From her home in Maryland, Nadia founded Tandra Lunellery in 2020 with the help of family and friends in Indonesia she trusts in the fashion industry. Her clothing brand focuses on the small-scale production of clothes from selective, dead materials.
Nadia Tandra had a vision of working in the fashion industry.
Growing up in Indonesia, with her mother who designed clothes and her grandmother who ran a clothing factory, Nadia couldn’t wait to become a designer.
“I imagined this fashion world to be a magical place,” said Nadia. “But when I was growing up I realized that it wasn’t true.”
She was disappointed with fast fashion, a term used to refer to companies that overproduce clothing to suit fast-moving trends.
The number of items of clothing produced annually exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014. according to a study by McKinsey.
And the clothes consumers buy don’t stay in their closets. The US Environmental Protection Agency reported that landfills 11.3 million tons of textiles received in 2018.
“I was hoping to change that, give people a better option to shop online, do my best to be sustainable and ethical across my company and brand,” said Nadia.
The young designer said she was disaffected by the headlines of textile workers who work long hours and are underpaid. With the work of her grandmother, who set a good example, Nadia has created a brand with a small production team “that’s incredibly passionate about her work.”
From her home in Maryland, Nadia founded Lunellery in 2020 with the help of family and friends in Indonesia she trusts in the fashion industry. Her clothing brand focuses on the small-scale production of clothes from selective, dead materials.
Introduction of a brand
Lunellery dresses are not what consumers usually think of when it comes to sustainable fashion.
With fairy tales in mind, Nadia created the brand in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic to “escape into a magical world,” she said.
“I’ve always loved pinks and pastels, and I think there is a need in the market for affordable, sustainable princess dresses,” said Nadia.
Nadia designed the dresses with the idea that consumers would dress up for multiple occasions, including picnics – which have become popular during the pandemic.
“We focus on low waste, produce small quantities and test the success of each style and see what goes down with the customers,” said Nadia.
Photos: Maryland designer creates princess-style dresses with a focus on sustainability
She makes about ten to 15 pieces per style.
“I think we just want to make sure we don’t have excess waste because we just don’t want to pay tribute to pollution and landfill clogging,” said Nadia.
Janice Wallace is a DC sustainability expert that helps consumers build a more sustainable wardrobe. She said mass production and overproduction of clothing were two of the biggest factors behind the lack of sustainability in the fashion industry.
She cited companies like H&M as an example.
“What do you do with that excess? Often things get burned,” said Wallace.
The EPA reported that 3.2 million tons of textiles were burned in 2018.
Nadia hopes her brand can inspire consumers to think more about how their clothes are made.
Choosing the right fabric
The same fabric is used for different clothing designs at Lunellery. Nadia buys dead stock fabrics – textiles that a store has left over or is already available.
“I focus on fabrics that can be recycled,” said Nadia.
When Lunellery was first introduced, all dresses were made from 100% cotton and 100% polyester. Designers say that pure fabrics are easier to recycle and make into new garments than fabrics with mixed components – for example 60% cotton and 40% polyester.
“They’ll just go straight to the landfill,” said Nadia. “They don’t know what to do with these mixed components”,
Wallace says it is sometimes difficult for smaller brands to jump on board with sustainable fabrics. She said the problem is prices.
“When the bigger brands start using organic cotton and replace regular cotton, the price of organic cotton will eventually go down, making it easier for smaller brands to use organic cotton,” said Wallace.
As a small business owner on a budget, Nadia said it helped keep her inventory small to focus on quality and create timeless pieces that can be worn for a long time.
“We don’t want to be stuck with trends,” she said.