Student Spotlight: Aaron Lit ’19 makes a difference with fashion

by Veronica Winham | 11/9/18 2:00am

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Aaron Lit’s fashion designs are not only inspired by his interest in marine life but also seek to promote conservation.

Source: Photo Courtesy of Aaron Lit

Aaron Lit ’19, a math modified with economics student from Hong Kong, has a mission to smooth out any wrinkles in your preconceived notions of fashion while also saving marine life. He intends to do this through his social project MiaMira.

Lit’s love and passion for the ocean cannot be denied. He first became interested in the ocean at the age of 4 when he started snorkeling. This grew into a larger passion at age 10 when he took up scuba diving, enjoying the smaller animals of the ocean reef that people do not usually talk about, as opposed to the “Nemos and the Dorys.”

Lit takes the photos from his expeditions and turns them into designs for his visually stimulating fashion line, MiaMira. Each garment from the line is handmade in Hong Kong with original European fabrics that are biodegradable.

“MiaMira is about finding different channels of highlighting and showcasing marine biodiversity,” Lit explained.

The name MiaMira refers to a specific genus of Lit’s favorite creature: the sea slug.

“The way [Lit] designs is really remarkable … He’s truly dedicated to MiaMira,” said Rayan Kabaha ’22, a student who works with Lit on MiaMira. “I feel like his uniqueness as a designer is what sets MiaMira apart.”

Lit often gets asked, “Why fashion?” In response, he has three answers for why his trendy, vibrant clothes spread awareness about conservation for both the people who wear and see them.

“Number one, it’s pervasive,” he said. “Everyone makes fashion-conscious choices, even though sometimes we’re not aware of it. But we’re all involved in fashion and self-image.”

Lit’s second reason was that fashion makes marine life more relatable. He explained the difficulties of imagining the pattern of a sea-slug onto clothes without first seeing it on someone else.

“It’s physiologically or cognitively easier to recognize beauty and elegance on the human form,” he said.

Lit’s third point is that fashion is visually impactful.

“If you see a good piece of fashion, it’s going to stick in your mind,” he said. “The garments I’m designing are supposed to act as visual catalysts … they’re a form of social art to raise awareness.”

Beyond being a fashion line promoting conservation, MiaMira has a secondary mission of bringing attention to consumerism.

“Marine ecosystems suffer the [brunt] of unconscious consumerism — whether it’s single-use plastics, unsustainable fishing [or] unsustainable sea foods — and I think that as consumers, we’re so detached from that world that we don’t feel affected by the choices we’re making in our everyday lives,” Lit said.

Lit has taken MiaMira to various competitions, but the one that kick-started his social project was the U.N. Youth Assembly, where he competed for, and won, the Resolution Project Social Venture Award.

It was at this assembly where Lit met Susana Sakamoto Machado, a Youth Assembly ambassador from Brazil and a student at São Paolo State University. Since then, both have supported each other’s projects.

“I’ve been following [Lit]’s work from the beginning ... and what I noticed is that [Lit] is always able to influence people in the best way, to achieve their dreams and major goals,” Machado said.

Last year, MiaMira raised enough money to sponsor 50 children from Hong Kong to participate in an educational boat trip with the Hong Kong Aquatic Life Conservation Fund. Being able to give back to the community like this is very important to Lit and one of the reasons why he is such a role model to Kabaha.

“Working alongside him every day, I am inspired to push myself to actively pursue opportunities to make a difference in the world,” Kabaha said.

Lit sees the future of MiaMira being college-aged students, and uses social media and his website as a way to attract people who come for the aesthetics and leave advocating conservation. He explained his fashion as a way to “create bridges between marine life and the human experience through aesthetics and elegance and beauty.”

“[Lit] captures more than details and colors; he is able to capture the personality of each and every animal,” Machado said.

Through a network of friends, Lit has MiaMira represented in multiple universities around the world, including in the U.K. and Australia. MiaMira designs are unique and purposeful, with a dual mission to help conservationists and fashion-enthusiasts alike.