High-end fashion designer Candy Maaka-Stoten has ditched leather in favour of making eco-friendly shoes and sunglasses, writes Sarah Webb.
If you were to open the wardrobe of Candy Maaka-Stoten, no doubt you’d stumble upon a plethora of eco-friendly heels she designs herself.
Not only does this reveal her passion for footwear, but also her commitment to doing the right thing by the environment, and preventing further harm to animals that dwell within.
Growing up on a small, self-sustained organic farm and living a clean lifestyle has contributed to the Sydney fashion designer’s empathy for the ecosystem. Falling in love with the animals and frolicking in the forest, it’s no wonder Candy would choose to rebrand and create a positive impact on what she loves most.
“When something so beautiful gets mistreated, you can’t sit back and do nothing, even when it’s just changing your own way of life and career – it all helps,” Candy said.
After battling with her heavy use of leather in December 2013, Candy made the conscious decision to rebrand her line KeilanaSkye, named after her daughter, in a move away from using materials that are harmful to the environment.
Now known as KSKYE, Candy now specializes in unisex, eco-vegan footwear and bamboo eyewear, to be launched in January next year.
Candy said it was in the middle of designing her new eyewear collection for KeilanaSkye in 2013 that the idea of rebranding to KSKYE came to mind. The rebrand in 2014 is designed using eco-materials, including bamboo, up-cycled wood, eco-dyes and eco-glues, with minimal use of metal.
“I’ve always wanted to do something that matters,” Candy said.
“Doing what I do now, I’m advocating for healthy people, a healthy planet and for better treatment of animals by using eco-friendly materials.”
Since launching in 2009, and rebranding this year, Candy’s designs have been modelled in many fashion and lifestyle magazines like MiNDFOOD and Shoed–In, blogs, and has had editorials written about her both nationally and internationally.
Not to mention, her heels were hand-picked to supply Australia’s Next Top Model in 2011.
With a new but growing celebrity following, KeilanaSkye and KSKYE have made their mark in the fashion world.
“I showed at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in 2012 and it was a great experience, and prepared me for Los Angeles and New York Fashion Week in 2013,” Candy said.
“Those were definitely the highlights behind KeilanaSkye.”
Candy’s family friend of thirteen years, Jeanine McVay Oldfield, said Candy is doing a great job with her rebrand of KeilanaSkye, and hopes that other fashion designers will follow suit.
“Candy is just a lovely, inspiring person. My hope is that she is successful with KSKYE and that other fashion designers follow Candy and have a conscious moment,” Jeanine said.
“If they just became more mindful that they can also make an eco-friendly change through fashion, it would be a great thing, because they set the tone for what is almost acceptable as we humans are so impressionable.”
Undoubtedly the leather industry is known to have the ‘luxury’ stamp. It’s quality, but not eco-friendly, however many tend to focus on that luxury tag, without thinking of the negative, environmental impacts.
“Leather is the easier option to design with and I can understand why other designers may not budge, but being challenged is what should motivate people, especially when it’s for the better,” Candy said.
“My heavy use of leather was something I was not proud of and now my designs reflect my ethics and way of life.”
Jeanine said it would not have felt natural to Candy to continue producing leather because she leads such a healthy and conscious lifestyle.
“She is still pushing herself further, because to re-brand is pretty massive, and then to produce something different that doesn’t exist yet, and is eco-friendly – it’s almost the ‘first’ idea,” Jeanine said.
As well as designing eco-friendly eyewear and establishing rebranded footwear, Candy strongly believes in bettering oneself through healthy eating and living, and is an organic and vegan consumer.
However, due to the lack of organic and specialty products online and in stores, Candy has recently kick-started her own online food store, Pure Eater.
Candy said having a plethora of organic and specialty products in one store online is what “makes” Pure Eater.
Jeanine said she couldn’t agree more.
“Candy is offering a service that’s really unique, like a one-stop shop,” Jeanine said.
“It offers a lot of ideas and products that we’ve never seen or heard about and it’s only a click away.
“We live in a society where we’re all really time poor, so time is of the essence and Candy provides a quick and easy service, which is a great idea – it’s fantastic,” she said.
Being a mother of six, Jeanine finds it difficult to source all her organic products from home and said Candy has researched her products, so she knows they’re truly organic.
“I think that’s half the battle – choosing organic products, but I trust Candy because she’s eating it as well,” Jeanine said.
“My family went gluten-free, then dairy-free and preservative-free – it’s all been a journey and you don’t realise how far you’ve come in helping sustain environment.”
Not only has Candy’s eco-values influenced the way Jeanine views healthy eating, but has also swayed her to be more conscious and aware of her consumer choices.
Jeanine said she wouldn’t buy another pair of leather shoes out of pure choice, because of Candy.
“I wouldn’t even buy a leather belt,” she said.
Candy spoke of how she’d also like to get more people on board with her mission to make eco-fashion and pure eating successful, for the future protection of animal life.
While sitting down, chatting over a cup of tea and blueberry smoothie, Candy spoke of her recent collaboration with 18 year old professional Perth surfer, Felicity Palmateer.
Considering how new KSKYE is, Candy said it was fantastic to grab the attention of Felicity, who has provided amazing support for her line all the way from Mexico.
“Felicity was lovely to meet. Her representatives contacted me regarding a collaboration and I was all for it,” Candy said.
Candy expressed that she’s also proud to have her line attract the likes of celebrities, men and women everywhere, and hopes to one day see everyone in KSKYE shoes and eyewear, or wearing more eco-fashion.
“I’d describe the KSYKE consumer as being fashion-forward and environmentally conscious,” Candy said.
“Right now, my design inspirations come from doing the right thing by the planet and making it look good.”
KSKYE eyewear can be found via Candy’s Kickstarter campaign.
Pledgers receive her eyewear at super early bird prices. Pledgers of more than $89 receive any pair of eyewear worth $149.95.
Image: Candy Maaka-Stoten