A contemporary London based brand which creates high quality luxury vegan handbags, So Long Marianne’s slogan is ‘fashion with compassion.’ With a focus on femininity, with their romantic lockets and delicate fabrics, the brand is passionate about creating beautiful designs all the while sourcing the most ethical and environmentally sustainable materials.
Please introduce yourselves. Tell us about why you decided to create So Long Marianne?
We live by two quotes. The first is “live and let live”. Being vegan we take this very literally. We feel all beings have a right to their place here and that no life is worth a meal or a piece of fashion.
The second is actually our slogan, “fashion with compassion”. We truly believe that fashion without cruelty can and should coexist. We have based our whole brand around those values.
Where does your design inspiration come from?
We feel that women are very special, we are proud to be different to the opposite sex and our new delicate romantic design, the first of The Camargue Collection celebrates this. We have been inspired by Europe’s most beautiful and romantic destinations. The elegance of Italy, the beauty of France, the story of a woman from Greece, and designed in the cosmopolitan city of London. The Camargue region of Provence in France is where the River Rhône meets the Mediterranean Sea. It is also an eponymous horse breed, one of the oldest in the world, and famously home to pink flamingos, being one of the only places around the Mediterranean where they nest. Our brand has the essence of historical femininity.
What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?
The most difficult part of running our own label has to be sourcing quality materials. We are a high-end brand and so cannot settle for mediocre vegan leathers and hardware. We must have the best. Not only do we want great quality we also want to make sustainable goods and to make sure we are getting them from a place where everyone is treated fairly.
Your brand focuses on sustainability, how did you both become so passionate about this incredibly important cause?
We have been a voice for the animals for many years and practice what we preach by both enjoying and thriving on a vegan diet and investing in vegan fashion. While some people start and stop with what is on their plate we also do not buy or wear any animal products. Where possible we are strictly cruelty free and this includes in the brands we buy and support.
We came up with the idea for a luxury vegan handbag brand many years ago when we realised all the lovely designer handbags were made from animal skin. We really felt strongly about wearing such cruelty but at the same time there didn’t seem to be anything that we loved that was ethical. Vegan handbags have historically been at the cheaper end of the market and we found we were often having to sacrifice both the quality of the materials and that of the workmanship to get something vegan.
We decided to create our own and we are so delighted with the results. We are here to showcase that you really can have great fashion with compassion. Beautiful designs do not need to be made from cruelty and with the vegan and ethical movement growing on every level we wanted to be part of that in the fashion industry.
What has been the highest and lowest point on your journey so far?
The highest point for us was actually seeing the brand come to life. When we got our first sample completed and absolutely loved it that was a real high for us. It’s taken years just to get to this point and seeing how beautiful the Camargue collection turned out made us very excited.
A low for us was Covid hitting the world this year, the year of our launch. Understandably many people have had other things on their mind other than fashion (including ourselves) but we went ahead with our launch regardless as we understand now more than ever just how important sustainable and vegan fashion is.
When there are setbacks how do you continue to stay motivated?
We stay motivated because we truly believe in our brand. Of course, there are always setbacks, if this was easy everyone would be doing it. We concentrate on solutions and know how valuable our message is. For us it’s more than just a brand, we are part of history, making the fashion world a better place.
Describe a typical day in your life?
We both have young children so a typical day for us both is juggling them around work. This has to be the most difficult thing for us at the moment. Once we have seen to the children, we both work from home. At the start of the week we discuss new ideas, speak to our manufacturer, organise Zoom meetings with each other or anyone else in the chain of our brand and that then gives us an actionable plan for the week ahead. We never know how many orders will come in each day or how many emails will need answering so we sort of tag team at this stage.
Where do you see your brand in five years?
We hope to see our brand grow into a brand everyone can recognise and trust. We would love to be in stores alongside other designer handbags where people can view our beautiful collections before purchasing. We have no limits we want to go as far as this will take us.
If you could give one piece of advice to our readers, what would it be?
The advice we would give is to truly keep at it for as long as you still have enjoyment. Of course, there will be hard times whatever you choose to do in life but keep going if what you’re doing is more than just about making money. Your passions should become your priorities if you really want to thrive in life.
How do you define success?
Pele, the famous Brazilian footballer once said
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
And we whole heartedly agree with him.
What is the part of your life experience you would alter if you had the chance to?
A lot of people like to say they have no regrets, but I think in reality everyone has things they would have liked to have done differently. For us we both wish we had started this brand sooner, we can’t wait to see where we will be in a few years and we just wish this experience had been in our lives longer.
Shop the collection here: SO LONG MARIANNE
And check the official instagram: @SOLONG.MARIANNE