You all know that the definition of luxury varies from person to person. That is true for the term “sustainable luxury” as well. As we all attempt to find our own meaning for this category, here are some brands giving us an incentive to live consciously and give way to mindful consumption
By: Tejashee Kashyap
Posted on: September 1, 2021
The only reason I would be thankful for (or anyone should be) in this pandemic are the dialogues exchanged around the world regarding the concept of sustainability. For many, it’s just a long word that is good to hear. For brands, it is a golden opportunity to market their products. For some, it is a new pledge taken to be vigilant about their choices. A mere two-three years back, the buzz around sustainability and greener methods started to grow. Little did I know that this word would be so expansive that I would need to Google numerous times to understand the processes, ingredients and methods, and packaging behind the very “true” essence of the word that claims to save Mother Earth.
Skincare brand Tata Harper provides refillable products
"Little did I know that this word would be so expansive that I would need to Google numerous times to understand the processes, ingredients and methods, and packaging behind the very “true” essence of the word that claims to save Mother Earth."
And while it takes time to really reach the core of this lifestyle, it has never been easier to shop responsibly with the many sustainable brands cropping up. For many of us, this concept of consumption could be labelled exorbitant, but who has ever benefitted from paying less, only to realise later that it doesn’t directly correlate with higher pay for workers on assembly lines and in cotton fields!
While none are a catch-all cure for our collective consumption problem, they’re all a promising start. After all, the least effort always starts with an individual. In my hunt to demystify the world of conscious consumption - from masterly decors to promising eco-beauty lineups - I knew I had to give in to these brands for their innovative concepts that are “actually” trying to deblur and simplify this concept of conscious consumption.
1. Thoughtful Skills
A piece of art trying to preserve rich culture or making abundant use of luscious natural materials can be a pioneering example of sustainability and luxury at homes. Welcome to photosynthetic furniture by Living Things that explores symbiosis with photosynthetic algae to make furniture. Their handmade lamp is made with microalgae, a nutritious organism that can absorb carbon dioxide, and give off light and heat.
Photosynthetic furniture by Living Things
Even for ships and yachts, sustainable materials are now being used to reimagine the interiors. Cotton, feathers and hemp are used instead of leathers and woods. Luxury ship designers are reimagining interiors with a lighter footprint. Non-reusable materials like fishing nets and urchin’s spines have been transformed into luxury surfaces by UK specialist Nature Squared.
Scandinavians have always been famous for their design traditions. Denmark-based textile manufacturer, Kvadrat, has a strong sustainability policy regarding its use and disposal of fabrics. Kvadrat launched the sustainable recycling company ‘Really’, which upcycles waste wool and cotton to create different materials. They also donate textiles no longer in their standard collection to charitable institutions or creative projects.
The upcycled miniature Shreenathji paintings door by I-Design Studios
Closer home, interior designer Pooja Gupta, founder of I-Design Studios, works closely with Indian craftsmen to revive heirloom pieces of furniture, giving them a new life. Miniature Shreenathji paintings, bought from a local fair in Kanpur, have been nailed onto a reclaimed door that sits in her atelier. Richly stained shoe moulds circularly surround a mirror at the studio to lend an adventurous, eclectic feel. She has also transformed an old, heritage trunk into a practical piece of art by adding reeded legs and a Mughal lattice art inspired top. “I see how craftsmanship revival and sustainability are intertwined and how more and more people are turning to time-honoured crafts to feel the connection to nature, to a place they are attached to, to themselves,” she says.
2. Bling Affair
Jewellery is an experience, and a key component of everyday style. So making smart, sustainable choices will always have benefits in the long run. In an effort to raise awareness about the plight of thousands of elephants killed, Alexandra Mor, John Hardy and Coomi are among jewellers who have created one-of-a-kind pieces using the tagua nut, a beautiful and sustainable alternative to elephant ivory. With eco-conscious shopping now in front of mind for most consumers, jewellery that is synonymous with thoughtful sourcing and give-back initiatives truly have an impact.
Coomi jewellery made using tagua nut
Using recycled metals for new collections (and introducing them to old collections), Creature Jewellery also commits to eco-friendly, recyclable packaging, and biodegradable gift wrapping.
