AMUR AMUR AMUR…we are in love!
I have fallen in love with the NYC based brand AMUR. They came on my radar when I was on the hunt for an Oscars dress, although the brand provides a complete ready to wear range of separates too (and have just launched their Pre-Fall 2018 Collection). Sadly, my bump’s proportions did not allow for me to fit into any of the brands gorgeous pieces for my red carpet moment even though I wore some of them for our pre-Oscar events. The brand’s name stands for A Mindful Use of Resources (AMUR) and was born from the concept that great style does not have to come at the expense of our environment. In the words of creative director Sofia Shannon “Nature is the ultimate luxury.” The interplay between creativity and the environment is essential to her worldview and what you can expect to find from the brands’ offering are sustainably sourced materials fitting effortlessly into a modern urban lifestyle. Tailoring is always sharp and considered.
For me, materials are such a huge part of the sustainable conversation, and with AMUR all materials are sourced with an eye toward environmental good, whether organic and natural fabrics, reclaimed fibers that conserve material resources or trims made by artisan collectives in the developing world. For its second skin feel and ecological offering, each season the brand starts with natural textiles from certified organic cotton and silk across to heavier duty fibers like hemp (anti-bacterial) and linen. They also dabble with the use of more modern or innovative materials such as modal or cupro, a soft and silky fabric made in Japan from reclaimed cotton linter – this is the protective seed cover, part of the cotton plant usually wasted during production. The third pillar of their collection is regenerated textile – waste material spun into fiber, used to form fine fabrics and trims such as regenerated PET fibers to keep plastic out of the mounting landfills (where it would otherwise take up to 1000 years to biodegrade).
I could ramble on about their smart use of textiles for ever, but there is so much more to the brand than that, so I was super honoured to interview the Creative Director behind the brand, the incredibly talented Sofia Shannon.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your brand
Hi, my name is Sofia Shannon, and I’m the Creative Director at AMUR. AMUR stands for “A Mindful Use of Resources”, which is how we try to approach all design decisions. We are conscious of our choices regarding the resources we use to make the garments. Whether it’s a choice of materials, processes or suppliers, our mission is to try to make the best decisions based on the impact we have on the environment. Because of this way of facing the process, we end up working with the most beautiful and high quality fabrics.
Tell us about the vision for your brand?
I felt the need to start this brand because for the past few years, I have experienced a shift in the way I started buying products. Whether it was beauty, fashion, or food I chose to eat, I started having a higher level of consciousness of what I want for me, for my life and for my body. I started choosing the products that were made in a healthier, more conscious or more sustainable way, thinking of the impact that products and their processes have on my body and on the environment. I created AMUR because I wanted to design a collection that was aligned with my own values and my lifestyle.
How do you approach sustainability/transparency within your brand?
Our focus is in the materials we use, and our main commitment is down to the fiber itself. We only work with three categories: natural fibers, forest-friendly cellulosic fibers or regenerated fibers. It’s all about picking the best materials we can, making sure we get best quality, while also reducing the impact in the environment.
Within the natural fabrics, we work with organic cotton, silk, linen and hemp. An example our cellulosic fabrics is cupro, which is made with leftover linter from the cotton production. And we’ve developed a lot of regenerated custom fabrics made with waste material spun into fiber, which we use to make lace and satins.
How do you ensure transparency within your business or that you are communicating this with your customers?
We focus on our sourcing, tracing the yarn suppliers of a mill, and requesting certifications – whether they are about organic processes, recycling or safer dyes.
Social media is a great platform for us to communicate directly to our customer. We try to keep them informed about the materials and the story behind each piece we make. We have also partnered with some influencers that focus on sustainability, and that has been a great way to get our message out there. We are still working on our communication – there is still more to tell, but we don’t want to overwhelm our customers with information about every technical aspect.
What more do you think customers are looking for these days beyond good design? Or do you think that design is really all that matters?
Good design is what matters the most. But today there is a higher consciousness and awareness of the development process of a product, which is also tied to quality. The way I see it, your sourcing chain – the way that product was made – is an inherent part of the design of a product. The image still comes first, because it’s the first thing we see when we get introduced to a product. But I do believe consumers are now expecting more value and more meaning behind their purchases. The way we dress has always been a channel to express ourselves, and people are starting to care more and more about the values behind a brand.
How do you ensure quality with your brand?
AMUR is a division of JS Groupe International, which has been in the industry for decades, and has long lasting relationships with exceptional factories. The incredible support and network of JS Groupe International has been instrumental in the development and growth of AMUR. Being a young brand and having the structure of such a seasoned company, has allowed us to ensure the best quality of our products.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to grow your brand?
It is definitely sourcing. One of the hardest developments was our lace. It’s a fabric I always liked working with and finding an eco-friendly option was one of the biggest challenges we took on. We couldn’t find anything in the market that was done in a conscious way so we had to develop our own. We contacted different mills all over the world that had been doing lace for years and we connect them with different yarn suppliers that are developing this yarn made from recycled PET (which comes from plastic waste). Everybody thought we were crazy. But after begging and insisting we convinced them to give it a try. It was a very exciting development because no one else is doing it, plus we were able to custom design our own patterns.Samata wearing AMUR ‘Naya’ dress, pictured with Nadja Swarovski
Find out more about the brand by visiting Amur.com.