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Discovering SKFK: Sustainable Brand from Spain

SKFK, a sustainable brand, has a deeply rooted commitment to transforming our perception of clothing and raising awareness about fashion in the present era. Their active involvement in this transformation, aims to inspire and encourage consumers to make thoughtful and responsible choices. SKFK's designs are characterized by their uniqueness, drawing inspiration from art and culture. They cater to women, offering a timeless, functional, and comfortable style that resonates with individuals seeking a distinctive and enduring fashion statement.

With the goal of shedding light on the brand's journey and its evolution, IRK is conducting an interview with SKFK. Through this exchange, they hope to showcase SKFK as an exemplary model of aspiration and awareness, inspiring others to follow suit. The Brand was founded in Spain in 1999 by Mikel Feijoo Elozo, and today IRK is interviewing the creative director and general director, Maia Curutchet. By sharing the story behind the brand's success and values, the interview aims to ignite a spark within individuals, encouraging them to embrace a more conscious approach to fashion while considering the impact their choices have on the environment and society as a whole.

Maia Curutchet, Creative director and General director

IRK: If you had to describe SKFK with three adjectives, what would they be?

Maia: SKFK is creative, fearless and artsy. We are really connected to the creation of the clothes and the design, but also with art. Since 2010, we’ve collaborated from artists all over the world, that are now part of the SKFK family and that have helped us create a unique identity.

IRK: What was the first decisive step in creating your brand that led to all the others?

Maia: We built a brand from the ground up. From the beginning, we have defended our roots and our DNA, and we do not go with the flow of the fashion industry. Immediacy, trends, compulsive buying are ideas that do not suit us and our way of understanding and making fashion

IRK: Is SKFK born to be sustainable, or did it evolve over time?

Maia: We started in the late 90's at music festivals. We were not born as a sustainable brand, but our love for nature and the environment led us to where we are today. We are curious by nature and have always wanted to learn more. This curiosity has led us to question and change the way we produce. We traveled a lot to the countries of production, we met the farmers and the people who work in the factories. All of this made us rethink and change for the better.

IRK: What part was the most difficult to make sustainable in the whole process? from conceiving and creating to selling and shipments?

Maia: We see sustainability as a holistic process within the company. From farming to manufacturing to transportation. When we understand everything as a whole, it is easy to identify the parts where we need to improve. That has been the key for us from the beginning.

IRK: Does your effort toward sustainability influence the creation and creative direction of your collections?

Maia: Being sustainable isn't just about choosing certified fabrics; it's much more complex. When we design, we decide which fabrics and fibers are better for each piece, how to make it durable. But I wouldn't say that it directly affects the creative process. We are a design brand, but we work to make our pieces sustaina

IRK: What were the influences and creative inspirations that brought SKFK to life?

Maia: I have a degree in Fine Arts and it is a very important part for me. I have a very special relationship with street art because of my friends who are urban artists and who introduced me to this discipline.

One of the central axes of the brand is creativity and art, and we capture that in every collection.

I would say that there are many forms of art that inspire me, but I love being able to translate nature and urban culture and have our customers feel that connection.

As artistic references, I could mention Yayoi Kusama, Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Grems, Camille Walala or Vivienne Westwood, who was one of the great activists in fashion.

IRK: What is something you think every brand could easily do to become more sustainable?

Maia: We decided to take a different path out of curiosity, and our desire to learn and improve was the key to taking this step. We have been able to put people and learning at the center of our work and concerns.

SKFK has been at the forefront of sustainable fashion and certifications. We believe we have paved the way for many others who have decided to commit to sustainability and responsible practices within the fashion industry.

For us, it is not just about certifications, but also about making mistakes and learning from them. Acknowledging our mistakes is a mindset. It is also important to take a holistic view of sustainable fashion and not just look at one of the stages of production; to understand everything as a whole and that each of the steps is important to build the foundations of transparent sustainability.

IRK: Before your brand was known as Skunkfunk, what made you decide to do a rebranding?

Maia: SKFK is actually Skunkfunk. After the 2019 rebrand, we decided to use the diminutive of Skunkfunk and update our image, but the essence of who we are and where we came from is still there.

Throughout our journey, many people have helped us create the DNA of the brand and we have established some very strong pillars of creation and values.

We have absorbed everything that this learning process has brought us and we keep it very present in the company every day: when creating our collections, when defending a positioning as an independent brand. Preserving and protecting our origins enriches the brand we are today.

Photo courtesy by SKFK

IRK: Which are the best choices a customer of your brand could make to help reduce CO2 emissions?

Maia: Something we are very concerned about at SKFK, and something we feel is not given the importance it deserves, is returns. We see an increasing trend of customers buying the same product in multiple sizes. Having to return garments has an impact on the environment. We believe that by making more conscious purchases, we can be part of a positive change and reduce our environmental footprint.

