What if I said you can wear fur without hurting animals, your conscience or your bank account? Faux real! (was that funny? I hope so!) Coming to you from Kickstarter, world of discovering new things before everyone else and getting them earlier too, Vriie is your new affordable faux fur accessories line with vests, spats and snoods that are not to die for (since no animal died) but to live for! And celebrate! And yes, probably buy. I personally love that the pieces incorporate into any wardrobe with ease. You can throw the vest over your winter sweaters, add the snood as your winter staple in place of a thin scarf and hook the spats over nearly any shoe you already own. Faux fur gives your outfit some pop, dimension and as is important in the winter- warmth.
Made ethically and sustainably right here in NYC, I asked the designer duo behind Vriie Cynthia Bercun & Paula Tomisaki some questions so you can get to know them, their style and their line a little bit better.
What’s your background look like? What is your history in the fashion industry?
Paula is a professor of architecture at Columbia University, and I’m a lawyer with a degree in fashion marketing from Parsons School of Design.
We are sisters-in-law and the founder partners of Vriie LLC.
Besides our shared Buenos Aires city origin, family ties, and love for New York City, we both have in common a strong passion for sustainable avant-garde design, art, and a specific concept in fashion.
Vriie's conception started a few years ago due to our desire to fill a gap that existed on our own closets. We loved fur qualities, but we do not accept animal cruelty to make clothing, and we were not able to find high quality faux fur fashion pieces that suited our style... so we started to shop for fabrics in the fashion district, designed and sewed at night after work, trying new shapes, fitting each other's pieces. It was fun and rewarding - we created fur fashion we could be proud of.
At that time, Paula was an architectural designer at Bernard Tschumi Architects and was already teaching Design Studio at Columbia University; and Cynthia was working at Bottega Veneta in the 5th Avenue corporate offices. We would wear at work and at social events the pieces we’d shaped the night before; and after getting positive feedback and interest in our new pieces from colleagues and friends, we realized our fashion designs and beliefs had the potential to reach beyond our own closets.
During the last year we've been working to create the unique pieces of our first collection, but this is just the beginning! We are developing more distinctive items that we are planning to produce for our second collection, including but not limited to fur mittens, fur handbags accessories, and our super fun kids’ collection.
Are you vegan? When and how did you make the transition to veganism?
Yes, we are. We’ve made the transition to veganism a couple of years ago, it wasn’t easy- taking into account that we were raised in a country where eating meat is part of a regular habit- but luckily, we nailed it ☺. We cannot conceive to fuel and nurture our bodies with food that comes from the killing and suffering of animals. We actually feel so much better physically, mentally, and spiritually since we adopted this philosophy of life. Paula went vegan first, and a couple of months later I decided to follow her.
Describe your ideal Vriie girl.
She is cool, independent, determined, classy, sophisticated and down to earth, eco friendly, values design and quality over disposable fashion, a risk-taker, loves statement-making pieces and she is definitely a conscious buyer.
What’s your favorite way to wear all of the Vriie pieces?
Our pieces are eye-catching and striking, so we would personally wear them with classic outfits, neutral colors, and neat-line designs. However, we see our pieces as versatile items, so we like to think that everyone can style them their own unique way…that’s the fun of it!
What is your favorite Vriie piece?
Wow…so difficult to answer this one…we are in love with every piece we’ve created. Each of them has its own character and plays a different role in a woman’s outfit.
The fur spats make any ordinary boot stand out in a posh, unique, and creative manner. It's a one size-fits-all, easy to wear, super soft and really fun to have item, as you can wear it almost over any type of boot, even loafers and oxford shoes as long as they have at least half an inch height. They were inspired by horse riders' half chaps, typically seen in Argentine polo matches.
The snood is a cute and warm piece to wear in cold weathers. Classy and cool…elevates any coat or jacket you wear it over. As the lining is super soft, your neck, chin and skin fall in love with this item!
And last, but not least, the fur vest, an item that can be worn as second, third or even fourth layer, which versatility and comfort make it a must in every women's wardrobe. Either you put it on top of a dress or tank top on a cold night of spring, or a button-up shirt or t-shirt -to make them look cool and edgy- or even over a biker, military or jean jacket…the front part of this vest is unique, the direction of the hair gives the item the perfect volume so as to fit perfectly on any kind of body shape.
Was it difficult finding a factory and production process?
Yes, it was. However, we’ve done an exhaustive research and managed to find the manufacturer we wanted. She handcrafts every piece with exceptional quality.
Faux fur has hit a new level of success and notoriety with several high end designers and new brands making it available to the masses. What does faux fur’s future look like to you?
We believe faux fur is actually THE future when it comes to fur in the fashion industry. Soon, there won’t be a place for real fur … people are becoming more aware of what the utilization of fur implies, have changed their habits, and make savvier decisions while shopping for food, clothing, etc...
What we see today, is that high quality faux fur designs are extremely expensive, and the alternative is to get teddy bear quality things. We saw that as a niche and set a price point so as to get premium quality faux fur at a reasonable value.
Best shopping advice?
Look for comfort, functionality, quality, and always choose pieces that make you feel good in every aspect.
Favorite NYC restaurant?
Candle79! We go for brunch sometimes. It’s super cool. We love their eco cocktails, specially the Rose Sangria!
I totally agree with 110% percent of everything they said and luckily the rewards for donating to their campaign are great. Choose from a tee-shirt, short spats, tall spats, kid spats (yes really!), snood, vest or a bundle. Let's be honest- you were going to buy some cute winter accessories at some point right? Why not contribute to the future of cruelty-free fashion while helping launch a brand in the process? I'm going bananas over their versatility, affordability and sheer fierceness.
With a fundraising deadline of October 11th, rid yourself of indecisiveness and just pick a piece already!