Ex-investment banker turned fashion

March 2020 is a month not many will forget for a while – it was the first time in living memory governments around the world stepped in to tell us how to spend our time, where to be, how to work, who we could and could not interact with on a daily basis.

People reacted to lockdowns in a variety of ways… some tried to ‘complete’ Netflix, others tried to lose those extra pounds which had been hard to shift in ‘normal’ times. Many thought of career changes, or indeed setting up a new business. For most it was a pipedream, but for some that notion has become their new reality.

Until covid hit, Fi Paziana was a Milan-based investment banker who always had a passion for fashion, but only really expressed in making the odd piece for herself or friends.

However, this – combined with a particular curiosity about an aspect of the sector – would be the catalyst for Fi to quit her job and launch her own label – Fi Miliano – and is just about to launch her debut capsule collection.

The point of difference, however, between Fi and other covid-career changers, is that she has also created and patented her own lab-verified smart fabric, Vylet®️, which is a possible solution to a particular yet widespread health and wellness problem – Vitamin D deficiency. Studies have shown that one billion people suffer from a variety of symptoms because they get insufficient levels of the nutrient, particularly women of south asian origin. And so the big idea was born… to produce a range of modest fashion made from the smart fibre.

Fi says: “Vylet®️ allows women to completely cover up but at the same time will filter the sunlight to allow the UVB rays responsible for Vitamin D production to pass through. The contact of these UVB rays to the skin interact with a protein called 7-DHC, converting it into vitamin D3, the active form of vitamin D.

“My father is a doctor, a bone specialist who has been studying the effect of bone metabolism for over 30 years. He was the first to tell me that there were problems in specific populations. That was my first breakthrough. The second was a very special person who convinced me that I shouldn’t be scared and that I should put myself out there and see what kind of response I would get.”

And so, heeding her friend’s advice, Fi has used the power of social media to summon the wisdom of crowds, asking her ‘wonderful and ever-growing community’ for feedback about every aspect of the clothing – colours, textures, cuts… and they have responded in kind with millions of views and a very enthusiastic response to an idea whose time has come.

“This fabric is unique. With the right support, I believe it has the power to really change lives.” says this tenacious entrepreneur. So far Fi has clocked up in excess of 2.5million Tik Tok views, a dedicated social following and women who are waiting for the range to be released so they can benefit from Vylet®️’s tried and tested properties. Her channel has become a place for women to share both the advantages and drawbacks of hijabs, abayas and other modest fashion garments.

Fi is on a mission to free women – to allow them to wear what they want without health repercussions, but also to celebrate the grace, strength and sophistication that modest fashion can bestow on those who wear it. She is also concerned about some of the pharmaceutical products such as SPF sprays due to the levels of the known carcinogen benzene they contain. In May 2021 an independent laboratory called on the US Food and Drug Administration to recall 78 products containing benzene. These product recalls have started to happen.

“I’m trying to create a natural solution for women that worry about what heavy metals and chemicals from creams are being absorbed through skin and end up in their blood stream,” says Fi with steely determination.

As with many founder stories, we are currently at a crucial phase – Fi has been working hard on product, packaging, branding, marketing and all the dozens of aspects it takes to get the commercial magic mix right – and very soon will be launching the Fi Milano Vylet®️ debut capsule collection.