malaika Haaning started her career in supply chain management, but after she had been living and working abroad she returned to school to study fashion design here at Parsons School of Design, from which she graduated in December 2015. She interned at Michael Kors before starting her own brand MALAIKA right out of school. And has been freelancing since graduating with designer Camilla Staerk.

The brand’s vision is minimalistic and futuristic Scandinavian apparel with a focus on sustainable, high-quality garments and accessories. Its goals are long term wearability and sustainability. Instead of following traditional fashion seasons, she designs pieces that will be a statement in the now and in the future, and for each garment sold a tree will be planted for the canopy project in East Africa. Everything is produced locally in New York to maintain quality and standards, but also to support the US garment industry.

MALAIKA strives to be sustainable by minimizing waste, and recycling fabrics/plastics back into the designs. To further minimize waste, the collections are made with simplified or zero waste patterns – giving each design a distinct purpose. Here’s what Malaika had to share with us at Parsons regarding her inspirations, her backstory and her advice for current fashion students:

The sustainable factor

It all started when we got an assignment in my construction 3 class to create and develop a zero waste garment from one piece of fabric. We were not allowed to do any traditional garment construction but create a garment from the zero waste concept – no sewing was allowed but we were to connect the piece from untraditional ways and that is how I came up with my best selling, and most recognized piece in my current collection the “Zero vest” which I have attached a picture of. I researched much more about the sustainable, eco-fashion and fell in love. The sustainable factor in my company fits well with my life style too. I do everything that I can on a daily basis to be sustainable myself. Everything from recycling, up-cycling and eating less meat.

The best and most beneficial collaboration so far

Jenny Mustard minimalistic youtuber, fashion blogger, vegan food blogger and design lover. Jenny has over 160k followers on youtube. She wore our zero vest on one of her videos and that video has over 179k views.
The products that we sent her continues to pop up in her videos eg. below.

My advice while in school

Do as much as you can while at school. Attend all events possible, be a sponge, work harder than hard, network and do as many internships as possible. My time at Parsons was the hardest I had ever done. I thought I was well equipped from my years of working in a high stress and demanding work place but I was wrong. When studying at Parsons I never had a day off. I only had 1 sick day in the two years I went there. I never skipped a class and I worked as an intern in all the semesters and in the Summer breaks because I wanted to learn everything as soon as possible. I loved it! I did homework 7 days and nights a week. The years at Parsons was very demanding and the hardest (at that point) thing I had ever done but I loved every minute of it. If I hadn’t gone to Parsons I might not have succeed in having my own company because that is even harder than going to Parsons! 🙂