There are many brands producing cashmere, some higher end and luxurious like Loro Piana, others mass produced but lovely never-the-less, like Uniqlo but ever so often a new company appears that arouses my curiosity…..
Bonandzai was created last year, as a collaboration between an Argentinian Nancy Cravero and a Venezuelan Isabel Morillo.
Nancy, a pretty young woman with a shy smile, who looks more European than Argentinian, instantly made me feel like I have known her for a while, like her cashmere brand-good start, I would say!
Nancy and I were supposed to meet at Ottolenghi in Notting Hill on a quite Sunday morning but it was hectically busy, so we ended up at Tom’s which is almost like an American diner-a cosy place, where the staff is sweet and visitors quite eclectic and loud, hence making your conversations more intimate as you have to lean in, in order to actually hear what another person is saying.
Nancy, who has smiley, dancing eyes and looks a little like a ballerina, tells me that Isabel has a law background and worked in the oil industry while she has a design background, having studied and worked in Madrid and later in London, thus the both of them making an interesting creative combination.
Every year girls produce a small, edited collection which they present during London fashion week to shops and buyers-each very distinct and luxurious but building something from scratch is always difficult, especially when cashmere manufacturers didn’t want to start small, preferring large orders.
As a premise Nancy and Isabel have the notion that ‘cashmere has to last’ but it has to be simple-girls have the same style and always discuss the way a collection will come together, even though it’s Nancy who actually designs and draws, while Isabel deals more with the business side of things.
Who is their target I asked Nancy? She became slightly pensive and then said that it varies-they produce pieces for both men and women-and anyone can wear their pieces: from someone in their 20s to people in their 50s who in our day and age look dashing too and want to remain current and stylish, not drab, hence they can wear Bonandzai too.
Nancy and Isabel started with what I call ‘conservative colours’, like black, and brown but they also use very vivid ones like purple or distinct blue that is incredibly striking on a man or woman in real life. Girls pay particular attention to small detail, making it possible to wear one piece in several ways as Nancy says ‘we like a little surprise when it comes to clothes’. And it is true, one of their jumpers can be worn as a cute weekend sweater but roll up the sleeves and the bottom of the sweater and you have a slightly quirkier look that makes a difference and extends the possibilities of wearing one sweater.
The factory that the girls use is in Mongolia and they buy their cashmere from Hong Kong (they have tested relentlessly before they chose their current supplier). Generally speaking, wool can feel itchy on the skin but 100% cashmere is much softer and fluider and in the future Bonandzai might contemplate a silk and cashmere combination, and possibly a slightly younger diffusion line, experimenting with yarns and shapes.
When it comes to inspiration Nancy tells me that it can come from anywhere-walking in the street or watching TV and then puff, something catches your eye and the creativity kicks in.
Bonandzai next collection will have seven colours, including fuschia and teal with subtle greys, blacks and browns to balance things out and even though it has birds, feathers and freedom as an inspiration behind it, the important thing with Bonandzai is that it’s meant to last in your wardrobe and not just pass fleetingly only to be forgotten next year, hence ‘sticking to things that people will be comfortable wearing but with a twist, making it long lasting’ as Nancy puts it to me.
At the moment Isabel is based in Geneva and Nancy in London while the photo shoots for their brand take place in Paris, so as far as I am concerned theirs is a unique multinational brand that will definitely inject luxurious spice or calm stylishness into your wardrobe.