Interview: Cala Jade on Quality, Sustainability and SS19 Inspiration

We had a sneak peek at Cala Jade’s brand new Purple Daze SS19 Collection last month, and we’ve come back for more. Founded in 2007 by Elise Kleiva Ugland and Tina Cecilie Skaar, Cala Jade is a leather goods brand that reflects the Nordic approach to sustainability and timeless, durable design.

With the use of the finest fabrics and the now very popular use of salmon leather, they design products that will last you a lifetime, and emphasise female beauty and everyday elegance. We chatted to Elise and Tina about their priorities in building a fashion business, how it’s evolving, and what inspires them. 

 

Cala Jade SS19

 

How and when did it all begin? Tell us a bit about how you became a creative duo.

Cala Jade sprung from a mutual interest and passion for leather and quality materials. We met on the metro on our way to our first day at a design school, and have been good friends since – working together comes naturally to us. We have the same point of view on life and share the same aesthetics, even though we have our own twists on things. We have build up the brand piece by piece, together.

Why bags and leather accessories? Did you have any background in making leather goods?

A shared love and passion for craftmanship and quality, naturally led to an ambition to work with leather goods. Leather as a material holds so many of the qualities, which makes a design process fascinating – it’s natural, durable, sustainable and at the same time, it will always be unique.

Our background is in womenswear, but bags are a natural part of this. Most of our customers choose their bags with a great deal of thought, and this inspires us to make something truly special, which they can love and care for years to come. 

What does the manufacturing process look like? 

We strive to work with the best, so everything from our materials to the factories is expected to align with certain values, such as quality. Our factories and suppliers are located in Europe and they all produce different elements of our bags, depending on their skills and supplies. We, along with Mona Førisdahl, are both involved in design, as well as the direction of the brand. We follow and work closely with our producers and visit the sites multiple times a year. We have found our own rhythm that works perfectly for us!

 

Cala Jade SS19 

You mention fine quality materials a lot. Why do they matter so much, especially quality leather, and where do you source them?

When you’re designing a product, you want to give it a life of its’ own and put thought and care into every part of it, and this obviously concerns the choice of materials. We would never put anything out there that wasn’t one hundred percent.

In the end, materials play a big part in durability, and at this point in time, seeing how the world is in terms of sustainability and consumerism, it wouldn’t make sense to keep creating something that doesn’t last. Good quality leather has a special trait with its’ patina getting more beautiful with wear and tear. We source our leather, textiles and metal parts in Italy, Portugal and Spain, and we love our suppliers!

What inspires the seasonal collections, and which one of those inspirations did you use to create Purple Daze?

A constant source of inspiration for Cala Jade has always been architecture and shape. Bringing us back to the theme of sustainability, we don’t work with a seasonal story that focuses on here and now, our work is more organic and moves steadily. We also find a lot of inspiration from our materials, as well as nature. It feels unnatural for us to base a collection on a trend, so we would rather focus on coming up with different styles each season and hopefully that inspires our customers to invest in something long-lasting.

In a way, our core inspiration applies every season, but as both us and the brand evolve, we draw from new aspects of it all the time.

 

Cala Jade SS19

 

The Miniature collection is very different to your usual offering, as it targets children. Why did you decide to include it?

The Miniature collection also sprung from an idea of sustainability. We had left-over materials from our shearling collection that we wanted to use. So, we thought of the idea to make mittens, baby boots and trapper hats for the little ones. The cut-offs from the mother’s mittens, for example, could now become a pair of mittens for her child. As we are mothers ourselves, we know how much love and care parents put into every little aspect of their childrens’ lives, including their wardrobe. To make something cruelty-free with the best possible quality felt natural for us, and we are so happy it has been so well received.

What are the biggest challenges for brands like Cala Jade? And how have those challenges transformed since you founded the company?

The biggest challenge for every brand right now is to find a way to keep producing. Because of this, we feel that we are even more obligated to be transparent with our customers. In addition to buying the product, our customers also buy into our story and point of view, so we need to make sure that we are representing something they can feel proud of.

A lot has happened since we founded the brand, in terms of social media and how the internet is shaping the fashion industry in various ways. It’s helping us reach out to people all over the world and find new ways to communicate with our customers and inspire them.

Our mission, however, stays the same: We want to create something special with the best possible quality that our customers can really care for. Hopefully this mission will stay ‘on trend’ and make sense for years to come.

  

Cala Jade SS19

 

Speaking of ‘the years to come’, what are the future plans for Cala Jade? 

We want to keep evolving like we always have, steady and focused. We have a lot of ideas and plans, and we will work hard to make them happen. A new collaboration would be fun to do again! Any tips on who would be good for us? 😛 


Want to learn about other sustainability-focused Nordic fashion brands? Read all about Studio EBN >>>