Adlib Etikology by Nanou Couture presented their ETIKOLOGY line during the Adlib 2016 runway in Ibiza to resounding praise. The brand focuses on telling an authentic story of sustainability and wearability, whilst encouraging consumers to return to slower purchasing and healthier fashion.
Samata interviews Nadege Seguín – designer and natural dye specialist for Adlib Etikology by Nanou Couture, and her partner Luca Criscuolo, the brands’ self-described ‘Specialist Counselor and Promoter in Development and Sustainability Fashion’. The interview with Seguín and Porimā took place at Agroturismo Can Lluc Ibiza – discussing the personal relationship with clothes, herbal colours, synthetic leather and everything in between. Read the interview below and listen to the audio on Samata’s podcast here.
Do you find that the people you are making your clothes for readily embrace your philosophy?
LC: Starting from the beginning, everyone says we are kind of hippies because we try to do nature stuff (we hate that word) but it’s not hippy. I just want to live in a way that my grandfather lived. They respected nature, they respected the times of nature – they didn’t eat strawberries in December. They followed nature’s time and respected those cycled.
NS: These days people want to go fast.
LC: Here in Ibiza we have a clear difference – the people who go very fast with the discos and bars and follow that intensity, yet then we have the Cassita Verde – a small place where you have everything sustainable. They don’t use water for the toilets, they use solar and wind to produce energy – they even have a solar powered kitchen. Everything – bio-construction you name it.
NS: You can find small places in the island which will just surprise you. Yet no-one knows it. They come here for Pascha.
For Red Carpet Green Dress we experimented with natural dyes colouring Naomie Harris’ dress with Chamomile, Golden Rod and we have used Indigo before. Adlib Etikology by Nanou Couture uses natural dyes a great deal, but one of the challenges with natural dyes is the challenge of creating solid colour. How do you overcome that?
NS: If you do it well with the right fabrics you can create a colour that lasts a long time but if you want that exact colour each time again and again, I can not give that to you.colour that lasts a long time but if you want that exact colour each time again and again, I can not give that to you.
LC: I can’t give you Pantone 945.3 exactly, but I can give you between 900 and 1000, and that is something that people need to understand. Nature itself is never the same.
NS: There are some people looking for a specific kind of fashion. There are some people who are looking for something different, unique…when you can see that is is handmade and natural.
What is your definition of sustainability – as it means different things to different people?
NS: Sustainability is a way to live and use the resources you have around, to make them last for the next generation. You are not just getting everything that you need for yourself and your immediate family, but you are producing to make it last in the future, for the next generation. Not using selfishly.
LC: Quite the same as N, it’s a cycle. You have to respect the next generation, even if the one before you didn’t respect them too much. We know the last 3,4,5 10 generations only learnt that nature is bad, ‘kill the spider’, use DDT or whichever pesticides to get as much food as possible and so on. We are just trying to get another old conscience about all of this stuff. The cycle never ends. Waste is so important. What is the real meaning of waste? Because I can say, for example, my pashmina can be used for the next 20 years and I can use it as food for plants – you can just mix it with it and just leave it there. Just mix it in – there are no chemicals in it, it’s all natural! We are talking about nature, then something that is natural is never waste. You can always use it again and again.
Would you say it is about a cycle then?
NS: Yes, and it’s also about respect. Doing things without exploitation. Everyone has their own clear idea about how to product in a sustainable way. For some it is about respecting animals, for others it is about how you source materials and what you use. It is a way to create but still live in peace with the environment and other people. That is sustainability.
Given the definition you have just shared, do you believe that waste exists? If, in a way when people are working sustainably there should be no waste…if everything they don’t need is put into a cycle. Why do you think when people have no use for something, they aren’t interested in finding one?
NS: People see things as disposable. When you have something you need to appreciate it. You have the choice to love it, you need to appreciate it. Don’t throw it away – use it until can’t anymore. If you have a kid who has now outgrown trousers, find someone else to give them too. It’s the same with food, it’s not just because you have organic food that you can waste. You are wasting water and time cooking huge meals with organic food, if you are still going to throw it away after because you made too much.
LC: If we are talking about chemical waste then yes. The recycling is something more of a problem that a solution – for example recycling plastic to make t-shirts or shoes but you are still absorbing all the plastic or chemical stuff into your skin. So, even if you are recycling but you are not doing it good, then you are not recycling well.
Ok, I have to stop you there because let me give you a counter argument. Think about a company like Bionic Yarn or G-Star Raw. We all know there are these dead zones in the ocean. These spaces where nothing can live and where fish are consuming plastic which is just floating. So in order to shift the thinking of the average consumer to see that things like plastic which is in existence – we have to do something with the plastic in existence. Take a company like Bionic Yarn – they are trying to make it interesting, exciting. Right now recycling is not seen as sexy, interesting or exciting. We worked with Ekocycle, will.i.am’s company, for example, who are doing just this. I don’t think you can say if it’s not 100% organic it’s not good because it’s still encouraging people to think differently.
