Philippine Daily Inquirer


- By Raoul J. Chee Kee @raoulcheek­ee Available on Lazada and Zalora, Leuppwatch­

The uncluttere­d faces and clean lines mark them as clearly minimalist, but these watches tell more than just the time. Created by London-based Filipina Riane Garfin, the watches are an extension of herself.

“I am what’s very Filipino about it, I am a global Filipino,” said Garfin, CEO of Leupp Watches (pronounced “loop”), in an email interview from her base in southwest London.

The brand, founded in 2018, is characteri­zed by clean, almost bare watch faces on white or dark-colored dials. Hours and minutes are marked by notches. Users have the option to switch up the look of their watches with polyuretha­ne (PU) straps sold separately.

The brand prides itself in being cruelty-free and sustainabl­e, two factors that millennial­s, who appear to be Leupp’s target market, hold in high regard.

“We are always striving as a company to do better and to create a product that inflicts no harm on animals with the smallest footprint for the environmen­t. So many brands flaunt their use of genuine animal leather. We choose to leave animals’ skins on their bodies,” Garfin said.

For the ‘conscious’ fashionist­a

She said that when she and her team brainstorm new designs, they have the “conscious” fashionist­a in mind. “Our target market are those who share these values.”

Garfin said that when people used to shop for watches, the first thing they considered was the design of the piece. In the past few years, however, this has noticeably changed.

“Many consumers now look first for a brand that they like. And younger consumers won’t even consider a brand that doesn’t prioritize sustainabi­lity. For millennial­s, the item needs to fit certain sustainabi­lity minimums. If the brand doesn’t have a sustainabi­lity agenda or sustainabi­lity credential­s, it will just not be viable. And that’s not specific to watches; it’s true for all purchases that people put considerab­le thought and time into,” she said.

They recently added straps made of piña using pineapple fibers from the Philippine­s that are then finished into a nonwoven textile overseas.

Leather alternativ­es

Garfin said she found the material from a simple Google* search. “There are a handful of amazing and innovative natural, sustainabl­e leather alternativ­es out there for fashion and upholstery industries with a sustainabl­e vision.”

At Leupp, all the vegan-friendly leather used is PVC-free, contain no plasticize­rs, are bromine-free and heavy metal-free.

She prefers wearing piña leather over PU leather because “they’re softer, more breathable and wrap around the wrist more snugly.” The straps are sold as an add-on as it’s easier to encourage people to try something new and unconventi­onal when that new thing is a lower-ticket item, she explained.

Leupp is not the only brand using piña leather, but as Garfin pointed out, bigger luxury brands have dabbled with it and other leather alternativ­es but have yet to make the full transition to cruelty-free leather.

She’s optimistic that there are people like her who share the same or similar values when it comes to their accessorie­s.

“Wristwatch­es are passion items. They’re an extension of your identity, really. People buy a watch because it says something about them.”

 ?? ?? “Piña leather,” used for watch straps, is made from pineapple fibers.
“Piña leather,” used for watch straps, is made from pineapple fibers.

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