As part of our founder interview series, we interview Elisa Ferreras from Semura to talk about the artistic inspiration of her collection, and her dedication to responsible and transparent production.
What motivated you to first create Semura?
Creating my own brand was always an objective while studying fashion design. That primordial objective was further reinforced later in my work experience: I wanted to take control end-to-end of the design process and that only happens if you are truly independent.
What is the style inspiration behind your first collection?
Semura’s first collection is strongly inspired by the all-encompassing artistic movements of the beginning of the 20th century, De Stijl for the colour and geometric identity. Yayoi Kusama is also a relevant influence, to develop Semura’s inner patterns and in the way her installations interrogate the role of the art object in natural surroundings.
Semura is unique in that the inside lining of the bags are as beautiful as the outside! Why did you decide to highlight this feature of the bag?
This is about creating a surprise, light inside the bag when you open it. A bit like entering an Andalusian patio or a Japanese garden: nothing from the rugged, austere external walls would reveal that luxuriance, colours, and life that awaits inside, and I believe there is a true elegance in that. Also, we have put a great deal of passion into designing our own patterns, which are then digitalised and printed onto organic cotton. We want that feature to shine by concealing it!
Semura advocates transparency of production by providing a ‘Production Map’ in which all elements of Semura bags can be traced back to their location of origin. Why is this important for you to show?
This production map is a fundamental aspect of our proposition. We wanted to go beyond the “made in …” label which too often is used by brands to designate where the final steps of the production happen. Most consumer goods today require supplies that come from many places and countries: we believe this information is extremely relevant to the public and welcome the dialogue our productions maps may bring with our customers.
How can we collectively motivate companies to embrace transparency and accountability throughout their supply chain
The simple answer is of course to stimulate people’s curiosity towards the supply chain of the products they buy: why are we obsessively tracking the ingredients and the provenance of the food we buy while paying less attention to the clothes we wear and the chemical processes they may have been through or the carbon footprint and social impacts they may entail
What does “Ethical Fashion” mean to you?
Ethical fashion for Semura is a complete lifecycle which starts from the materials we use, continues with designing products truly made to last through a responsible, honest production and goes on long after we’ve sold each piece. We believe ethical fashion should not be limited to certifications but rather understood as a whole account of all the positive impacts you can generate throughout creating a fashion object.
Leather can be a controversial material. What advice do you have for those who want to purchase leather responsibly
Leather and tanning can be controversial, particularly when its industry creates environmental and social disasters such as those occurring in Dhaka. Again, we recommend to be curious about the brand behind the leather accessories you may purchase.
What are the benefits of vegetable-tanned leather and how does this influence the style and feel of your bags?
Vegetable-tanning bears significantly less impacts on health and ecosystems than the more widely used chrome-tanning. When boiled and dried the chrome-tanned hides let escape many carcinogenic compounds which have a profound impact on the population and animals around the tanneries in countries like India and Bangladesh. On the contrary, vegetable-tanning uses tannins which occur naturally in the bark of the trees, such as the Spanish alcornoque and which have been used for centuries.
From a style and feel perspective, vegetable-tanned leather is less flexible – reason why it is often used for luggage, belts, saddles, etc. – but also more resistant to time and weather conditions. It acquires a beautiful patina over time which only reinforces its natural aesthetics.
What do see as the main problem with ‘fast fashion’ today, and how does Semura combat this trend?
From our perspective, the main issue is that consumers have been educated to want 10 cheap items rather than 1, and generally do not interrogate whether an item has a price which reflects fair and ethical production. Of course, Semura would like to play its part in combatting fast fashion, but we also have to be humble when faced with that struggle, and really narrow it down to a specific objective, to a simple message. From our perspective, it is about delivering lasting fashion statements accompanied by lasting objects. You don’t need seasons, you don’t need new clothes and accessories every 3 months if what you have is good design, giving you a sense of lasting style, attitude and identity: Bauhaus is still fashionable, 80 years after.
How would you like to expand Semura in the future?
Aside from continuing the development of our collection of leather accessories, we are exploring the exciting possibilities of the brand with the production of a Home collection and a Jewelry collection.