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Design Thinking: Modher

(Image courtesy of Modher)

In Graduate School, one of the buzzwords professors love to discuss is "Design Thinking." Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding (Dam and Siang). Design Thinking enables a company to understand consumer needs to serve their audience better. For this project, I contacted different companies to learn how the organizations apply Design Thinking into their market offerings. I had the opportunity to talk with Gianna Caravello, Founder and Creative Director , to learn more about the mission and vision of the Modher.

(Image courtesy of Modher. Image depicts founder Gianna Caravello )

1. How is Modher different from other fashion brands?

Our mission at MODHER is to keep our environmental impact as low as possible and to design handbags that are long-lasting — in both durability and style. Choosing the most thoughtful, Earth-friendly materials from which to craft our products is an enormous consideration in keeping us in-line with that mission.

The status quo for materials in the fashion accessories industry isn’t acceptable — for our brand and for the longevity and health of all of us who inhabit and rely upon this planet for survival.

We’re committed to using only high-quality leather exclusively tanned in Italy, where the leather industry is a worldwide leader in sustainability; plant-based fabrics and materials such as cotton; all while avoiding synthetics. For us, quality material is synonymous with ecological material. We believe that any modern business should also be sustainable and ethical. In selecting our leather and other materials, we take into consideration the entire lifecycle of the material, the impact of its production, and its end life. Our criteria are based on where and who produced the raw materials, and the level of biodegradability leveraged with its durability.

With the goal of keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible, we localize our supply chain and production sites. We are proud to work with small family-owned factories, supporting the local community where our products are made and respecting the environment.

We’ve always known that we could only feel good about producing our products if we had done our very best to source the most incredible, ethical, and sustainable materials available. The research and effort we’ve put into this process means that every part of our handbags is created and included with thought, intention, and an amazing story. We hope our customers open their product packages and are instantly enthralled by every detail — and by their part in supporting conscientious fashion.

(Image courtesy of Modher)

2. How does Modher stay ahead of upcoming fashion trends?

I grew up in Italy, surrounded by timeless beauty. Everything from the buildings to the textiles was built to last for generations. Italian items were old, and in their age, they carried stories and history that made them truly special and unique. That taught me that if you do things in the right way, using the right materials, using the right maintenance, an item could last forever and maintain its beauty.

That reverence for timeless beauty stood in stark contrast to the rapid transition to mindless consumerism I saw throughout the world. Products were being created cheaply with low-quality materials, workers were suffering under harsh conditions with low pay, and consumers were purchasing these products at a low cost with little understanding of the environmental and social ramifications. The world of fashion, which I loved growing up, was becoming a clear culprit behind the rampant consumerism I loathed.

When I founded MODHER, I did it with a passion for the beauty and timelessness of Italian design, and an insistence upon a better, more ethical way to create fashion pieces. Now, as a Certified B Corporation, one of my proudest accomplishments, MODHER crafts and sells handbags that are consciously designed with the environment in mind.

(Image courtesy of Modher)

3. How does Modher incorporate its mission and vision into its product offerings?

Beside the materials and the craftsmanship, we focus on the relationships with our manufacturer and material suppliers. I was directly involved with selecting the material and the supplier. I went to Italy, and I walked through tanneries and asked about each part of the process. I wanted to look into the tannery and see the faces of the workers that treated the leather. I was happy to establish a direct relationship with these partners and to discuss MODHER’s mission to build a sustainable handbag. I shared with them how important it is for me to avoid the use of plastic in our process, and I talked about the value of craftsmanship—that I believe in their job, their work, and their skills. We want our products made by people who are happy to make them. I’m proud to have a strong relationship with the suppliers.

(Image courtesy of Modher)

4. What is the future of the company?

This world doesn’t need another traditional fashion brand. There are a lot of handbags out there. There’s no need for another one that makes the same things in the same way. We need some alternatives that can help us take a step back in our consumer behavior and ask ourselves if we need these items, why we need them, how they’re made, and who made them. We need new generations of fashion brands and a new mindset for the consumer product in general—from electronics to fashion and everything else. I want MODHER to be a part of that transition from mindless to mindful consumerism.

(Image courtesy of Modher)


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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