LC: You can use it, and make lots of things with it – you can use it for sole of shoes, tables, just whatever is not in contact with the skin. That’s why we use organic stuff. We already believe we are in so many chemicals during our days, even when we think we are eating something good, we are still eating chemicals – it’s position is so high – so we need to reduce in some way.
With the chemicals being in contact with the skin, I agree the skin is the largest organ and it absorbs all of this – how does this philosophy of breathability get incorporated into your designs?
S: I try to make things which look sophisticated but are also comfortable. It’s not all about yoga pants – if you have to go to work and have your day to day life you want a certain appearance.
I propose in one of my lines what I call the ‘Perfect Dress’ – it’s an organic cotton. Some of my clients are women with cancer who want something they can wear and feel wear.
That’s interesting when you have clients who might have cancer, I do think fashion should not just be OK but be beneficial. Why can’t our clothing hel
p us, not just cl
ost of the synthetic dyes aren’t good in this way. With natural dyes you aren’t absorbing anything harmful into your body.
LC: There are lots of plants which have benefits but we don’t believe that these stay once you have washed the dye.
So it’s more neutral?
LC: Yes, it keeps being neutral.
You are wearing a gorgeous vintage leather jacket – it’s such a shame people don’t buy vintage or older garments as much as they go for new buys because the older stuff has so much character!
LC: Rich people back in the days gave their clothing to their servants to make it softer! They liked it worn-in and weathered.
What is your design philosophy?
NS: I’m from Paris but for 15 years I have been in Ibiza – so I take the bohemian style of Ibiza and the lady-styles in Paris. I also observe what people say and what they truly want.
I personally feel that consumers are treated as if they do not have their own free thoughts, as if they are just consumers to consume, they aren’t there to give feedback. Do you think that now consumers are asking more questions about who is making their clothes and so on? Do you think a change is happening?
NS: I am working to create that shift – talking to friends and encouraging that shift in how they are thinking. When I talk to my friends, I say do you ever ask yourself where it comes from? Maybe not today but in two or three days she will change. There is also so much when it comes to the feedback in publicity, it’s about what you should be instead of who you really are.
LC: These days when they talk about fashion and ecology, they don’t care about it. They want to adapt the customer to the dress but we want to adapt the dress to the customer. When you have a lot of stuff you have to sell it! If I have this one bottle someone will buy it, when you have 10,000 bottles you have to sell it. The point is it’s not about what the customer needs – I don’t care if you need a different kind of bottle I need to sell these.
It’s a very soulful, divine things to be an artist. So let’s say at the beginning you have to make tradeoffs – i.e. you have to go to factory over there for cheaper fabric and then you start trading off. Until you can become a brand who doesn’t care but needs to make money. It’s not easy to make money and stay true to your values – how do you do it?
NS: You need to move a lot and be patient, more than usual. When you are waiting to get economical feedback you have to wait longer. There is a smaller gain on each piece. If a production costs you 5 euros and you can sell is between 20-40 euros you can expect a certain difference.
LC: If your material is 25 Euros the difference is smaller on your markup so it is harder.
Do you think – not sure if it a myth or a fact – that ethical materials or inputs are more expensive than mainstream materials. Do you agree?
LC: People want discounts to buy, we can’t make discounts on our items as our margins are already so small! If you are selling for 20 euros and it cost 5 to make of course your margin is higher. Even selling for 5 euros.
That is the big problem that there are even companies selling t-shirts for 5, that is the bigger problem isn’t it? The consumer has the idea over what is relatively cheaper of relatively expensive. When someone says that t-shirt for 40 is expensive when I can get it there for 5 – when in fact 40 is what it should be and 5 is what it should not be! They don’t know the true cost. But aren’t we too educated to not know the true cost of things?
NS: There is a lot of miseducation. My personal opinion say about vegan fashion, take synthetic leather. I understand you don’t want to hurt animals – but it’s not only done by hurting them with your hands, but if you are destroying their natural living place to get your synthetic materials, you are also hurting them just not with your hands! So you are harming them more. You have other things – Shroom leather, pineapple leather
Tell me more about Shroom leather…
NS: It’s like growing up fabric, like plain shroom spores and when it dries it is exactly like leather. I think synthetic should be avoided – fireman need it to protect themselves not to look good so there are cases when it is important. But for fashion, we need to change the idea of wearing synthetic so easily?
Especially younger children and babies – they have such a sensitive system?
Well, if you look at women though, underwear for example you have synthetics on your skin or menstrual items placed on or in the most sensitive areas. It can be a real problem! There are more cancers, for example.
This information just isn’t available until too late!
NS: Knowing something is toxic is not enough – take tobacco for example. Now we know but it is still being bought even when it costs more and you know what will happen, but we are still doing it. So it is deeper than this, it is about how we feel. With fashion, addiction is about being in the right look in the right moment, you have to spend so much money to do it well. You are never enough.
Ok, so where can we buy your brand? One of my challenges with sustainable designers is you struggle to buy them or find them online?
Yes we are online, our website is www.nanoucouture.com.
Find out more about the brand in Samata’s Huffington Post feature here.