Coming from a background studying Software Engineering and Information Science, Maria didn’t take the traditional path toward working in the Sustainable Fashion Industry “I had no experience or contacts within the Fashion Industry and I wanted to innovate in Sustainable Fashion.” She took the decision one day to take everything she has learnt through her vast experience with multinationals in many cultures and pour her heart into setting up a business with a positive impact. Canussa! Maria spoke of inspirations such as Javier Goyeneche from Ecoalf and Patxi Sota from El Naturalista. She is proud of them as fellow Spanish designers as they have positively impacted the fashion industry whilst gaining an international presence – quite the dream.
Canussa is a Spanish brand creating sustainable accessories that are stylish, practical and high quality whilst first and foremost respecting the environment and everyone in it. Their products are sold on their website, at a Sustainable and Vegan Marketplaces in Europe and Sustainable and Vegan Fashion Stores around Europe. It is important for the brand to be sold by experts in Sustainable and Vegan fashion so they are able to communicate the wonder behind Canussa.
Canussa’s Vision is to be the most recognized global brand of high quality, stylish, vegan and sustainable accessories by innovating in circular fashion and social impact. Maria tells us that the 4 main values of Canussa are respect, quality, transparency and honesty. The ethos of the brand is ‘Designed with purpose’ and the mission is it to create stylish, practical and long-lasting fashion respecting people, the planet and the animals.
One of the difficulties as a sustainable brand within the fashion industry is getting consumers to value that doing things right has a price. Canussa manufactures locally in Europe using high quality, sustainable fabrics which naturally implies a higher price than customers are used to pay in this fast fashion consumer society. A lot of greenwashing goes on within the fashion sector, in which low cost brands can present themselves as sustainable when their practises do not actually reflect this either in material, quality, production conditions or commercial practices - which can be an obstacle for brands like Canussa which truly seek for the sustainability at different angles.
Every operation involved with Canussa shares the same ethical and environmental values and policies as they do, including their suppliers and distribution channels. The brands suppliers are located in Spain ensuring they can maintain a close relationship with the workshop and ensure responsible working conditions. Maria says “in Spain we have got laws that protect the workers and we pay tax which means we are contributing to the welfare state.”
The fabrics used by Canussa are highly resistant, respect the environment and are recycled or recyclable where possible. Canussa is Vegan PETA Approved certifying they do not use any fabric that comes from animals. Their up-cycled textile is RGS approved and their exterior fabric has got an OEKO-TEX certification. Through choosing high quality materials, the garments are long lasting and therefore promote reducing overall consumption. Limiting the amount of waste produced and recycling what cannot be salvaged is part of their sustainable process too. Canussa aims to be 100% circular, currently working toward becoming a triple bottom line business.
When Canussa began they were using chrome-free leather as this was thought to be the all-round best choice for the brand. After a few months of being fully immersed in sustainability and in-particularly the vegan community, Maria recognised it was a contradiction to use animal leather as a sustainable brand. “Of course being vegan does not mean being sustainable but somehow I cannot see being sustainable without being Vegan. Even if most of the leather that is used for fashion comes from the food industry, I can see now the animal cruelty behind the food industry and I decided not to be part of that chain.” It is inspiring to hear such honesty from Maria, no person or brand can be perfect right at the beginning but by educating ourselves we can make great change step by step.
There is currently a lot of discussion surrounding the sustainability of leather alternatives. Some, can surprisingly be damaging the environment and others are not actually very long lasting. If you look into some ‘organic’ materials, Maria tells us, you can find they are made up of over 70% PU, which is really difficult to recycle and comes from petroleum.
Canussa’s current choice of vegan leather is a microfiber. Maria explains it is the best option for their brand as they want to offer a highly resistant product, one that will stand the test of time. “To us resistance is very important because if a product is not durable, it cannot be sustainable and will generate much more waste in the course of time.” Canussa is currently working on a new recycled leather alternative – they are trying out a recycled microfibre and corn as well as cork supported with Seaqual.
Canussa understands there is still a lot of work to be done for the brand, as this is Maria’s passion project there is pure motivation inspiring the development of Canussa. “We can say now we are becoming one of the top truly sustainable brands within the Fashion Industry as we are working sustainably 360 degrees.” The brand is planning on increasing their social impact in Spain by collaborating with social workshops. Due to Covid-19 many pop-ups have been cancelled but Canussa will still be at several run by sustainable marketplaces in locations around Europe. The brand is becoming highly popular in the Nordics and Germany, as there seems to be a higher conscience toward sustainability there.
Maria finished by saying “I am really happy and challenged to see that there are more and more consumers that appreciate what we are doing. Everything we do, does not make sense if there are no consumers thats appreciate how we do things and are willing to pay the real cost of doing things right.”
+ Words: Cerys Matthews, Luxiders Magazine Editor