Steinway & Sons: 4 Sustainability Pillars to Piano Making

What makes an honest company experienced in the craftsmanship of a single musical instrument? In the world of sustainable luxury, for Steinway & Sons, 4 base factors are the key — tradition, green issues, transparency and durability. In this world crammed with disposable items in every aspect of life, Steinway & Sons, with more than 160 years expertise in piano making, reassures our confidence in quality, sustained craftsmanship and environmental consideration, and as if by accident, connects with the most talked about emerging trends in the current global luxury sector.

Steinway & Sons, 2016.

Steinway & Sons, 2016.

Transparency and environmental issues are no longer living in an extinct, faraway land only concerning the global fashion superpowers, but are widely prioritised on the consumer awareness agenda, whereas it is a no-brainer luxury brands get more exposure on revealing their behind-the-scenes. With #whomademyclothes increasingly trending on social media as a form of attracting sustainable fashion more visibility, even companies with tradition and history have been affected, due to popular demand, by a new wave of embracing transparency. Yet, what if there is nothing to hide? Steinway & Sons is a company that unintentionally stands in line with the global trend of stripping ‘bare’ in the luxury industry. We may still consider fashion as the most obvious example of an industry aspiring to turn a great degree greener, but also a great deal of craftsmanship and environmental consideration can be put into making a piano — a Steinway piano, made of wood from sustainable sources, can be played and enjoyed for decades, and — coming without an expiry date — even centuries. 

“In today’s marketplace, brands like ours must continue to innovate in order to remain relevant to the world around us, but that doesn't mean that quality and craftsmanship can suffer.”

Steinway & Sons, 2016. 

Steinway & Sons, 2016. 

Steinway belongs to the segment of sustainable luxury products, but understanding the real quality and durability often takes more than just a fancy exterior — it is easy to plaster a product with a luxury label, without making sure the product actually delivers towards the sustainability criteria. At Steinway, in addition to aesthetic appeal of the instrument, the role of actual craftsmanship, skills and the quality of raw materials is taken with utmost importance, where there is no compromise — it takes about a year to make one Steinway piano. In addition, the company boasts only two factories world-wide, based in New York and Hamburg. It takes only a glance under the lid to reveal the complexity of the artisan-built musical instruments measured with great care, assuring the customer that they are not simply paying for ‘luxury’ label, the name.

Steinway & Sons, 2016: Painting of the logo.  

Steinway & Sons, 2016: Painting of the logo. 

Similarly to the flourishing #whomademyclothes trend, the answer to questions like, ‘Who made my piano? How well treated the workers are? Where are they based? How much are they paid?’ , lies in highly-skilled craftspeople and artisans treated fairly and ethically. As a customer, in addition to the basics, like how, where, and by whom the product is made, we shouldn’t discard the most important question — whether the expertise is actually there. Like many other notable luxury corporations, Steinway has chosen to downplay the ostentatious label and opt for a greater degree of transparency — many of their staff have been at its workshops for decades and there are generations of the same family who have dedicated their lives to Steinway. At Steinway, interactive approach is also the key — customers frequently visit the workshops before moving on to the factory’s Selection Room, where they can try out a variety of pianos to find the one that feels right for them.

Steinway & Sons, 2016: Making of. 

Steinway & Sons, 2016: Making of. 

Steinway is also highly dedicated to the exclusivity aspect — any experienced pianist can tell that every Steinway piano sounds slightly different. Over the years, they have introduced a variety of limited editions — the Steinway Crown Jewel Collection is a range of visually striking pianos created from unusual, precious woods that challenges the perception of the ebony high polish concert grand, is typical of this trend. In 2015, in partnership with Wayne Stahnke, Steinway Spirio, the world's finest player piano system, available exclusively on select Steinway grand pianos, was introduced as a remarkable innovation, which is expected to last the full lifetime of the piano. 

Steinway Spirio launch, 2015. 

Steinway Spirio launch, 2015. 

According to the brand's spokesperson, “Since the founding of Steinway & Sons over 160 years ago, innovation and craftsmanship have served as the core tenets of the company. In today’s marketplace, brands like ours must continue to innovate in order to remain relevant to the world around us, but that doesn't mean that quality and craftsmanship can suffer.” Relying on these core principles of sustainability, craftsmanship, tradition and environmental responsibility,  and more than a century worth of expertise, no wonder Steinway is the choice of nine out of ten concert pianists as well as countless professionals and amateurs.

For years on end, Steinway proudly serves as a company that, first and foremost, has its core values in place. 

http://steinway.com

 

COS x Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim

To celebrate their support of Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, COS have created a limited-edition capsule collection.

COS x Agnes Martin Capsule Collection, 2016. 

COS x Agnes Martin Capsule Collection, 2016. 

