The fashion world is sadly growing to be recognised as a transient and throw-away industry. And no wonder, as we don't know about you but we're struggling to keep up. One minute we're being told that '70s spandex are 'in' and the next, we're desperately seeking an Instagram-friendly slogan tee.
And let's be frank, we're never truly satisfied. From our weekly pilgrimage to Zara to our nightly scrolls through Mango's 'New In' section, we're never not on the hunt for yet more items to introduce to our overflowing wardrobes.
But two Spanish designers have sought to change our sartorial philosophy once and for all. Let us introduce you to Sunad, the up-and-coming label with a refreshing message.
Parsons graduates, Ana Marroquin and Paloma Canut, are the creative masterminds behind the sustainable brand. Having met while studying Design Management, the duo understood the need for an environmentally friendly and affordable line.
Inspired by their love of nature (Sunad is an anagram of dunes) and the enviable charisma and aesthetic of the '70s Yves Saint Laurent woman, the designer duo came up with the concept for the shirt-based brand.
Having initially sought inspiration from 1986 film, 'Out Of Africa', the friends deliver desert-themed collections made from 100 percent natural fibres season after season. And the best part? Each shirt is handcrafted in their hometown of Madrid.
Grazia caught up with the design duo to get the lowdown on what defines the Spanish aesthetic, who they namecheck as their female role models and why everyone should count the '70s Yves Saint Laurent woman as their spring/summer '17 style muse...
What made you both decide to focus on designing shirts?
"It was a very simple start actually. We both loved shirts and struggled to find a product that was ethically made, with natural fibres and that was fairly priced. We were surrounded by either fast fashion products or luxury designer pieces that weren’t always easy on the pocket.
That was the starting point, and from there we’ve decided to only focus on shirts to make sure that we perfect our product and that what we are putting out there is indeed a product that we’re proud of."
Where do you source inspiration for your designs?
"Having studied at Parsons, we were always encouraged to find inspiration in everything and that’s something we’ve really taken on in Sunad. We both have different interests which also opens our scope of inspiration. But ultimately, inspiration varies from season to season.
For example, for our next autumn/winter collection we were inspired by the 1953 film 'Mogambo', that elegant safari look that both Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly master. However, for spring/summer '18 we’re going back to our roots and really pulling inspiration from Spain and especially the South of Spain. The colours are earthy and natural combinations that are easily found in our country."
Ana went into interiors while Paloma focused on concept design and graphics after studying. Do you find that you incorporate these different skills into shirt-making?
"It seems odd, doesn’t it? But we actually do. Often coming from different disciplines within the design industry can really benefit the design process in the team. Ana has certain interests and has seen different colour combinations, textures or cuts that then can be somewhat recreated in a shirt.
And the same goes for Paloma, she has seen photos where fabrics moved in different ways, colours, or landscapes that will then inspire a shirt."
Who is the Sunad girl?
"The Sunad customer is someone adventurous, strong and curious about the world and its cultures. Someone who thinks globally and values quality over quantity above all."
Sunad was inspired by the ‘70s Yves Saint Laurent woman. Why did you choose to draw inspiration from this era?
"Both of us have amazing role models in our family. Our grandmothers and mothers have been an incredible source of inspiration for us. We’ve always thought that they too were that woman that Yves Saint Laurent designed for. A woman that wasn’t scared to live life, that was inspired by many things, spoke their mind and were able to do all that while still looking great. In a way it’s a tribute brand to that era and that woman yet with a modern twist."
Who do you namecheck as your female role models?
"We’re especially inspired by entrepreneurs that share our concern for the environment and ethical workplaces like Haley Boyd from Marais USA. Or by women like Carlota Guerrero, who are comfortable in their own skin and try to normalise the female body so as to not always be seen in a sexual way through their creative work. These are just a few examples but the list is endless..."
Have you noticed an increase in desire for slow fashion from the industry?
"From a consumer point of view, yes. It seems like everyone is becoming more aware of the harm synthetics make to the environment, not only during the production process but also through the product’s life.
However, it’s become very hard to find fabrics that are 100 percent natural, most fabric suppliers have reduced or even stopped producing them as a result of the lesser cost of synthetics. The variety that becomes available to us is a tiny percentage of what’s created worldwide."
Which shirt is the most sought-after?
"Our iconic Sahara has always been a top seller, along with our basic Kalahari. This season we introduced the Karoo style in two colours, one of which is a collaboration with Miami-based artist Danielle Romero of Flora + Form studio, these too have done incredibly well.
Each season we create one product that is inspired by a shirt and they always do great. Last season it was the Thar dress and this season the Tamani jumpsuit. Stay tuned for the Sonora jackets next season..."
You both work in Madrid. How would you describe the aesthetic of those who live in the city?
"Madrid is an old and classic city. I wouldn’t say people here are (in general) super trend-focused but instead strive to dress more classic and elegant. A Russian friend of ours was just visiting and she became obsessed with Madrid’s old ladies, who look incredible even if they’re shopping at the market."
Is Sunad inspired by your own aesthetic?
"In a way, yes. We would never release something that we don’t like or wouldn't wear just because we think it would sell. We try to stay true to who we are as designers as well as to our brand’s philosophy which also shapes our fashion aesthetic."