Created in 2015 by Paloma Canut and Ana Marroquín, Sunad was established as a shirt-only, entirely “Made in Spain” label. The two founders, both originated from Madrid, met at Parson’s, Paris and New York, and went on to work in the graphic- and interior design industry, before deciding to quit their jobs to focus on their brand full time. Since its inception, they were dedicated to run Sunad sustainably: all products are designed, cut and assembled in Spain; premium-quality, natural fabrics (cotton and luxurious silk) are ethically sourced; local manufactures are paid a fair salary. We sat down with Canut and Marroquín to discuss starting their business amidst recession, committing to a sustainable work ethic and organically growing their brand.
Not both of you were directly involved with fashion. What triggered your interest towards this field and, particularly, sustainable fashion?
We studied at Parson’s The New School for Design, first in Paris and then in New York, where we were always very exposed to the fashion industry. When we each went into different fields, we still looked to fashion for inspiration and aesthetics, and it was after a while that we realized we couldn’t find the product we needed. We both love nature, and it seemed obvious to us that in the times we live in, if you are starting a business, it should be something environmentally friendly and ethical.
How did you decide to work together and why did you choose shirts?
It was a very simple start, we both loved shirts and couldn’t find the perfect shirt – we felt that in the market there wasn’t a similar product; something ethically made, exclusively with 100% natural fabrics, Spanish, and cheaper than luxury brands. On top of that, we share the same aesthetics and values. From the beginning, we wanted to focus on just one product to make sure that we guarantee the best quality.
You started your brand within recession; unfavorable circumstances often set the ground for creativity to thrive. How do you think they aided your brand’s success?
We couldn’t agree more. We’ve seen a big boom of creativity in Spain through these years, especially among young people. I think in our case it gave us the courage to take the first step.
Design and manufacturing take place in Madrid. Could you please discuss sourcing the raw materials needed for production?
We ultimately look for the best-quality fabrics, and there are certain ones, like silk, that, even if we buy from a Spanish supplier, we’re aware that they have imported them from China. We want to find the best quality, and for that we have to look worldwide. However, all our buttons are made in Spain, and our shirts are designed, cut and produced in Spain. Being able to do this in Spain is very important to us, as it’s a country with a long history and tradition in textiles that was being lost due to cheaper costs abroad. We’re aware that we would make more money, if we produced elsewhere, but it’s not about that, it’s about keeping the carbon footprint low and helping this tradition continue through time in Spain.
Tell us about challenges to source exclusively natural fibers to create your shirts. Where did you educate yourselves about the raw materials you choose, and how did you decide on them? Are there any materials you will be adding soon in your collections?
The challenge is that synthetic fabrics have experienced a big boom in the past years; they’re cheaper and faster to produce. A lot of textile companies have stopped offering most of their 100% natural fabrics catalogue, in order to offer artificial ones which limit the options available to us. Since the beginning, we knew it would be a struggle, but we weren’t quite aware of how much. However, we believe this will change, and we’ll revert to old times, where there are many more options within the 100% natural fibers world.
Using natural fibers is a must for us: every time you wash a synthetic fabric, non-biodegradable microfibers are dropped into the water and end up in the oceans. Natural fibers last longer, and never lose their smell or their original shape. Our AW17 collection features a shirt made from organic cotton and another one made out of modal and milk protein, a new component we’re very excited about.
I am noticing that many designers and brands entering the market today are focusing on one product category. In your case, could you please weigh in the pros and cons of this decision?
It helped us ensure that we knew the product we were putting out there was exactly how we wanted it to be. We can perfect the pattern and fabrics, and make sure we know our product well. However, it does limit us; there’s only so much you can do to create a shirt. This is why for the next season we’ve created the “Sonora” jacket, a piece that is not a shirt, but inspired by it.
Many highly successful fast-fashion retailers have originated from Spain. How is slow fashion and Sunad, particularly, received in the Spanish market?
In a way, Spain has experienced fast-fashion from it’s birth, and watched it grow and really bought into it. It’s funny to think that something as global as that movement was born in Spain, when usually Spain isn’t considered a trendsetter or even an early adopter of trends. Slow fashion is only starting to grow in Spain; people are not so conscious about their consumer habits and the idea of investing in quality rather than in quantity. It’s a huge movement elsewhere, so we hope it will trickle-down to Spain, too.
I’ve read you would possibly like to expand into menswear in the future. How will you know when the moment would be right to take the next step?
Right now, we’re still a very young brand, and have a lot to learn. Once we’ve established ourselves more, and things are steady, we will definitely consider a move in to menswear. We want to really know our product and the women that buy it before we start something else.
What are you working on right now, and what are some of your company plans within 2017?
At the moment, we are working in our SS18 collection; samples will be handed to us soon, and we’ll shoot the lookbook in July, which means soon we will be ready to start looking into AW18! We try to collaborate with someone else each season, and we’re talking to amazing people that we really admire at the moment. We will also be attending our first show in the US this September.