Luxury comes in many forms but often at a significant cost to the planet. This U.S.-based company aims to make your home and pool lounging both opulent and eco-friendly with vegan silk-based products that draw attention to sustainability in material selection, manufacturing practices and post-consumer waste.
niLuu offers a stunning collection of loungewear that seamlessly doubles as swimwear coverups. Long and short robes, shorts, pants, wraps, pillowcases and even sleep masks are all made using a PETA-approved vegan silk. No silkworms are used in the products, and no animal proteins are used in production. According to the company, “To create traditional silk, over 1,000 silkworms are boiled to produce enough yarn for a single pillowcase. Additionally, and you might not even know it, materials such as bone marrow and egg yolk are used in traditional industrial fabric softeners, even for cotton fabrics.”
For a capsule wardrobe, the solid and print pieces can be mixed and matched, and the company’s focus on quality equates to a long lifecycle. If the articles do find their way to a landfill, they are fully biodegradable, losing half their weight in just two months.
The material, called Cupro, is the result of a long-standing relationship between material developers and manufacturers in Turkey, where the founder of niLuu, designer Nilufer Bracco, is from. She carefully selected her direct material supplier, Ipeker Tekstil, based on its history in the region as a top fabric manufacturer renowned for its sustainability efforts. As Bracco explained, “Ipeker has a 150 year old history, the majority of which in traditional silk. As a matter of fact, Ipeker means ‘Silk Men’; and it is also the last name of the family that owns the company. Interestingly, a company with such a long history in silk had actually determined that silk is not sustainable and that alternatives from a vegetarian origin should be developed.”
Ipeker’s long-standing relationship with material development company Asahi Kasei has resulted in many fabrics. “I chose to work mostly with a 100% Bemberg® fabric because it reproduces the smoothness of traditional silk best.” Bracco explained that the material offers a weight, texture and feel that exudes luxury as well as function. Cupro is a fiber derived using cotton seeds, which were previously considered a wasteful byproduct of the cotton industry.
Ipeker has also been recognized as the top sustainable company in Turkey, which adheres to an internal Blue Balance Sustainability Programme (BSOB). BSOB sets a standard for fair wages and worker safety as well as resource-saving practices. Put into action, this means low water consumption, a low carbon footprint and cruelty-free material production. The plant uses only recycled water for a closed-loop system. Ipeker has also developed a way to recycle dye waste into fresh dyes.
“We still need to ship materials and products, factories need to run using energy and resources, etc.,” Bracco said. “But our suppliers are leaders in their sustainability initiatives…Asahi produces it’s Bemberg® in a closed loop facility, ensuring there are no harmful chemicals dumped in the environment.”
In fact, Asahi acquired a LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) in 2016 and has earned certifications for INNOVHUB Biodegradability, GRS (Global Recycled Standard), Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and ISO14001, a standard that acknowledges the reduction and prevention of environmental impacts.
The Cupro Yarn is produced in Japan in a plant with onsite energy production, and 40% of the energy consumed is renewable. The energy is derived from sources such as hydropower and biomass power generation as well as solar. All waste is captured and reprocessed, recovering solvents before they enter waterways and using waste to create energy. Exhaust heat is recycled to lower heat loss and CO2 emissions.
Knowing that no business can maintain 100% sustainability, niLuu offsets through a membership to 1% for The Planet, with a chosen nonprofit that plants trees to combat deforestation. In addition, the company donated 10% from all its revenue to the Sustainable Ocean Alliance for one month following Earth Day.
All products are designed in Miami, where the company is based. Inasmuch, the brand has a front-row seat to the impacts of climate change. As a young, vibrant company, niLuu has set its sights on creating a luxury brand without compromise for protecting the planet and workers.
To drive the message home, Bracco said, “Our quest for sustainability is the primary reason for us to be in business. We simply do not consider anything that we deem to be unsustainable. By that I mean products that are made with (1) disregard to the impact to the environment, (2) unfair labor conditions, or (3) animal cruelty. While these are our principles, we recognize we live in an imperfect world, so we like to think of sustainability as a journey and not a destination where everything is perfect.”
Images via niLuu