An Interview with Nina Tack of LE SURI Ltd (Part Two)

What topics most interest you?

We are interested in exploring more ways in which cork can be used in fashion.

However, we don’t see ourselves as a brand that will be always limited to cork. This is what we focus on now, but there are also many other extremely interesting new materials that are both sustainable and fashionable.

le-suri-about

Did you have a mentor in this work?

We don’t really have a mentor, yet we have met many people sharing their experience and giving valuable advice, for which we are extremely thankful. There is always something to learn – whether it’s someone really experienced in the industry or advice from a close friend. We hope to be able to meet even more of those supportive people on our way, as founding a fashion label from scratch can be very tough.

Have you mentored others?

We are starting to experience that young designers approach us for advice on how to build a fashion brand from scratch and we love to help out wherever we can. I think that at our current stage, we are the ones who need advice and guidanceJ

What is the importance of mentors in the fashion world for professional, and personal, development?

Mentorship in the fashion industry is probably more important that in other industries. It is so competitive and fast-moving that it can be quite confusing for a young brand at times – how to create a collection that would be both unique and with commercial potential, how to prioritize time and investment.

Also, relationships and contacts tend to be extremely important. It is fantastic to have someone to guide a young designer in this or even make some introductions to people in the industry. In case you have a recommendation, we would be more than happy.

le-suri

There have been large tragedies such as the Rana Plaza collapse, which was the largest garment factory accident in history with over 1,000 dead and more than 2,500 injured. Others were the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (1911) and the Pakistan Garment Factory Fires (2012).

Women and children are the majority of the exploited and violated work forces. What is the importance of the status of women’s and children’s rights in the ethical and sustainable fashion world too?

The horrible tragedy in Pakistan was the latest large wake-up call for the industry. But these things happen every day somewhere in the world. Children are being exploited, factory workers work under unsafe and unethical working condition. Fashion of the future needs to become friendly towards the environment, humans and animals at the same time. We’re proud to be part of this movement.

Women and children are the majority of the exploited and violated work forces. Children are the most vulnerable population. Women tend to have less status than men in societies including the right to decent working conditions, decent pay, to vote, and so on. How can individuals, designers, fashion industries, and consumers begin to work to implement those rights so that these vulnerable populations in many countries of the world have better quality of life?

This is sadly true and we, the consumers, are in great parts responsible for this. In Western societies we step in for human rights, including empowering women and children. But with our everyday choices we do exactly the opposite – we contribute to their exploitation.

I think that many people are not entirely aware of this, of the fact that when a T-shirt costs 10 Euros and a large company is making billions of profits – that someone is paying for that – mostly the weakest and most vulnerable.

Even small brands like us can make a difference. By creating our products sustainably and ethically and at least we do not support this system. And we can help change consumers’ mindset for what a “fair” price for a bag, or any product, should be.

Our price point is – contrary to some opinion – not a premium price chosen by us. It is the price we need to charge to pay for the materials, which are all produced in Europe under fair working conditions, as well as for labour. Our mark up is tiny and might or might not cover our long-term cost of running the business.

A bag made as sustainably and fair as ours needs to cost at least what it costs.

However, I think it is the big players like H&M and Inditex that have the power to truly improve conditions. Instead of launching “ethical” collections it should be a no-brainer to produce ethically across their entire portfolio.

From personal observations, more women than men involve themselves in the fashion industry by a vast margin of difference at all levels. Why?

Now you’re raising a big topic. (smile) Why is it that more men are engineers than women, I could ask?
But putting aside a larger gender discussion, I think that women simply tend to be more interested in fashion and clothes. Men tend to be more pragmatic in the choice of their wardrobe.

I don’t really have a better explanation, but curious to hear if you have one. (smile)

What personal fulfillment comes from this work for you?

The fulfillment is immense. We created this brand from a vision, a vague idea and we have made it come to live. We did not have any experience or contact in the fashion industry, so we really did everything ourselves from scratch. It is extremely though, yet so rewarding.

I don’t have children, but it does feel a little bit like our “baby” – the brand has its own soul and I can’t wait to see it grow…

What other work are you involved in at this point in time?

Both my business partner and I still have day jobs. My business partner works in marketing and I work with marketing/sales for a large tech-company.

We don’t have an investor and do everything “organically”, so our returns do not make us a living yet. I hope this will change soon.

lesuri-collection

Any recommended authors or fashionistas (or fashionistos)?

Some of my favourite fashonistas are my friends. I love it when people have their own style and wear it with confidence. When they have a great personality too, I think that makes all the difference for their style.

Any recommended means of contacting LE SURI Ltd?

Shoot me an email to nina@le-suri.com, I promise I will reply!

We are based in London and Dublin and in case anyone is curious about our brand and products, we are happy to meet up for a coffee!

Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

Honestly? Some of the questions you asked (regarding the social responsibility of fashion designers) made me sad, because it made me realize again how big the problem is – not only in fashion but in so many other industries as well.

It really made me realize that what we are doing is maybe more important than I thought. Thanks!

 

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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