We also believe it is important to take care of your clothes and love them for a long time. Washing less and following the washing instructions greatly reduces the impact on the environment and is something we can easily do at home.

These small gestures can make a big difference.

IRK: In your production, do you focus more on finding organic sources or trying to work with recycled and recyclable materials?

Maia: The truth is that we work with both materials because of the different things they can do for us. You have to understand and know each fiber well. Certified organic cotton, for example, is very comfortable and feels like a second skin; we only use recycled polyester in outerwear because of its durability and because it is a garment that is washed less often and avoids the microplastic shredding. I think it's important to have a range of fibers in your collection without giving up any of them.

IRK: How much would you say a sustainable lifestyle is present in the staff and in the space you work in?

Maia: For us, sustainability is a natural part of our daily lives. We live surrounded by nature, mountains, places where we can breathe fresh air. We all understand that we cannot be part of the problem, but part of the solution. That's why each of us does our part as best we can. Our offices are located in a small town near Bilbao, surrounded by trees and mountains. It could not be otherwise.

IRK: Do your shops around Spain, France, and Chile follow rules to be more sustainable?

Maia: I believe that all of our employees share the company's philosophy and vision. It's not something we've imposed, it's something we share. For example, all our stores and the head office are powered by renewable energy.

In addition, we often give sustainability workshops to our team so that they are well trained and we encourage our employees to use public transportation or bicycles to commute to work.

IRK: How can customers be sensitized to brand impacts on the earth and check if brands are greenwashing or have real certificates, like SKFK shows?

Maia: The key is transparency. Consumers need to know where their clothes come from, who makes them, and under what conditions. Certifications provide reassurance, but they are not always real. It is possible to buy a fabric that is Fairtrade certified, but the rest of the production process does not meet the requirements. That's why it's important to ask questions and find out more. It is very easy to fall into the trap of greenwashing, but companies need to be transparent and provide enough information for the customers to make an informed choice.

IRK: Do you think the future of clothing could lean on rental and upcycling?

Maia: The rental of our clothes is a project that we started with great enthusiasm and that has been well received by our public. It is important for us to explore other forms of consumption and give our customers the opportunity to consume less and better.

The average European buys 60% more clothes than 15 years ago and keeps them half as long. We believe it is our responsibility to educate and inform our customers. We have lost the relationship between the manufacturer and the end consumer, who is not aware of what it really takes to make a product and all the resources it consumes. After three months, a new garment is no longer exciting and ends up in the back of the closet, a real waste of materials and resources. It is up to us to reinvent ourselves and create new value in alternative consumption models.

Photo courtesy by SKFK

IRK: What is the next step that SKFK wants to take to be better than before? What is your dream goal for 5 years from now?

Maia: We will continue to focus the collections on creating garments that have a creative process behind them and that defend the brand's main axes of creativity, design and sustainability. When designing the collection, we also focus a lot on making sure that the garments make sense as a whole; that there are image garments, but also other more timeless, quality pieces.

IRK: Is there a sense of community and combining of resources between sustainable brands?

Maia: I think it is very important to listen to other brands, their concerns or doubts. Sharing ideas helps us learn and improve. Undoubtedly, there is still a lot to be done, but working hand in hand with other colleagues and friends makes it much easier.

IRK: Do you consider trends in your design process? What is your goal, for creating, when you design your clothes ?

Maia: I think SKFK is the opposite. We go against trends and what the fashion world sets. We create timeless clothes, with a strong identity, with prints designed by our team...the people who love SKFK look for something different in us, they feel identified with this identity we create through our clothes. We stand for a different kind of fashion; an author's fashion in a prêt-à-porter textile sector that is usually not strong in this sense and that has been carried away by trends and fast fashion.

IRK: Does the use of organic and recycled materials affect the designs?

Maia: Quite the opposite. Our entire collection is made with low-impact fibers such as certified organic cotton (Fairtrade® and GOTS), TENCEL™ or LENZING™ ECOVERO™. These fibers are responsibly produced to minimize environmental impact, but they are also much better on the skin because no pesticides are used to grow them. When customers touch the garments, they always talk about the quality of the fabrics, and this is something that is important to emphasize.

Beyond the use of fibers, we have always focused on the design, art and creation of our garments, without letting sustainability compromise it. In this way, we have taken on the challenge of finding a way to bring our garments to life in a sustainable way.

IRK: Your brand is based on a slow fashion model; do you think it is also possible for fast fashion brands to be as sustainable as you are? Maybe in different ways?

Maia: We live in a consumer culture. Without a doubt, I believe that fashion can become a vehicle for positive change. We want to put in place the importance of taking the time to create a collection, something that has been forgotten with the immediacy of fast fashion.

We have the power to become agents of change, to make consumers more aware of their consumption habits and the origin of their clothes, to make them question how the clothes they buy are produced.

We live in a world where we have allowed ourselves to be swept up in the transience of trends and the sense of immediacy. We need to take the time to think and reflect.


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