“It is our duty as founders to make sure that we are doing everything we can to minimize the carbon footprint our businesses leave.” Luciana Rozenberg
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Rumor has it that convertible crossbody bags will be the next big accessory trend. With designers and brands looking for solutions to help customers maximize their wardrobes, accessories that clip on and off to create a seemingly endless array of design options will be the frontier of sustainable design. One designer who has fully embraced the idea of mixing n matching is Luciana Rozenberg, whose sustainable leather bags brand Naissant ‘takes accessories to the next level.’ “I wanted to give women the ability to customize, mix, match, and play according to their own rules,” she says of her wallets and purses that can be clipped together for ‘hand-free’ ease.
Yet, Naissant handbags aren’t just about cool clip-on designs. Luciana works with third parties to certify that the materials she uses for her sustainable leather bags are ethically sourced and treated. She seeks out women-led factories. And, she partners with organizations to help marginalized children reach their full educational potential. “There is so much information out there about the damage the fashion industry causes to the environment,” she explains. After all, for this Brooklyn-based designer, being sustainable and seeking ethical and eco-friendly solutions for conscious consumers are at the forefront of her designs.
Where do your raw materials come from?
Our eco-friendly practices start initially from the design of the products. All the leathers we use are by-products, vegetable tanned, and certified by the Leather Working Group, ensuring that the tanneries comply with sustainable practices. Our dust bags, hang tags strings and the linings of the bags are made out of 100% organic cotton. All our hardware is nickel-free and is coated with 12 kt gold. Our packaging is made out of recycled materials and is 100% recyclable.
How do you vet the mills that you work with?
My factories were all found through the trade shows I attend. I would walk the floors of the shows for days and talk with the representatives. I inspect the quality of their products, then make sure that they are SEDEX compliant. SEDEX is the world’s leading ethical trade membership organisation. I also ensure the tanneries they work with are certified by the Leather Working Group. I try to support and work with women owned and women led factories. Lastly, I ask for photos of the facilities and their working conditions and I make sure I speak at least with 3 additional people within the organization.
Why is it important for brands to be eco-friendly and ethical?
If you are a brand that launched in 2020 or 2021 and you are not eco-friendly and ethical, you shouldn’t have launched. There is so much information out there about the damage the fashion industry causes to the environment. As founders, It is our duty to ensure that we are doing everything we can to minimize our businesses’ carbon footprint.
Sustainability, fair wages, and conscious production were something that I’ve been passionate about since I was in college. For my college thesis, we had to design a collection. Mine was called “Detox” and I only used sustainable fabrics throughout the collection. The photo shoot included models and the faces of all the sewers involved in the production of the clothes. I wanted to bring to light the faces of the people involved in making each garment.
What obstacles do brands face to be more eco-friendly/ ethical?
Cost of goods and order minimums are the two biggest challenges. It is significantly more expensive to be eco-friendly. Everything costs a little more, and unfortunately not all the brands can afford the extra cost. On top of that, all the manufacturers producing eco-friendly products, usually have a very small range of products due to their high cost, and if a designer wants a particular color for example, the minimum order quantity is very high.
What’s your process for ensuring that your brand is sustainable?
In addition to ensuring the raw materials we use are compliant with sustainability practices, and the factories we work with are compliant with SEDEX standards, we also partnered with an organization called Carbon Fund, which helps businesses calculate, reduce and offset their carbon footprint helping us to be 100% carbon neutral.
Sustainability also has a lot to do with product longevity and functionality. I wanted to create accessories that serve multiple purposes and can continue to be used in new ways, which is why I designed the collection to be modular. Customers can mix, match and combine styles with products they already own and/or additional styles from Naissant. For example, the Celeste Wallet Triad comes with a wallet, a detachable mini phone bag, and a cross-body strap. You can wear it as it comes, or just the wallet or phone bag on its own. You can also detach the wallet and clip it into our tote bags, or clip it onto our Paloma bag to create a whole new look.
How can shoppers support sustainable brands?
If they can afford it, shopping would be the best way! One of the difficulties about being a direct to consumer brand, is that the products never look as good as they do in real life, so showing the products, talking about them and the brand to their friends would be a great way of supporting us!
How are you sustainable in your everyday life?
I recycle everything I can, I have 4 different garbage cans to make sure I’m not mixing anything that shouldn’t be mixed, I try to keep my water use to minimum, support local produce by going to the farmers market as much as possible and barely use the AC or heating. When it comes to my clothing, I look for high quality products that are versatile and will last for years to come. I also use public transportation and talk about sustainability to everyone I can!