Meet our Italian leather designer duo, Eleonora and Federica Scalia, who are united not just as identical twins but also by a common passion - to inspire the world to think differently about fashion. The brains (and beauties!) behind our latest rescued and reused leather products share how soulfulness, mindfulness and their love of minimalism are embedded into their practice.
Combined, you have 20 years’ design experience for the likes of Christian Dior, Valentino and Alexander McQueen. How have your career experiences changed your view of fashion - and the world?
Throughout our professional careers, we became increasingly shocked by the true toll of our trend-driven and consumerist culture. Meanwhile, personally we live very connected with our souls. We practice yoga and meditation every day, and thanks to our practice, we have greater awareness of our feelings and our essence.
Looking back, our bodies have always given us signals that our previous work wasn’t aligned with our purpose, which we initially didn't listen to, but which then became clearer, little by little over time.
We remember our usual meetings, briefings, and presentations of our accessories collections when we were in Paris. At a certain point within us, two questions echoed: "We create and we are two creative souls. But we are creating for what? And for whom?"
As a result of these deep questions, we felt like we were working in a place that didn't belong to us and never really belonged to us. From there, we understood that we no longer wanted to contribute to a market based only on consumerism, only to make capital grow without a purpose other than to destroy more and more human relationships and the planet. So we resigned.
You then went onto start ‘Think Different’. What is that?
We launched our ‘Think Different’ design project, which is our body of work that celebrates natural beauty and artistic expression to guide the fashion industry toward a more ethical and sustainable future.
‘Think Different’ is grounded on our belief that we have great power as human beings, and we live in a world that is currently very dystopian. Still, if we direct this power in the right direction of regeneration and recreation, we can change the world and together transform this utopia into reality. Together we can improve this world, using our creativity as a means to get there. This new awareness is our creative engine. Our creativity takes energy and light from our way of life, transmitting to others through our creations. Yes, we are the problem. Yes, we are the solution.
Behind the scenes working of our Tuscany Crossbody Bag
What inspired you to create The R Collective’s Tuscany Crossbody Bags?
Firstly, we were inspired to work with a purpose-driven brand like The R Collective. We combined our experiences from our previous careers, as we do have extended knowledge of the markets in the creation of new designs with marketing, functionality, and creativity. It's as if we have a trend forecast, predicting what will stay and what won't. Combining this strategy absorbed by capitalist brands with the purpose of The R Collective brand is a challenge and a novelty. For the first time, it was a creation with intent.
On our product inspiration, the design process took place spontaneously, with the rescue of the leather waste, which would have been discarded in landfills or incinerated, and we've understood and seen their rebirth of these materials through this design. We chose a versatile, unisex model that can adapt to any time of day. This multifunctional element was important. We created a basic design that is modern, fresh and youthful was also key.
Tell us about the artisanal supplier in Florence?
Together with The R Collective, we chose to collaborate with a family-owned, small supplier just outside Florence called M&M. They are a small team of wonderful artisans, who really supported this work of transforming leather waste back into beautiful, purpose-driven products. We have watched their artisans work and this hand - and we also think heart! - craft by these Italian artisans is really embedded into the seams and souls of these bags. Together, working with M&M and the whole team of The R Collective was stimulating and creative, with good vibes from everyone and a single passion behind it all; Making the world a better place!
Our designer twins on the factory floor with team M&M
How do you think our Tuscany Crossbody Bag support a more conscious closet?
Unfortunately, we have grown up in a throwaway society. A society that educates us from an early age to throw away as soon as that thing breaks and repurchase it new to the latest trend; otherwise, we will not feel accepted in society… even sometimes going into debt to buy that last trend.
Against this societal over-consumption backdrop, we think the design challenge is to create timeless and trendy accessory designs that last over time both stylistically and functionally. The challenge is to inspire a new mindset through these designs using rescued and reused leather, so as to no longer solely search for the object's perfection.
Still, behind the imperfection, there is a great purpose: giving a second life to what has now lost its life for us - namely the animals - to satisfy the vices of us humans. Knowing that your purchase supports an ethical project, one that is beneficial for the brand and all the inhabitants of this planet itself.
When did you two first begin to build on your sustainable fashion choices?
We started when we realized that superficial materialism and ‘trendy’ things didn't make us feel better. At 20 years of age, we fell into the labyrinth in which fashion holds you - owning possessions of the latest trend to be accepted in society. You seek happiness in material possessions, losing your identity. This identity becomes that logo known to all, redesigning your social status. Then at some point, it comes as enlightenment. It's an awareness that saves you. If before we lived as ‘blinded’ by all these schemes and stereotypes induced by a greedy and narcissistic society, now we live connected with our souls and nature. We spend a lot of our time studying anthropology, holistic art, spirituality, and being immersed in nature. It's as if, at some point, you show yourself nacked in society and reveal yourself for who you are. At first, it can be scary, but then you get many benefits, such as freedom.
Today, our wardrobes are minimalist. We only have what truly represents us or reminds us of a journey, an event, or a person dear to us. We live with purpose, surrounding ourselves with possessions that have a sense, letting the rest go. We haven't been shopping for years, and if we buy something, it's because we need it, supporting a small business with purpose and ethics in line with ours. Before we bring something new into our lives, we sell or donate what we no longer need. Making us feel healthy, as our creativity also benefits from our "Think Different" lifestyle.
Checkout our new Tuscany Crossbody Bag here!