Hello Guys !!
How to market sustainability to the luxury market and emerging consumers? Our founder Daniela Castellanos has been interviewed by Hania Naeem on the dilemma between luxury and sustainability.
HN: What do you believe to be luxury?
DC: I always define luxury as not being about the price. It’s the time that it takes for every product to be made. I really think that luxury is about valuing the handmade, craftsmanship, heritage, culture and energy, which artisans put into products. I don’t think about big brands like Chanel, for example, defining luxury. It’s far deeper than that. It’s about helping people around the world, whilst making beautiful products. Also, for us, luxury has always been the technique that is key. Technique meaning the intricacies it takes to make a product and the consideration for every person involved. Luxury is something that has been built out of great care on every level of the supply chain and its worth in that sense is invaluable.
HN: What do you believe to be sustainable/ethical fashion?
DC: For me, a sustainable piece is a piece that lasts in your wardrobe for many years. It is timeless and it will never go out of fashion. Its products and initiatives that gives value to our society. It’s making sure we are giving back and it’s not only one transaction. It’s helping someone else and contributing to a much bigger picture. It is based on the concept of creating a shift in our levels of conscious. It is something that is essential. We have to stop wasting valuable resources and really work on building a new foundation for fashion. It’s about asking ourselves: do I need all these clothes? It’s also about seeking ways to be a conscious consumer. For example, I do lots of vintage and second-hand shopping, which allows me to get new things but at the same time I’m ensuring I’m not contributing to the corrupt fast fashion system. It’s a definite necessity to be sustainable, especially in fashion. But, there has to be a moment where the system has to fail for something to change.
HN: Do you think sustainability and luxury fashion are compatible? If so, why?
DC: Yes of course. By default, luxury is sustainable by encouraging the concept of buying less, but buying well. At the top of the chain, luxury has an opportunity, actually an obligation to set the pace for the rest of the fashion industry. Why it hasn’t been ceasing this chance, I’m not sure of. That’s what we’re trying to do with my brand change people’s perceptions of luxury, through making it sustainable. There are a few sustainable luxury brands that exist alongside mine that are doing really well too and I mean if they can do it, why has there not been a shift yet?
I think luxury fashion has to start supporting more traditional techniques and smaller communities around the world. That doesn’t always have to mean directly helping communities. But the way it’s impacting them, has to be addressed and dealt with. We need a luxury where there is an element of valuing people. If they don’t start lead by example, then no one else will.
HN: What inspired you to be a sustainable luxury brand?
DC: I think mostly coming from the background I have and being exposed to so much growing up, I have always wanted to help those less fortunate to me and make a difference where I could. I partook in a few beauty pageants in Colombia and it just made me realize that there was more and that I could be doing more than just this. I wanted to give back to my community and I wanted to combine it with something I love. And this is where my Ethnic origins was born!
HN: How/where do you learn about new luxury brands/products?
DC: Mostly online and a lot of market research. I hear about it word of mouth too and then direct experience through meeting people and generally seeing products around. I’ve seen a lot abroad as well. There is a huge sustainability movement in the US currently. Vegan leather for example is becoming huge in the US and so many millennial luxury consumers are intrigued by this. I really do think the UK market appreciates sustainable luxury goods too. It just needs to be adapted to how people respond to it here and create connections to get people motivated to think and buy sustainably.
HN: Are you ever motivated to make a sustainable luxury purchase? If so, what are your motivations? E.g. social responsibility
DC: Yes. Of course! I don’t think my motivation could be defined to just one ultimate one. I need to know where my clothes are coming from. And for me, knowing that a product I own, has been carefully curated by skilled artisans, who have been treated well, payed fairly and have decent, safe working conditions, as well as fairly sourced products that cause minimal damage to the environment- these are conditions that must be in place. And this is what inspired me to buy sustainably.
HN: Do you read about brands/products online? If so, where?
DC: Yes. I read about them online- mostly on luxury daily and WGSN.
I tend to read lots of where the brands originate. Their origin stories are what intrigues me the most. I believe with any sustainable brand and business there has to be a level of sincerity and value to the story. Kate Spade for example, I’ve read a tonne about how she has grown her business and what her objectives are for her brand. I gather this information from all over the place though- I’m one of the very few magazine readers too, so it would be cool to have one space to learn about these different brands and initiatives who are luxury and sustainable. I guess it makes it easier to access and share things with friends and family.
HN: Are your purchasing decisions influenced by what you see on social media?
DC: Yes, and no? Though I am not an avid social media shopper, if I do see something I will find out where it’s from and get it! If there is a link that takes me directly to the online website or buyers page, I’ll get it straight away! So I guess to some degree, my purchasing decisions are influenced by social media but I also gain a lot of inspiration from them for my own social media pages. I prefer to use social media as inspiration and a way to get to know my consumer base though. Purchasing is definitely secondary!
HN: Do you follow any fashion and lifestyle blogs and if so, what do you gain from them?
DC: Yes, I follow lots of style blogs. I like to follow authentic people and those that are original. Those who don’t follow by the ‘rules’ and wear what they like. I gain a lot of style inspiration from them. The kinds of people that express themselves really well in terms of being authentic. They wear what they like. I value simplicity and not over thinking when it comes to products and clothing. Effortlessness is key!
HN: Would you be interested in an online space/digital magazine to learn about sustainable luxury fashion and lifestyle? Inclusive of videos, interviews and travel information all linked to luxury and sustainability.
DC: Yes, that links back to what I was saying about getting all the information on luxury and sustainability in one place. I think it would work. The challenge is getting people to see it though? Having people who you're generate connect with talk about it. It’s a good idea but how will you get traffic towards it? I think you also have to remember to have simple, easy content- people get bored too. What can I give to people? What is going to make me stand out from others? I think Facebook is a good tool. Doing partnership- newsletter. Put it at the bottom of our website for example. Have partnership with events. People see conviction. If you believe other people will believe!
HN: What do you think you would gain from said platform? Do you think this could be quite influential for current luxury consumers?
If it is done the right way then yes it can. I think you can do video tips- a section of small clips where you are giving sustainable tips on how to become more ethically aware. Make it sleek so fits in with the luxury way of communicating things. 30 seconds where it draws people’s attention and it makes you feel like you are learning about something. For example, if you get celebrities to get on board. We do lack anyone who is taking the lead or a role model. For example, Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman, these two are really trying on their own to adapt these sustainable practices within fashion- but again this is not focused on and they themselves aren’t putting it out there.