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Alina Schürfeld has style — which is no wonder, coming from a family where grandmothers wear Missoni and mothers Cavalli. Style that is reflected in Schürfeld’s shoe collection — and that never goes at the expense of sustainability. Early on she recognises the mighty negative impact the fashion industry has on us and our environment — and in 2009 decides to turn it around, founded her namesake label to use fashion as an instrument to correct its wrongs.

Schürfeld fuses contemporary silhouettes with craftsmanship while working with Italian and Spanish artisans, carefully crafting shoes from vegetable- or chrome-free tanned leathers and salmon leathers. Here’s a little insight in her design approach.

Which piece of clothing in your wardrobe have you been wearing the longest?

It’s actually two pieces: one Missoni dress made from Lurex from the 60s that belonged to my grandmother and an embroidered black Cavalli midi leather skirt — slight A-line — that belonged to my mother in the 70s. I love vintage, especially if I have a special emotional connection to the pieces. In addition, these embody a substantial trait of sustainable fashion: longevity. When quality and design come together; a distinctive line that reflects the fashion of its time, yet is original and — exactly for that reason — timeless. This is my goal with my own collection. However, timeless does not necessarily equal classical and simple.

Photography: Kerstin Jacobsen • Model: Luca Aimee • Earrings: Rita in Palma • Hair and Makeup: Sheilawanted
What does luxury mean to you?

Diversity and authenticity.

You have founded your label in 2009, long before sustainability became a trend. What was your motivation?

Sustainability was the starting point. The fashion industry has disastrous, often irreparable socio-cultural and ecological effects. However, because it does have such an impact, at the same time, it is a mighty and effective instrument to correct all its wrongs. Because next to philantrophic aspects, treating humans and nature with respect is a vital requirement for the conservation of our socio-cultural and ecological environment.

This is the guideline I have founded ALINASCHUERFELD with in 2009. The products tell a story about traditional craftsmanship, quality and appreciation — about time, passion and responsibility. They raise awareness and offer the consumer, as well as the industry, a wearable alternative that is acceptable at the same time.

You’re a pioneer in sustainable fashion — what are the windmills you have to fight?

Finding reliable suppliers was a big challenge. But I think this is a fight every young label has to fight. Finding materials was more arduous than today. Back then, there weren’t too many contemporary alternatives. And we first had to find the alternatives that go with our concept. Today, there are more and more sustainable alternatives. There are digital platforms, for example, or dedicated areas at trade shows that promote forward-looking materials. Sustainable materials are way more accessible now.

Our clear positioning in the premium segment was another obstacle: on the one hand we were not (yet) known enough to be carried in renowned high end fashion stores, on the other we were  not attractive for our eco conscious target group regarding our price points. We found our way and currently cater to selected, mostly privately owned and independent stores. Our next target is to become more international through relevant opinion leaders.

Would you rather be perceived as a fashion label or a sustainable one?

Fashion, definitely. One doesn’t exclude the other.

 

Thanks to Alina for taking the time to speak with us, and to Björn Lüdtke for the interview.

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