Meet Mari | The Creative Force Behind the Recycled Sugarfree Swimwear

On the occasion of launching the Swimwear Collection 2020 by Sugarfree at Cemeli. We would like to introduce to the Cemeli community the creative visionary behind the stunning, effortlessly chic designs, Ms. Mari Kalogeropoulou.

1. Please tell Cemeli followers a bit more about yourself and how your designs and the brand came about?

I always knew I wanted to become a fashion designer, when my sisters were playing with dolls, I was cutting up fabrics and creating clothing for them.  After matriculating from St. Catherine's Convent, I completed a 2 year course at The GFD Academy of Design, specializing in pattern drafting and Haute Couture. Following that I moved to Milan, Italy where I completed a 3 year fashion design course at the Istituto Marangoni. After the completion of my studies I decided I’d like to live in Athens, Greece, it was the place which most inspired me.

 In 2005, we decided to create a retail store concept, the brand SUGARFREE, Our vision was to create a swimwear / beachwear collection that could be showcased in a designer retail environment, combining exceptional design and quality at very affordable prices.

15 years later SUGARFREE is a playful, conscientious and fashionable brand, featuring  not only swimwear/beachwear but also luxury athleisure and activewear.

2. What was the inspiration and vision behind your designs?

The Greek lifestyle, has always inspired me, the feeling of freedom and agelessness , that you can be any woman you want to be without conforming to boxes regarding age, looks, etc. this also has to do with our Unique and plentiful Islands, do you want to be the woman that parties on a Mykonos beach or that watches the sunset on Patmos, or swimming in the aquamarine waters of the Aspronisia of the Dodecanese. My team and I are passionate about designing for the woman that can morph and adapt to any circumstance, with confidence and beauty. challenge of design and the fun of designing Sugarfree.

3. Sustainability and responsible sourcing are a strong priority, nowadays, what steps do you think that the world of fashion need to take to become more sustainable?

At SUGARFREE, we have been taking steps towards a more responsible, and sustainable future, for several years. Our solid swimwear line is in it’s 3rd year, using only recycled fabrics, from discarded fishnets and plastic bottles. This year our complete line of swimwear, is constructed with recycled lining.

In our SS 2020 beachwear collection we have introduced new styles from recycled fibers. As a responsible company, we have for many years, recycled all our fabric cut offs, and continue to do so. We have also implemented a strategy to recreate and design new styles with all our stock excess. 

We are members of the The Higg Index, and have lowered our carbon emissions by changing all our production facilities to lead lighting.

The HIGG INDEX was Developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, it is a suite of tools that enables brands, retailers, and facilities of all sizes — at every stage in their sustainability journey — to accurately measure and score a company or product’s sustainability performance. The Higg Index delivers a holistic overview that empowers businesses to make meaningful improvements that protect the well-being of factory workers, local communities, and the environment.

We are audited and certified every year by Sedex, it is one of the world’s leading ethical trade service providers, working to improve working conditions in global supply chains. they provide practical tools, services and a community network to help companies improve their responsible and sustainable business practices, and source responsibly.

We are also GRS certified, that all recycled yarns used in our collections are 100% verified. I believe that all companies need, to be more responsible in the number of styles they produce, that quality should become a higher motive than volume. That the consumer needs to be `re-educated in spending the same, but for less volume.

4. What has been the most surprising thing that you have learnt about running your own department?

Running the SUGARFREE design department, has taught me that every season is a new start. There are no, standards or norms, each season there are shifts in consumer behaviour and you need to be adept to the spending shifts, by keeping yourself continuously informed, on social and geo physical trends.

5. If you could describe your brand in five words – what would they be?

  • Sustainable
  • Affordable
  • Luxury
  • Playful
  • Iconic
6. How would you describe your ideal customer?

They are fashion forward  but they retain a playful attitude towards clothes interpreting trends in their own personal way. They want to feel comfortable all day long –they prefer casual clothing but with a feminine and glamorous twist. They are active. This is either because they love working out at the gym or because they have a lot of everyday activities. They look for value-for-money products. Quality is important, but price is important as well. They share their best moments with their friends on social media! Because as we say, #SugargirlsDoItBetter

7. How do you feel about being featured at the online Cemeli boutique?

I am honoured, to have the SUGARFREE collection, featured at the online Cemeli boutique and blessed to be surrounded by so many passionate and fun people