Lydia Leu-Sarritzu holding the Blanlac's best-selling "Belledonne" shoe
This week, a pair of heels designed by Luxembourg startup Blanlac will make their debut on the red carpet in Cannes, where they will be worn by a BBC presenter.
Lydia Leu-Sarritzu, founder of the company, is being modest when she calls this a “small victory”. The company she runs with her sister, Sophia (based in Rome), launched just over a year ago, in April 2018, but has already been featured by the likes of Vanity Fair UK and Bare Fashion, the UK’s only vegan fashion show.
Blanlac is a line of luxury vegan footwear--the first for the grand duchy--with a mission to respect animals, nature and people throughout its production process.
The heels are first designed by the sister duo. All materials for the shoes are from organic cotton and wheat- or corn-based fibres, sourced from an Italian company which also does business with Stella McCartney, Lydia says.
The sisters then work with around 20 Italy-based artisans for production. Inspiration for the duo comes from a wide range of sources--what they read, their travels, and so on--and they enjoy proposing innovative concepts to the artisans who, in turn, let them know whether their ideas are feasible. Recently they heard about scarves being made from orange fibres. “We want to see if it is possible to make shoes using fibres from grapes, what’s left over after they have been pressed to make wine,” she said.
While Lydia prefers heels, she says her sister is pleased they have their first flat design. “Sophia’s more reasonable,” Lydia admits, adding that “We are different, but have synergy for ethical fashion.”
Extension of the vegan lifestyle
Lydia, who has lived in Luxembourg since 2007, is excited about the “creative energy” in Luxembourg, adding that she benefitted a lot from services through Nyuko and the House of Entrepreneurship when setting up.
Lydia says the vegan fashion world is growing, and wearing ethical fashion has merely been a natural extension of her vegan lifestyle.
“I never liked meat much anyway, but a dear friend opened my mind and eyes to veganism,” she said. After doing some reading on the topic, “I became more aware of the place of animals in society,” adding that it didn’t make sense to her why some animals were subjected to “horror” while others were domesticated.
She started a vegetarian diet, but six years ago became a full-fledged vegan. More recently, her sister has followed her lead and become vegan too. Lydia says that as she made veganism more of her lifestyle, she realised she was still attached to Italy, where she has roots and where some of her family is still located, and so Blanlac was born.
Blanlac reversible belts with detachable buckles Photo: Delano
Lydia says there are plenty of plans in the works. Most recently, the team has been continuing to innovate their unisex, reversible belts with detachable buckles. By the end of the year, Blanlac will also launch its first men’s line. There are a few surprises in store as well before year end, which will push Blanlac into new realms, but readers will have to be patient...