You’re lounging on a yacht on Lake Como, aperol spritz in hand, swathed in a glamorous silk dress fit for Sofia Loren. Does the label say Valentino, Gucci, or perhaps Prada? How about Bynes New York? The travel-loving brand has made its way to Italy this fall, and it’s challenging the status quo of luxury Italian fashion.
Italy has a rich history of producing the highest quality garment design anywhere, and they’ve earned their reputation for luxury across all categories: think Fendi, Ferrari, and Ferragamo. We consistently draw outfit inspiration from classic Italian film starlets, like Claudia Cardinale, Monica Vitti, and, of course, Sofia Loren. The Italian bombshell fully embraces feminine fashion, figure-emphasizing cuts, and sumptuous fabrics that feel just as good as they look.
The Problem with Traditional Luxury
Italian Silk Top
All too often, however, Italian luxury goods aren’t very good for the planet. Italians take their craftsmanship and design so seriously that they dismiss ethical and sustainable practices because they see them as a compromise on style. Waste is a huge problem in the textile industry, especially at the level of haute couture. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10.5 million tons of textiles wound up in landfills in 2015, the last year for which it collected data. With the rise of fast fashion, production levels have only increased. To maintain a sense of exclusivity, many designer brands take their end-of-season product straight to a landfill, rather than allowing it to be discounted.
Bynes New York does things differently. They travel internationally, seeking out high-quality collections that preserve a region’s cultural heritage while pushing the boundaries of ethical style. “We think the pieces you wear should be as unique and personal as you are,” says founder Ines Belakhdar. In their travels through Italy, Bynes New York went looking for a designer who combined the Italian tradition of luxury and quality with ethical and transparent practices. They found Maud Gerard, a Milanese designer who is redefining what luxury can be.
The Visionary Designer
Italian Pink Pants - Available at Bynes New York only
Maud Gerard uses dead stock silks or sustainably sourced natural fabrics for Bynes New York’s line of elegant and ethical Italian couture. Inspired by classic films and the rich history of Italian painting, Gerard creates vintage-looking blouses and gowns that add movie-star glamour to a modern outfit. Raised in Paris, Gerard moved to Milan for love. She began designing her own couture after realizing there was a lack of ethical, high-end brands in Italy.
Gerard works directly with small, family-run Italian workshops to realize her illustrations. She calls the work a collaborative process with highly skilled artisans: “It’s real craftsmanship, amazing talent. The older women can cut dress hems perfectly by eye.” She sources her most precious and luxurious material, world-renowned Lake Como silk, from leftover fabric waste from other designers. Most of the material comes from dead stock, but sometimes it is necessary for her to partner with Oeko-Tex certified Italian fabric manufacturers who produce pure, natural fibers as sustainably as possible, without toxic dyes or pesticides. Regardless, all materials are sourced and produced in a very small radius around Milan, which minimizes each garment’s carbon footprint and gives Gerard total control over the process.
Italian Navy Pants
Fabric is the starting point for every piece in the Bynes New York Italian Collection. The design process begins with fabric samples, which inspire Gerard’s fashion illustrations. She then works directly with her pattern-maker to develop a prototype and make any adjustments before the piece goes into production. From concept to execution, it takes about 4 months to make one of the collection’s silk blouses. “We try to do things as well as possible, so it takes time,” Gerard explains.
Rolls Of Fabric at the Milanese atelier
The Future of Luxury
Couturier at the Milan atelier
The support and enthusiasm for Gerard’s designs has made her hopeful for a future in which more high-end designers operate transparently and ethically. Each Bynes New York piece sold is a vote for more sustainable practices in the luxury market.
The collection’s elegant, intimately feminine design would not be out of place in the wardrobe of a sophisticated contessa, but is priced at a third or a fourth of the cost of synthetic pieces from big designer labels. Gerard has always been more focused on the process and the people involved than on maximizing her profit. She says:
Maud Gerard at the Lake Cuomo - Italy
“I wanted to create something that didn't compromise style to have ethics, and the other way around. There's this misconception that being ethical is difficult but, to me, it’s actually easier. If I buy dead stock fabrics that means I don’t even have to order my silks. Manufacturing in Italy is so much easier for me as well in the sense that I can take my car and drive to the atelier.”
Pink Italian Pants
The Italian Collection from Bynes New York brings you classic Italian elegance and craftsmanship without compromise. Each piece was lovingly and skillfully made using traditional techniques that don’t harm the environment, so you don’t have to sacrifice ethics for style. These luxurious silk creations will take your outfit from ordinary to red-carpet-ready before you can say, “Bongiorno!”