The collection features 12 items for women and men, inspired by the minimalist and abstract expressionist artist’s work. Well, we can’t think of a better collaboration. Martin’s soft palette and refined details correspond perfectly with the COS brand, who are well known for their minimal aesthetic.

COS x Agnes Martin Capsule Collection, 2016.

COS x Agnes Martin Capsule Collection, 2016.

“Artwork is a representation of our devotion to life.”

- Agnes Martin

The collection is reminiscent of Martin’s light colour wash canvases as well as the loose fit workwear she wore when in the studio. Just like in her work, the new COS collection is soothing and meditative, with subtle design details and interesting prints. We love the waffle knit jumper (softer than soft) and the folded wrap over skirt. The latter of which we can image Martin wearing at dusk in her studio in New Mexico. 

Agnes Martin. 

Agnes Martin. 

COS x Agnes Martin – On display at the Guggenheim New York and available in selected London stores and online now.

Read more about Agnes Martin here >> 

Starch Slides — Shoes of Up-Cycled Men's Shirts for The Girl On the Go

NYC-based Starch Slides is a unique footwear brand that has mastered crafting the perfect slide-on shoe, whereas proudly pairing the sustainability element of up-cycling men’s shirts with vegan leather. At Starch Slides, individuality is the key — no other pair for ‘the girl on the go’ looks the same, ever. Savant talks shoes and sustainability with its founder Shannon Crowley.

Starch Slides 2016. 

Starch Slides 2016. 

Particularly considering the environmental impact, what informed the creation of Starch Slides?

As I come from a retail buying background, I wanted to bring a brand to life that was eco-friendly without looking entirely “granola”. I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea of up-cycling men’s shirts as shoes, and I sketched [my vision] and took it from there. 

What's your personal relationship with sustainability? How much does it reflect in your brand?

Starch Slides is very much my personal style — they are cool, effortless, comfortable and original. I have always been aware of green living, watching my waste and hoping others do the same. I think even doing little things make a huge difference over time, and not being sustainable is irresponsible at this point. Little things, like skipping the plastic produce bag when buying oranges, using a refillable water bottle, and washing and reusing plastic Tupperwares when ordering take-out can make a big difference. 

"I have thought I dislike many styles of shoes, then I see a woman rocking them and looking totally cool. This has taught me not to judge."

Your design philosophy is to create a unique, one-of-a-kind pair of shoes that no one else has. Describe the woman who starts her morning routine wearing Starch Slides…

The Starch Slides girl is a girl of any age — our audience ranges from 17 to 60. The prints of a men’s button-up shirt resonates with all ages, as the shirts are so classic. A big trend has been for mothers and daughters to each get a pair (different styles, of course), the style of slides is so simple that the shoe really changes personality based on the shirt we used to make it. They are for the girl on the go — simply slip them on and run out. Also, they come in a reusable backpack and take up little room in a suitcase, so they are a perfect travel shoe. I bring at least 4 pairs to every vacation I take. 

Starch Slides 2016.

Starch Slides 2016.

Could you elaborate on the concept of 'vegan' leather? 

Vegan leather is made of polyurethane — it is durable, playable and breathable. We use vegan leather because we want to have as small of a carbon footprint as we can possibly get. We bind the fabric from the shirt to vegan leather so your foot stays secure and the slide is very durable. Trust me, I am bashing through the streets of NYC and I have yet to wear through a pair, and I am not easy on shoes. 

"Little things, like skipping the plastic produce bag when buying oranges, using a refillable water bottle, and washing and reusing plastic Tupperwares when ordering take-out can make a big difference."

What's your opinion on the fashion and footwear industry exposing itself to a greater degree of transparency? Is there still a long way to go to acting completely green?

I think that consumers are doing a great job of asking questions, this is leading brands to expose the truth behind the process of their factories. I do think many brands are taking strides where they can to become green, which is a wonderful thing to see. We have a long way to go, but I think we will get there in time. 

What do you hate the most about the mass production of shoes? What makes creating a sustainable shoe difficult?

I hate the cheap prices of mass produced shoes. It’s hard to work so hard to make sure your shoes all have their own, unique personality, then walk in a store and see shoes on sale for less than lunch. People need to continue to remind themselves, “who is getting paid?”, when they see prices that are too cheap to believe. 

What's the type of shoe you hate to see or wear? What makes a shoe beautiful?

I have thought I dislike many styles of shoes, then I see a woman rocking them and looking totally cool. This has taught me not to judge. I definitely have my own style, it is rocker/boho. When I am not in slides I am in sneakers or motorcycle boots. I live in New York City and always need to be in outfits that transition from day to night, [that are] easy and understated. So Starch Slides are the perfect shoe choice for this girl on the go. 

http://www.starchslides.com