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If fashion month has proven anything, it’s that even a pandemic can’t quell the creative spirit of fashion. Not only that, but designers have added meaning to their collections, creating pieces that their customers will actually want to wear, regardless of trends and seasons.
Then of course, there are those, like Sandra Sandor of Nanushka (the label which made vegan leather cool) who have been working towards sustainable collections since way before the lockdown. Her latest pre-fall 2020 offering is the result of this hard work. Here, she talks us through it, as well as her exciting new collaboration with jewellery brand Alighieri.
Your PF20 collection is your most sustainable yet, talk us through it.
In the PF20 collection we have used recycled cashmere and organic cotton. Our Mesh Jersey from 100% PL is now 100% recycled polyester, eliminating the need for virgin resources and decreasing waste. Our Georgette, Tech Linen, 60s pleat, Slip Satin are cellulose-based materials, and they are sourced from sustainably managed forests, therefore not contributing to deforestation.
The patchwork vegan leather products have been created with deadstock vegan leather from previous seasons so a key theme was upcycling in this collection.
The Nanushka sustainability strategy aims to continuously improve sustainability performance in various fields including environmental and social sustainability, organisational change, circularity, animal welfare, and transparency across our supply chain as well as towards our customers and partners. Sustainability is the pillar of our brand and how we envision our present and future. For us, it’s all about making decisions with love and consideration for our planet and the people.
Approximately 80% of our production takes place locally, 300 kms from the headquarters in Hungary and Serbia. As part of our production workflow, our technicians visit our local manufacturers approximately bi-weekly and we aim for visiting all of our manufacturers at least once a year.
The Nanushka pieces are unique and trendy, but remain timeless. When designing, do you think about women (and men!) keeping pieces in their wardrobes forever?
Definitely! I like to create forever pieces that can become an essential part of anyone’s wardrobe. Wardrobe staples that last and even can be passed down. I think it’s very important that we buy wisely, that invest into pieces that are good quality and last for a long time.
You are known for the use of vegan leather, was this a challenge at first? Were you worried about how it would be perceived?
Vegan leather or faux leather was associated with low quality for a long time. However, this has definitely changed with all the innovations, and also because customers are more educated on the subject. When I came across the vegan leather we use in our collections I really liked its luxurious soft feel, and it felt like leather – I was so impressed with it’s quality that I was sure it could be an interesting product, however I never anticipated this much success. Vegan leather has it’s pros and cons, but I still believe that it could be a good alternative option for those who would like to purchase fully vegan products.
Do you think the pandemic has impacted the fashion industry forever, and if yes, how so?
I think it has impacted the industry in many ways and highlighted the ongoing problems and issues. The industry had to re-evaluate and rethink our ways of working, the fast-paced environment we work in, and the overconsumption which is the driver behind this. I think this time will give us the chance to redefine what we really need and why.
Meaningless products without the right values will be less of a trend. Comfort, functionality, longevity, quality and provenance should take over from hype. Creativity and good design will claim back its role as the leading force behind the success of a brand.
Has it impacted how you will create designs going forwards?
Sustainability was always important for me and for the brand, it’s one of our core values. It won’t change how I create as it’s already there, but it will definitely speed up certain processes to achieve our goals and fulfil our commitments towards sustainability quicker. What this time really highlighted to me that we need to act faster and concentrate on the real values like craftsmanship.
Have influencers and celebrities wearing your designs had a big impact on your label?
Influencers and celebrities helped a lot to get global recognition. Before Instagram and social media, for a brand that wasn’t based in one of the fashion capitals was very hard to get recognised internationally. In 2016, with the help of influencers, the Hide jacket became an instantly recognisable signature Nanushka product.
How did the collaboration with Alighieri come about?
I always admired Rosh (Mahtani, founder of Alighieri) and was a big fan of her beautiful jewellery and her approach towards jewellery. We met in Paris and it was obvious from the very first moment that we share the same values aesthetically and also have the same commitment towards sustainability and we had this instant connection. It felt natural to start a collaboration together.
Tell us about the inspiration behind this collaboration. How was it working with Rosh?
It was a very organic process working with Rosh, we understood each other from the first moment. We are both very driven by highlighting and celebrating imperfect forms, to find the beauty in imperfection. With this collection we wanted to celebrate womanhood by highlighting the beauty, the imperfections which makes us even more beautiful and also our strength. The jewellery is inspired by bulbous amphora shapes which is a nod to ancient fertility rituals but some of the pieces are also robust which gives a tougher edge to them.
What’s next for the brand?
We have many exciting plans for the upcoming months. We will be opening our first London store towards the end of the year in Mayfair which is very exciting and also a huge step for the brand, and will be releasing our first sunglasses collection at the beginning of 2021.