Tough Luxe: A Vilda Editorial With Dauntless NYC


This editorial is kindly sponsored by Dauntless NYC

One of the holy grails of vegan fashion remains the non-leather jacket. Whereas the high street offers ample options at low prices, there’s always the probability that your new purchase will crack, rip or otherwise show its true colours – plus the chance that is was made in less than acceptable conditions, with not much respect for the environment or the people who produced it.

So you can imagine how thrilled we were when we came across Dauntless NYC, a US-based brand that specialises in making beautifully cut vegan leather jackets made from eco-friendly materials. Uniting style and sustainability in a collection of high-quality designs, founder Paula Maldonado has truly tapped into a gap in the market: “Dauntless is different from any other cruelty-free brand because of the way I positioned it in the market”, Paula explains “I don’t just target vegans or cruelty-free buyers. I position Dauntless for anyone who wants something beautiful, a well-fitted fashion piece. We need to focus on making a change in those who still are unaware of how cruel the fashion industry is. Most of my buyers are non-vegan and appreciate my mission.”

That doesn’t mean that Paula doesn’t appreciate the growing vegan fanbase the brand has build up. “However, I equally support like-minded individuals or companies that focus their demographic only on vegans,” she clarifies. “We need to work together and make the highest impact as possible. I truly care about the welfare of our planet, not just animals but also how sustainable we can be. Without sustainability there is no eco-system. Dauntless is also different because we are not seasonable, making us eco-friendly. ‘Leather’ jackets are an easy purchase, so I focused on that.”

Paula is right: a “leather” jacket is a timeless purchase. From a breezy autumn day to the first hints of spring, the right jacket will accompany you throughout multiple occasions and is free from the constraint of “seasons”, making it a lasting investment.

When it comes to sourcing materials and auditing working conditions, Dauntless won’t compromise: “We focus on our manufacturing to be 100% fair wage, great working conditions and completely free from child labour. I visit the manufacturer almost every day and make sure everyone is happy. I believe that if the employees are happy, if they love what they do, it shows on the product I’m selling. Everything is handmade, hand-sewn.” 

But what exactly sets Dauntless’ materials apart from other vegan leather jackets? For starters, they are free from PVC, the most environmentally harmful faux leather component.  “The jackets are made from synthetic materials, polyester, cottons, nylons, polyurethane. The linings are satin – each jacket is printed with our own designs. The ink is eco-friendly are water-based, making it more sustainable.”

Dauntless also care a great deal about the details. “The materials come from Japan, USA and Italy. Our zippers are RiRi the most high-end in the zipper industry. The jackets are produced in Bogota, Colombia where I am from. As mentioned in my previous email I only work with manufacturer that have fair wages, perfect working conditions, no long working hours and absolutely NO child labor. The manufacturers that I work with are small helping communities maintain jobs like sewing.”

For this custom editorial shoot, I teamed up with photographer Chasity Nao and model-slash-activist Daryna Milgevska, the dream team behind our London editorial with Raw Apparel. Plus this time, Daryna’s adorable pooch Suzi did some modelling as well! The location was once again London, this time Battersea Park, which provided more than one scenic backdrop. A dreamy hint of nature coupled with a rougher city feel provided the perfect setting for Dauntless’ Moto 1, a black biker style with quilted detailing; and Metallic Moto, a subtle design that exudes quality.

 A green and leafy park in the heart of central London, Battersea Park features a number of Buddha statues that helped offset a crucial part of the Dauntless collection: the jacket linings. Each faux-silk lining is printed with a custom design created by an artist especially for Dauntless. So not only are you supporting sustainable fashion and small, eco-friendly vegan businesses by shopping this collection, but you also support an independent artist. The jackets we shot had spectacular linings: the Metallic Moto was lined with a gorgeous Asian-inspired print, while the Moto 1 had a camouflage-pattern lining.

 What’s next for the brand? Paula sees exciting things ahead: “I’m looking into faux-suede jackets, beautifully fitted long coats and short jackets”, reveals Paula (and we can’t wait). She adds: “I’m also creating a backpack and a handbag. We will start making a small batch to see the response of old and new clients. Very excited to expand our line!”

 A biker jacket is a must-have in your wardrobe for several reasons: aside from the aforementioned seasonless appeal, the perfect biker jacket is also one of the most versatile garments in existence – it can be worn over pretty much anything, as demonstrated in this shoot. Dauntless’ edgy yet polished pieces add an air of tough luxe to anything from a floaty, nude-hued maxi skirt to a simple pair of black jeans and white top. The biker jacket is an evergreen classic that will never date, never go out of style and almost never look out of place. And if you’re going to invest, this is the brand to invest in.

Ever the savvy ethical entrepreneur, Paula has interesting insight on how to make vegan fashion more interesting to a mainstream audience, which of course is key in order to spread the message. Her approach is to target those who hadn’t previously considered vegan fashion and reel them in through the power of style:  “We need to make our cruelty-free fashion more fashionable,” she argues. “That’s the only way we can make a change.”  This is a strategy that has proved successful for a variety of vegan and sustainable brands: putting style first attracts a range of trend-led customers who might not consider ethics until they come across a really fashion-forward brand incorporating values into their philosophy. With their style-conscious focus leading the way, Dauntless is right on track and we see great things in the brand’s future.

All photos by Chasity Nao
Model: Daryna Milgevska
Top by Bazaar De Luxe
All shoes by Beyond Skin
Jeans and skirt: model’s own
Canine model: Suzi

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Sascha Camilli

Founder and Editor

A passionate changemaker, Sascha Camilli is the founder and editor-in-chief of Vilda Magazine. Born in Moscow and raised in Stockholm, she has also lived in Los Angeles, London, Milan and Florence, before landing in her current hometown of Brighton, UK. She was selected as one of GLAMOUR UK's Most Empowering Nu-Gen Activists and is a frequent public speaker on the topic of vegan fashion and material innovation. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books.

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