Another jeweller that cares for nature and heritage is Megan Baker, founder of Baker & Black, who crafts delicate and distinct statement jewellery. She utilises recycled gold, which she sources from a century-old mill in Virginia.
Baker & Black uses recycled gold for their jewellery
With eco-conscious shopping now in front of mind for most consumers, jewellery that is synonymous with thoughtful sourcing and give-back initiatives truly have an impact.
3. Green Style
Who said environmental sustainability and luxury fashion couldn’t mix? Not only are designers and brands creating garments that will last you years but they are paving the runway with progressive production methods and innovative textile inventions. An eyewear and accessories brand, Covalent utilizes carbon in the air to make fashionable carbon-negative products. Be it minimalist sunglasses, tote bags, clutches or coin purses, they provide shoppers with information through their blockchain technology, showing the impact they make on the environment.
Another good news on the fashion horizon is how food waste is being transformed into clothing. A lot of luxury brands are using a veritable menu of food and agro-waste fibres to make clothing and accessories. Footwear brand Viron uses vegan leather, made from apple and corn leather, for its products.
Baula's vegan handbags are made of apple skin and pineapple skin
Colombian accessories brand, Baula, also uses materials that are recycled from food production waste. The unique shaped, distinctly inspired statement bags are made from Piñatex (an animal-friendly alternative to leather, made from pineapple leaves) and apple leather (made from apple waste). “The idea that vegan leathers look like leather but are cruelty-free and sustainable is in our DNA. However, as plant-based leathers are pretty new and are produced in small quantities, it's hard to buy a wide range of colors, and frequently some are sold out. But I have always wanted to make something to support endangered species and to promote respect for animals. And as fashion is such a powerful tool, I decided that Baula was the best way to inspire others to fall in love with animals and protect them,” says Mariana Laserna, founder of Baula.
It’s worth the investment as these luxury designers embody slow fashion and circularity in action too.
"However, as plant-based leathers are pretty new and are produced in small quantities, it's hard to buy a wide range of colors, and frequently some are sold out. But I have always wanted to make something to support endangered species and to promote respect for animals."
4. Clean Touch-Ups
Argentum Apothecary uses colloidal silver in its products
As the pressure to look a certain way has increased due to heightened use of social media, our experiments with skincare and makeup goodies have increased too. Although, many times, we have failed to notice the nasties hiding amid these essentials. Basically, the arena is fraught with marketing jargon, and a surprising level of ‘greenwashing’. However, there are brands that refrain themselves from misleading promises and maximise their contribution back. Based on the healing power of colloidal silver, Argentum Apothecary is delivering groundbreaking science to become a leader in modern skincare. It promotes cell regeneration, crucially the production of collagen, excellent hydration and decreases the skin’s irritant effects. It is further free from microplastics and uses organic materials and products.
A sustainable way to capitalise on youth-boosting benefits without the large-scale harvesting that threatens ocean life, One Ocean Beauty focuses on getting all the benefits of natural, marine ingredients without interrupting their habitats. This cutting-edge luxury beauty brand, apart from recyclable packaging and being cruelty-free, also helps to fund vital marine conservation endeavours.
Packaging at Noble Panacea is made out of 100% recyclable material
For many brands, skincare offerings now come in tiny one-dose sachets that aim for specific skincare concerns. Noble Panacea is made out of 100 per cent recyclable material and is housed in a futuristic refillable pods made of renewable starch-based materials. The brand seeks sustainable sources of actives that uses green and biodegradable processes for extraction technology that is respectful of the environment.
On the other hand, many luxury brands are now relying on refillable models to help them in their brand positioning. Refillable perfumes like Myro and vegan lipsticks from Hourglass elevate sustainable beauty to a new level of luxury. Tata Harper is another brand in this refillable arena that provides its Water Lock Moisturizer product at $68 for the first purchase and at $62 for a refill.
Myro offers refillable perfumes
Many luxury brands are now relying on refillable models to help them in their brand positioning.
The question now remains, are you ready to see the way beyond the “regular marketing” language of green-washing, or have it within yourself to understand greener adoptions, the concept of recycling and upcycling, and the transformation and longevity that we can bring around us just by picking an innovative product.