This Finland-Based Brand Is Contributing To Sustainable Fashion By Dismissing The Trend Of Faux Fur

Onar, which means ‘dream’ in ancient Greek, is a Helsinki-based sustainable shearling and leather brand. Irene Kostas, the founder and designer takes heritage techniques perfected in her family for generations and adds her quirky style - creating innovative and strikingly modern products. 

All the pieces are handcrafted in Finland and Greece exclusively from by-products of European meat industry (highly regulated meet market) with all materials being ethically-sourced, vegetable-tanned and 100% chrome-free. The brand believes that sustainability is a key to making ethical products and dismisses the trend for faux-fur. Recent reports show that on average one gallon of oil is used in the production of every 3 faux-fur jackets and sadly too much of cheaper end faux-fur still includes dog and other animal hair.

 In the collections soft materials meet geometric forms, richness of texture meets minimalism, organic materials meets plastic look and the stark Scandinavian lines meet the mystical.


Check out Onar's SS18#MelaninASS collection  as well as some thoughts by founder Irene Kostas:


How is your brand sustainable and ethical? 

I use only ethically sourced shearling, all being byproduct of food industry. The nappa leathers are vegetable tanned, tanning is chrome free and all pieces are handcrafted by local artisans in Finland and in Greece. 


Is there a growing sustainable market in Finland? If so, how?

ONAR Is based in Finland, however as being a relatively small country and nation, our main markets are abroad - Japan, Korea etc. 

There is however a very big demand and consciousness for sustainable doers in Finland, Scandinavia and Europe in general. Finland is one of the most progressive countries when it comes to developing sustainable processes and in the investments in circular economy. It is among the countries with the cleanest nature, thus it is something people are born with - appreciation for nature and resources. 


Why was it important to use woman of colour in this campaign? What does diversity mean to you?

Having grown up in a multicultural family (Greek father, Finnish mother) diversity is the most natural state of being - rooted nomadism is part of ONAR’s dna. I was designing the SS18 collection while in Harlem, thus it felt natural to have a local model in the campaign. 



How do you see the future of sustainable fashion? 

I believe companies and brands are becoming more aware than ever about the importance of developing and questioning processes and the ways of doing - I hope there will be more standards to  measure and assess each brand’s level of sustainability, in order to maintain a clear and honest communication with brands and consumers. 



More About the SS18 Collection:

Embracing both roots and nomadism, SS18 “Movement" Collection is somewhat the epitome of ONAR. The birthplace of the Spring Summer 18 collection is Sugarhill, Harlem. Harlem is a proof that art, freedom and creativity change society more rapidly than the authorities - thus it has an infinite amount of stories to tell. These stories have a strong voice - so strong that they were heard through soundscapes in the early 90s in the small periphelar villages of Finland and Greece by the designer Irene Kostas. The voices gave Irene a story to tell, later in life to be told in the form of ONAR. ONAR Spring-Summer 18 is a ready-to-wear collection with signature combination of natural heritage materials such as nappa leather with organic jerseys and woven Japanese technical fabrics. The bombers are splashed with abstract form of colour - the nappa leather bikers are detailed with piping in serious pink and rusty orange. Concrete grey, deep green and burgundy are a juxtaposition to the cultivated shades of olive, navy, rusty orange and serious pink. Being developed in Japan, Finland and Greece, every piece is handcrafted and named after the moods cherished between 125th Street and 145th Street in Harlem, New York. The Elliot shirt embraces African tradition in a geometrical abstract form. Every piece is made to embrace MOVEMENT -  political, cultural or physical.


Photography: Joshua Aronson

Model: Aliyah Monet

Hair/ MUA: Aya Kudo