Sign Us Up for This Sustainable PETA-Approved “Silk” Robe Brand
The latest fashion personality test is less about minimalist versus maximalist and more about which kind of loungewear you prefer. For those who feel the draw to fancy robes over sweatpants or yoga gear, there is a new sustainably minded brand on the market.
Launching this summer with a collection of long robes, pillowcases, and eye masks priced from $60 to $920, niLuu creates its products from the first PETA-certified vegan and cruelty-free “silk,” which is made with an ethical process that skips the entire silkworm aspect of traditional production. As for the Miami-based brand’s designs, founder Nilufer Bracco finds inspiration in the cultural tradition of luxury textiles from her homeland of Turkey.
Committed to the environment, niLuu is also pledging to donate 1 percent of its annual revenue to the environmental nonprofit 1% Percent for the Planet. Ahead, BAZAAR.com speaks with Bracco about launching her brand for our collective “robe life” during a pandemic, designing consciously, and what’s next for her brand.
Why did you want to launch a loungewear/sleepwear collection? Was it in the works pre-COVID?
It was definitely in the works pre-COVID. In fact, I had engaged with my supplier as far back as January 2019 but more intensely from fall 2019. By the time COVID became a pandemic in March of this year, we were well underway with the project with an initial target launch date of May. With COVID, I initially wondered if it made sense at all to continue with our plans with such uncertainty about the impact on the economy, not just on the U.S. but the entire world.
After an initial doubt, I decided to go ahead, because I wanted to honor my commitments to my supplier and the atelier that makes the pieces, and also because I thought the online business would be able to be developed even during the pandemic and the lockdowns. COVID did, however, affect production. National lockdowns in Turkey disrupted production and the supply chains. But little by little, we overcame those and were able to finally launch in August.
While the choice of developing a loungewear line seems to be perfectly timed for the new stay-at-home lives that we live, the reality is that I was inspired to develop this line, because I thought it would be perfect for the fabric I would be using and bringing to market. I have worked closely with my supplier as they were developing these new fabrics and was truly wowed by, on the one hand, the comfort and feel of the fabric on your skin and, on the other hand, by the incredible printing my supplier can achieve. Comfort and color richness that I have only seen in silk before, but without any harm to animals in the process.
What or who was your inspiration for the collection?
I am inspired by the inside/outside living of the places that I love. The endless Miami summer lounge scene; the open-air clubs by the Bosphorus in Istanbul and everywhere along the Aegean coast of Turkey (like Bodrum) and the Greek islands. The Montauk bars and restaurants in the summer and the winter getaways to my favorite place, St. Barts in the Caribbean. I was also inspired by how brands like Dolce & Gabbana had taken an everyday item like pajamas and turned them into a very cool trend.
What have you been wanting to wear personally these last few months?
It’s easy while staying at home all the time and interacting with people mostly through Zoom to become sloppy—wearing the same things day in and day out. Sometimes, you put on your gym clothes to work out and end up keeping them on most of the day.
After a few days, I actually started losing it. I like and feel better when I am put together. So, of course, I am loving to be able to have my kimonos finally with me, so I can wear them almost every day. Whether in the morning to go get my coffee. Or on top of my jeans and T-shirt when we are working, and conferencing. So I guess, what I am liking is comfortable chic.
Why did you want the brand to be vegan friendly?
My goals were actually to create products with sustainable practices without any animal cruelty whatsoever. I feel a deep love for animals and all living things. And I also really worry about the future of our planet—particularly climate change. I have been learning a lot about sustainability and am really encouraged that more and more brands talk and think about it. While no one is perfect, talking about it makes you choose options that are better for the environment. And if you can make that choice, why wouldn’t you do it? For niLuu, I sought and chose to work with fabrics that are sustainable and free of animal-cruelty, and I am very proud to be doing just that.
What is the process of creating vegan silk? What does it mean to be PETA approved?
To be clear, vegan silk is not silk. It looks and feels like silk, but no silkworms were killed in the process of making it. In our case, we use cupro, which utilizes the lint surrounding the cotton seed, which is typically discarded at harvest. The raw material is transformed into a very thin and long fiber that is the basis of the cupro yarn. Our cupro is branded Bemberg, which is exclusively produced in Japan by Asahi Kasei. Bemberg is produced in closed-loop facilities with minimum use of water and minimum waste. In fact, waste is used for power generation, in keeping with sustainable practices.
Our fabrics are then produced in Turkey by İpeker, which is a leader in sustainability and has led the effort in developing the vegan-certified fabric. Interestingly, İpeker actually used to be a silk producer. İpek means “silk” in Turkish. As consciousness on sustainability developed, they realized traditional silk was neither sustainable nor humane and set to develop alternatives that could deliver the same or better characteristics: color richness, feel, comfort.
Finally, to be PETA-approved vegan means exactly that. That no animals were used in the process of making our products. We are happy to have that recognition.
Who is the ultimate niLuu icon?
I would say Lauren Hutton for her incredible elegant yet simple style over five decades. And also Kate Hudson, with her free-spirited West Coast style but also very grounded on the idea of sustainability.
Where would you like to see the brand in five years?
Everywhere! Jokes aside, I would like to see it as part of a meaningful conversation about sustainable fashion. I want to deliver an expansive product line taking full advantage of our fabrics. Tops, pants, shorts, scarves … I would also like to develop our linen line. Sleeping on our pillowcases is heavenly. Hopefully soon, we will have sheets to match.
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