Goldrad: “The Fashion Industry in General has to Change Drastically”

CEO of Goldrad, Alexandra Donath-DeFries
CEO of Goldrad, Alexandra Donath-DeFries

The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, so the need for more eco- conscious design is imperative. Goldrad is a sustainable luxury handbag label that is 100% vegan, creating high-end handbags in a category which they call “mindful vegan luxury”, using only eco-friendly and cruelty-free materials.

The company was founded by Alexandra Donath-DeFries and Ruben Donath in 2018 with their head office located in Zurich, Switzerland. Goldrad made it their mission to bring more high-end products to the premium accessoire market by proving that it is possible to make a luxury item with no cruelty and no animal products involved

We spoke with founder and CEO Alexandra Donath-DeFries about the progressive world of sustainable fashion.

Which new vegan materials are especially of interest to you at the moment?
I just recently heard from a friend about all the developments in new materials. A couple of scientists are trying to create things like leather, fur and feathers in a lab – just like it is done with the artificial meat. Companies like Bolt Threads which are working on things like artificial spider silk or Pembient, who are creating rhino horns via 3-D printing are completely fascinating to me and this is something I will definitely keep my eyes on. Of course this will still all take some time and it is cost-wise not feasible at the moment, but once it’s done it will completely revolutionize the entire material market. Not to think of how much good it would do to the environment and the animals.

For future collections I will look much more into the new all natural derived materials like Vegea, the different fruit leathers or tree and mushroom leather, even though I tend to believe that climate change will also affect the production of some of these materials a bit.

goldrad
©Goldrad

When I first created the brand I tried to find materials that would fit my requirements, but I was not super happy with the natural leather substitutions that were available for production at that time. I decided for eco-friendly PU as an outside material and do the rest with recycled materials – like all the lining, the dustbags – all made from recycled PET bottles and our boxes from recycled paper. Even our business cards are made from recycled T-Shirts. But every good thing develops with time and you learn. So for future collections I would definitely go into all natural materials and even try to make the production even more sustainable and efficient, because this is really just the most important factor to me at the moment.

Which of your products is the bestseller and why?
Definitely the Dallas Superstar, it is a great all-rounder for day and night. It upscales every outfit – no matter how casual, you always look stylish with it. Also the Minimoto Micro Bag, that was sold out very quickly.

Why should the fashion industry continue to acknowledge veganism?
The fashion industry in general has to change drastically – for itself and our planet to survive. It is after all one of the main polluting industries that ruin the planet. This includes not only to adapt vegan fashion but also sustainable and slow fashion. We are facing very very difficult times and the problem is, most of the population doesn’t seem to be getting the picture at all.

The people are consuming like there is no tomorrow and I am afraid they will continue to do so. High street fashion companies come out with new collections not twice a year, but once a week. This is – mildly speaking – a complete disaster. To come back to vegan fashion – most people are not aware how much animal is really in their clothing and accessories. Even if they buy a pair of faux leather sneakers there is a great chance that the glue, the coating or even the thread contains animal byproducts. It is just insane and very unnecessary. Billions of animals suffer horribly for this industry – and also uncountable humans as well, not to forget this. So as a matter of fact we do have basically a lot of the same problems we are facing in the food industry which is not only a complete nightmare for animals, but also for the pollution of the planet.

Alexandra Goldrad
Image courtesy of Alexandra Donath-DeFries

I would like to add that actually all consumer goods companies – may it be cosmetics or household items – must change their production and company ethics very rapidly and basically do a complete 180. If most of the major brands would switch their products to vegan and sustainable products and also their production to being more sustainable – which is absolutely not rocket science – we would see such an incredible difference. I see a lot of talking about sustainability efforts, but no real action. In the end it’s just marketing. You could say that we as consumers have a big impact on the development of the products, but looking at the stage this planet is in right now this is not gonna cut it. There are a lot of people out there who really try to be thoughtful about what they buy, but this is not enough. The majority of people doesn’t care at all and just buy whatever is cheap or whatever they want to buy. And therefore it is so important that the company ethics change, because they have the responsibility for everything. The masses just follow what is offered to them.

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