Photos above from SUNO News Resort 2014 Inspiration Images
A well recognized name to those in the contemporary market & industry alike. However, similar to Maiyet, Suno is a relatively new brand with an amazing story and vision for the future. Founded in 2008, with the first collection launched in the spring of 2009. The concept was created upon the idea and vision from the Creative Director Max Osterweis, to use vintage textiles collected from his travels, particularly from Kenya Africa, with a focus on development in this country he considered a second home.
Now a design label with a cult following and adored for its brilliant vintage inspired international prints, Suno also develops fair-trade workshops in “India for beaded, sequined, and embroidered numbers and in Peru for soft Alpaca knits” as mentioned in the bio article by Vogue.com. New York is where the studio is based and where a percentage of development and production occurs. They are also one of a few designers who collaborates jewelry design with Pamela Love, who is recognized for her environmental, sustainable & spiritual business practices. All this, which may be a familiar story to many, is inspiring none-the-less.
It is becoming more common to see luxury, contemporary and even more commercial brands working ethically and sustainably with developing communities/ countries around the world to produce beautiful & relevant products. By informing and opening the hearts and minds of consumers to understand the importance and impact associated with needless excess and mass production, they can begin to appreciate quality, integrity & value for their money.
It is easy enough to market oneself with high morals and integrity without actually following through… Unless people investigate for ourselves (which I encourage) we don’t really know what is the truth.
Nadiyah Bradshaw-Spencer, head of Production & Sourcing at Suno, speaks with Jenni Avins on The Cut, by NY MAG about managing the factories, mills, logistics and the importance of traveling to the factories. Ethics isn’t a word just thrown around loosely. According to Nadiyah it is about making sure the tailors have a comfortable, clean, safe working environment, where they are not left feeling “browbeaten to meet price points”, stressing that in each factory she ask herself, “Can I use the bathroom? Because if I can’t use the bathroom that the tailors are using, that’s a problem.”
It is also about building strong relationships with the factories to have someone they trust on location everyday, who can be their eyes & ears to ensure that the factory is following through development and production with integrity at all levels. This has been a key to Suno’s success!
Waste not, want not, each season Suno produces a line of printed sneakers using recycled rubber and excess fabric in Kenya for a limited edition collection (highlighted in a post by Africa Fashion Guide & Tree Hugger). It is with each initiative they set the benchmark for others. Additionally, they have collaborated with Warby Parker to produce signature frames, where for each pair purchased, a pair is given to someone in need in a developing country.
Second to that, Suno entered into one of the hardest hit economic markets, where most companies were faced with dismal sales and strategic business planning to stay a float. Almost five years later and the market is still tough. However, I’ve noticed that among the most successful companies to come out of the recession are those with a conscientious mind for the future.
Let’s face it; among the hardest hit companies across various industries, are the ones who offered sub standard products while trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. Consumers are becoming more aware and resonating with honest brands, where the owners themselves searched out the same values and thus began companies with such beliefs. Growth in sales and the company using this business and design approach are showing positive change and perhaps a recipe for success. Fashion companies alike, as well as beauty products, health and food are steadily growing, as consumers prefer organic, natural products where the development & production process is being unveiled. The “back to nature” grassroots movement is happening!
Humbling, Osterweis and Erin Beatty (Creative Director) have developed an adored contemporary label that isn’t just centered around sustainability, rather to “create a visible and sustainable brand that produces high quality clothing… while using and developing local talent” as noted by the article posted by Eco Salon. Indeed they have and I am excited to watch as they continue pave the way through the fashion industry.
Notably, Vogue acknowledged their endeavors as a “positive sign of the times” in congruence to Osterweis statement that from the start they set out to create, “something that has the potential to affect lasting positive social change”. This is change I can get on board with!
Until next time,