by Rebecca Butler, FASHIONmeGREEN

GUNAS is a progressive luxury brand of bags for men and women. Led by designer and founder, Sugandh Agrawal, the label creates cosmopolitan and eco-conscious collections born in NYC.

Luckily for us, GUNUS is committed to providing ethical luxury at affordable prices. Plus, the brand is looking to expand their range of products in 2012 (think luxury vegan fur and new shapes!). Eager to learn more about the brand and its development, I got in touch with Sugandah to discuss her approach to sustainable design.

How is GUNAS committed to sustainability?

We are conscious about our material selection and are committed to being 100% animal friendly. The materials we use meet European manufacturing environmental standards, we also use recycled materials. Our bags are functional, vegan and stylish without compromising quality.

Has the company’s commitment to sustainable sourcing influenced the direction of the collections?

Finding sustainable materials that are also stylish and functional for making handbags is a huge task. Our look is most often driven by the materials we chose to work with for a particular style. We are not comparable to other conventional brands that produce products by the 1000′s. We work with smaller more responsible factories so we produce less, in turn promoting the ideology of “consuming” less as well.

What inspires your aesthetic?

The bags are inspired by various things, be it travel, nature, historical figures, or sci-fi movies. Ultimately they have to be worn with clothing, so we find most of our inspiration in classical apparel styles found globally.

Who do you design for?

We hope to see our bags on people that appreciate good design, see value in consuming responsibly, care for the environment and themselves, while making a style statement at the same time.

Does the company have trouble sourcing certified fabrics?

Yes, absolutely. There are extremely few vendors that supply certified fabrics especially those that can be used in constructing handbags. These materials tend to also be at least double if not three times the price of non-certified eco materials. Sometimes it is cheaper to produce leather than it is to produce good quality faux materials, but cheaper does not necessarily always mean better.

How do you define sustainable fashion?

Sustainability needs to be a part of everything that we put out there in front of consumers. As designers/manufacturers we should find responsibility in providing that option and, in turn, consumers should make the effort to educate themselves about the consequences of using products that harm our environment. We cannot remain ignorant about such issues and continue the cycle of exploitation.

And something about you, outside of GUNAS, that we should know?

I am an avid adventure sports fan, love the outdoors, and thrive on being surrounded by nature.