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Q&A: Sidikai - Carlota and Mariana Gramunt

Founders - Sisters, Carlota and Mariana Gramunt

Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and where the desire to design came from?

We come from a very creative family. From an early age, our parents exposed us to art, music, literature, and we could say each sibling has channelled their own creativity towards different disciplines, music, writing, design… In our case, Carlota, the Creative Director of the firm, has always had a double vocation: fashion design and social work. Reconciling both has been a personal goal of hers and Sidikai is the materialization of such vision. Being able to exercise her passion for design with a higher purpose of generating positive impact through it.

Through imagery and shape, we love the stories behind each scarf in the Fixed Air collection. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind this collection?

Fixed Air is an ode to purposeful design. It turned out to be a silk scarf collection almost by chance... It all started as a creative challenge we imposed on ourselves: generate through design and aesthetics the maximum positive impact with the minimum amount of resources. It then translated into a work process in which by applying sustainable design principles throughout the whole production chain (product, packaging, manufacturing, and distribution) we were able to create a beautiful piece with the highest positive impact possible. 

The inspiration for the illustrations comes from the role of air in the urban environment. Air is what we look up and take in when speed, stress and chaos are just too much. The last realm of nature around us, imperceptible and indispensable in equal parts. For us, the perfect metaphor for the importance of purposeful design in positive change. As we like to say, “there is no life without air just as there is no progress without design”.

To express this idea, we played with the perspective of looking from the ground up to different buildings in various metropolitan areas such as London, NY… This creates an interesting set of black/white geometric figures, almost abstract if unfamiliar to the premise, that works beautifully on silk and also helps tie very well the story behind the scarves.

How would you describe your own personal styles?

Our personal style is minimal and clean with a slight edge. We tend to black/white and neutral colours in general and towards less fitted more straight-lined or even oversized clothing. We barely go shopping, though. Our wardrobe has a pretty long life and whenever we need new things, we try to stick to second hand, local or sustainable brands.

You have an ethical approach to crafting Sidikai pieces and we know that you were awarded the Butterfly Mark by Positive Luxury for a company-wide commitment to sustainability. Could you describe your process?

We created Sidikai to exercise our vision to transform the fashion industry by aesthetics, innovation, and commitment. As creators, we feel the responsibility of going beyond personal expression and use our creative process to generate conversation around important issues and create solutions to solve real problems. Only by applying design and creative expression towards a positive impact will actual change happen. Our mantra is:

“We create not just to have something to sell but because we have something to tell.”

Becoming mindful about fashion design means rethinking every step of the value chain, incorporating Circular Economy practices, and fostering social empowerment every step of the way.

Do you have any advice for young designers wanting to start a label or business with a family member, close friend or partner?

Choose wisely because it is a long and bumpy ride! There needs to be mutual respect, trust, and complementarity regarding your areas of expertise, and a solid history of having a healthy relationship cause thing only get more complicated when you add the business layer. In our case, we are lucky enough to have all the above and then some.

As business partners, how would you describe the creative process that you share? Do you both have separate roles in the business?

We are both equally invested in the creative process but diverge in our respective areas of expertise to bring different perspectives to the table. Carlota is the creative designer with years of experience in sustainability, fashion design and a clear vision of what Sidikai is about aesthetically speaking. I bring experience in design and strategic innovation. 

As designers, creating for the sake of it, for the pleasure of beauty, is not enough anymore. That is why we approach the creative process as a form of personal expression equally bound to purpose. We aim to create beautiful pieces in the whole meaning of the word, putting the value in the process, the story behind it, the people involved, the resources taken from the environment and the restoration we can achieve through it all. For us, this is the creative challenge of the century.

Do you have any mentors?

Not really. We do try to read as much as possible and look back to those who pioneered all the different sustainable/conscious ways of approaching design or business. It might be trendy nowadays, but the main ideas have been long discussed by those who saw the need for a different system decades ago. From redistributive and regenerative business models to zero-waste patterning in ancient India or Japan. 

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as entrepreneurs so far?

We started back in 2017 and at the time our core values and commitments were very much against what everyone considered a successful company should do and look like. Not focusing on financial growth only, detaching from the conventional season-based calendar, breaking down and building from scratch an ethical supply chain, reaching out to less normative models… It seems so far back but only 3 years ago sustainability was for outsiders. Today it is widely agreed it is the only way forward. Knowing we are working ahead of our time will always be a hard path, but it is the best fuel to keep going.

Who is the Sidikai customer? What would you like people to feel when they wear a Sidikai piece?

Our customer is anyone who is looking to create their own style through brands with personality, edgy pieces, and inspiring stories. Anyone that is conscious about the power of changing the world through everyday decisions like what to wear or where to buy and that also appreciates the pleasure of aesthetics and design. 

We know, as a brand you are very waste-conscious. What is one thing our readers can do on an everyday scale to minimise their carbon footprint?

No one put it better than Vivienne Westwood and her “Buy Less, Choose Well and Make It Last”. Try to shop local, second-hand, reuse and repurpose. Buy new as a last resort, and if you are buying new make sure to choose a brand or product that considers their environmental impact and does something to reduce and compensate it. We all have complicated lives and it would be unrealistic to adopt this behaviour 24/7. Just being honest with oneself and trying to be as conscious as possible within our means goes a long way.

Lastly, what’s next for Sidikai?

Given the uncertain times we are living in, we have been taking time to reflect on what would be the next step forward for us. We agree at all levels (strategic and practical) that waste is the most pressing and complex challenge the fashion industry is facing today. We have been working on tracing and reducing our impact as much as possible and now is the time to think about what happens to a product once it steps out of the store. Not only our products but the thousands of tons of already circulating clothes that most likely will end up in a landfill. For us this is the next evolution and where we are focusing our creativity and know-how, to evolve our business model towards what we think the future of fashion is headed to.