interview

SS Brunch with Aurai

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I first came across Aurai before I travelled to New Zealand and I was initially drawn to the name. Aurai are subtle, gentle and difficult to find and they travel across the world through the sea bringing messages to the Gods. Now that I have returned and seen the wonderful country and learnt more about its rich culture, I am more humbled than ever to be able to introduce Natalia, who is the creative force behind this swimwear company which just launched its first collection this summer. Natalia was born in southern Brazil, where she graduated from University and started her career. She moved to Milan, where she pursued a Master’s Degree in Fashion Management at IED and worked in the buying office at La Rinascente. Currently she lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand.

In a world where everything is go go go, why are you attracted to the philosophy of ‘slow fashion’?

My interest in ethical fashion stemmed during my University years from a deep concern about questionable practices within the fashion industry and interest on new approaches in the way we produce and understand fashion. I understand the fascination with famous brands and fast fashion but it’s not a secret anymore the human and environmental cost of our current fashion system.

Besides the environmental concern, the slow fashion movement reinforces that workers should be respected and receive fair wages, designers and brands should be authentic and visionary to influence positively the market, and that customers should be provided with information and encouraged to make better choices when buying.

The way that businesses are conducted has never been more important, and although I won’t save the world making bikinis I feel that I have a responsibility to make it as better as I can. Hopefully I’ll inspire other brands to do the same and people to support small makers.

If you want to learn more about AURAI’s practices click here

In your debut collection, you experimented with fish leather, tell us briefly how the fish leather is made into a swimsuit?

At AURAI we are always searching for new technologies that can help us to develop more sustainable and creative products. I decided to experiment with fish leather after I learned that a local leather company had developed a way to treat fish leather, which is a by-product of the food industry and that often ends up polluting rivers and lakes, disturbing ecosystems and causing consequences beyond known solutions. I thought it could be not only interesting in terms of design and innovation but I also wanted to support their effort in creating such an amazing product.

How do you juggle being a creative and a business woman at the same time?

It’s a learning curve for sure, but nowadays I truly believe that my creativity makes me a better business woman and that my analytical skills help me to design and develop better products. It’s all about balance so I face it everyday as an opportunity to become a more resourceful professional.

My favourite print from the collection is the Koi Fish, what do Koi Fish mean to you?

I’ve always been passionate about Eastern history, culture and aesthetics and I’ve always loved the legend of the Koi Fish, this small but strong creature that swim against currents to the top of the mountain. It represents ambition, courage, perseverance and all the obstacles and successes we encounter in life, so it was a perfect visual symbolism for a first collection 🙂

Any hints on what we can expect in your next collection?

My next collection will be about a ‘journey to the ocean’, the sensation of wonder and delight that comes with touching the sand with our barefeet and feeling the cold salty water on our skin. The prints will tell this story while some pieces will receive beautiful handmade macramê detailing and contrasting ties. My passion for surfing will also be more in evidence in the form of a rash guard and an one-piece suit.

If you are interested in Aurai pieces, now is the time to have a sticky as they’re doing a big sale here. 

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SS Goes to Brunch with Juliet

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I hope you guys are ready for a rather chatty post this hump day. I’m starting a new series on Style Smorgasbord called SS Brunch and today I’m delighted to introduce Juliet from TheJulietReport on Instagram. The idea behind these posts is just to feature other voices and personalities on this blog so you don’t get sick of me and my puns all the time. We’ll talk about all kinds of random stuff and then open the floor to you guys as well so you can join in the conversation too! As a trial, we’re keeping everything lighthearted today but in the future, I would love to delve into some other issues too. And what better meal to pour over our chatty concerns than brunch!? So without further ado, lets give a hand to SS BRUNCH WITH JULIET! I fell out of my chair when she agreed to draw something for Style Smorgasbord and I hope you guys hop over to TheJulietReport for more of her work.

Karen: I thought I would wrap up my holiday posts with several travelling questions so tell me, what’s your favourite city to holiday in? Juliet: Even though I have been there about five times already I still always dream about New York. I feel a special connection with New York. There is always so much to do there, it is a very inspiring place. Karen: That reminds me I need to put Welcome To New York as my phone ringtone, the opening tune is the best!

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Karen: I feel like packing your carry on has almost become a science nowadays. There’s all these special compartment bags you can get and bottles that meet security guidelines … I tend to love overpacking reading material and then abandoning it for in flight entertainment … and then falling asleep! What are your personal in flight essentials? Juliet: I love to keep busy so I have to take my drawing equipment, a new book, magazines, skincare, especially lip balm and a refreshing face spritzer.

Karen: This is a bit of a strange one but I recently got my passport photos taking so I was wondering on a scale of one to ten (one being hate), how much do you like your passport photo? Juliet: Two. It isn’t a very flattering photo. I don’t think it even really looks like me.

Karen: When you step off the plane, are you a Kate Middleton or Miley Cyrus (i.e. polished and fresh or half dead haha)? Juliet: I’d like to think that I’m a Kate Middleton. I always choose style over comfort. Karen: Unfortunately, Miley for me. I just slap on a hat and sunglasses and hope I’m incognito lol.

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Karen: Tell me about your creative process, do you draw at a particular time of the day? What materials do you use? Juliet: I have always been curious and always love to share what I know. Most of  my inspiration comes from my world, the things I do, the people I know and the things that I am interested in. It always begins with an idea, a thought, or a feeling. Depending on where I am or what I’m doing, I usually just keep notes on my phone to remind me, or I take photos of things I’d like to draw. I draw all the time, I draw when I wake up, on the train ride to and from work, at my desk, at cafes on my lunch break. I am a little bit obsessed with drawing, I can’t stop. I love to use watercolour but at the moment I am having a lot of fun with using Copic Markers. Karen: That’s amazing! I can totally see it come through your work as well 🙂

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Karen: When I first came across your feed, one of the things that struck me about your work was the little captions underneath. I personally think they’re charming, witty and relevant but what’s the significance of them? Juliet: The captions are usually things people have said to me, sometimes they are from things that I have read. I never know what they will be until I hear it. It can really be anything that I connect with, anything that makes me think, or question what I already know. The quote usually comes first, however sometimes if I see something I’d really love to draw, I then find a quote that will go with it. Karen: That is so interesting because for me, I always shoot my photographs first and then the caption or title comes later!

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Karen: My readers would like to know your biography … or at least a little about you – what do you do, how you roll? Juliet: I was born in Perth and moved to Melbourne about eight years ago. As I mentioned, I’m super curious so that means I have tried many different things. I have studied, accounting, journalism, makeup artistry, fashion and textiles merchandising and currently I’m in my third year of a Fashion Design Degree. I have worked as a barista, in fashion retail, I worked in Finance for ten years and now I work as an Assistant Designer for a Menswear label and as a Freelance Illustrator. I love doing new things, I love spending time with my friends, I love reading, going to the movies and drinking coffee. Lots of coffee please! Karen: Wow, that is really something, thank you so much for sharing!

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That is a wrap people! I hope you enjoyed this Wednesday special and for now, I will leave you with this box of adorable doughnuts!

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