Silk is often the first fabric that people think of when it comes to luxury sleepwear. But behind silk is a production process that isn’t as shiny or soft as it looks, with thousands of silkworms often boiled or gassed alive to obtain their precious threads. There’s nothing comforting about cruelty, so Miami-based brand niLuu has set out to offer an ethical vegan alternative that drapes just like the real deal, but is better for animals and the planet.
niLuu landed last year to make ethical, planet-friendly luxury sleepwear a reality for silk-lovers. Based in Miami, the brand is all about providing the traditional elegance that people desire in silk loungewear, but using PETA-approved vegan and cruelty-free materials.
The idea for the brand came when founder and former interior designer Nilufer Bracco wanted to craft beautiful pieces that reflected the cultural textile tradition of her native country Turkey, while still staying true to the social, ethical and environmental values he had come to embrace.
“We can have the things we love and support a sustainable future for our planet at the same time,” she explains.
Silk is a wonderful fabric, but do we really need all this cruelty?Nilufer Bracco, Founder, niLuu
“It takes maybe 1,500 silkworm cocoons to produce enough silk for a single pillowcase. That means that 1,500 silkworms were boiled or gassed so they would not emerge from the cocoon, breaking it and rendering it much less valuable,” Bracco continues, in conversation with Green Queen Media.
“Silk is a wonderful fabric, but do we really need all this cruelty?”
From kimono robes to sleep masks and pillowcases, niLuu uses Cupro, a yarn dibre derived from the lint byproducts of cotton. This vegan silk is naturally hypoallergenic, thermoregulating, breathable, anti-static, provides moisture control and is easy to care for – and it’s completely biodegradable and animal-free.
“Our innovative vegan silk delivers the best of both worlds,” says Bracco. “Not only does our luxury fabric feel amazing when you use it, but you can also feel good knowing that it caused minimum harm to the planet when it was produced and that it will leave only the slightest trace when it reaches the end of its lifecycle.”
Innovating cruelty-free silk isn’t a new idea. Bracco says that previously, brands have opted for various viscose fibres that can deliver a somewhat silk-like feel, or have relied on petroleum-based alternatives that are “just bad for the environment”.
niLuu’s vegan silk is different – the fibres are made in Japan by Asahi Kasei in a closed loop facility, ensuring that no harmful toxins are being released into waterways and nature. Upcycling the lint from cotton seeds, the fabric is then assembled by Ipeker in Turkey to create a “perfect substitute to the most luxurious sand washed silk”.
Not only does our luxury fabric feel amazing when you use it, but you can also feel good knowing that it caused minimum harm to the planet.Nilufer Bracco, Founder, niLuu
The entire process is also completely vegan, and has been certified by PETA. “There are no animal proteins touching any of the materials all the way from sourcing the cotton seeds to the packaged product – most people do not know that industrial fabric softeners that are used in textile companies use egg yolk and bone marrow as ingredients,” Bracco told Green Queen Media.
“Thanks to these differences, we can create the benefits of traditional silk – the feel, colour vibrance, and richness of experience – without any of the drawbacks.”
One more drawback that niLuu is tackling with its vegan silk sleepwear is the social issues associated with traditional silk production.
“It is labour intensive and fundamentally depends on cheap labor to be viable,” Bracco explains, “Most countries that produced silk have stopped it altogether and there is a reason for that.”
By contrast, when people opt for niLuu’s cruelty-free collection, a portion of the proceeds actually goes back to create socioeconomic opportunities for women in Turkey, where its vegan silk supplier is based. The brand has further partnered with the nonprofit 1% For The Planet, to pledge at least one percentage of their annual revenues to environmental protection projects around the world.
I believe there is an opportunity for us in Asia.Nilufer Bracco, Founder, niLuu
So far, niLuu is only available in the U.S. market, but an international expansion isn’t off the cards.
“I believe there is an opportunity for us in Asia,” Bracco told us. “We will have to learn more about it to explore, probably in partnership with a multi-brand retailer that is aligned with our core mission.”
The startup is also continually looking to expand its vegan silk range to cover more fashion items and even luxury linen, but beyond that, they’re focused on “delivering the message of our brand.”
“The world is imperfect and I don’t judge people for buying silk – most people don’t know what it takes to produce it,” Bracco says. “With our vegan silk you can have wonderful ‘silk’ products without any harm to the planet and living things.”
All images courtesy of niLuu.