Aside from my grandmother’s wedding band, which I never take off, I generally don't wear much jewelry. When New York City temperatures skyrocket in the summer, I really don't wear much jewelry. There's nothing worse than a hot necklace weighing down your neck with sweat, amirite?
So when a friend invited me to her summerhouse in Southampton, I had my bag packed in five minutes. Not on my packing list: jewelry of any sort. Fast forward to poolside cocktails (I'll finish soon, I promise) and I noticed my friend rocking a stack of bright, bold, graphic bangles. Razimus, she informed me, is a line of handmade jewelry created from vintage fabrics and patterns. Fabric = weightless, Julie = intrigued. I contacted Razimus’ owner and designer, Virginia Fretto, to learn more.
Julie Bensman: Where did the idea for Razimus Jewelry come from?
Virginia Fretto: I was tired of ending up halfway through the day with a pile of heavy metal jewelry on my desk! Although it completed my look, it’s often uncomfortable to wear all day. With a degree in fashion design, a true passion for textiles and a few years in the fine jewelry industry, designing statement fabric jewelry is a natural culmination of my experiences. I named the company Razimus Jewelry after a creatively made-up word that my PopPop devised to reward his kids and grandkids when something was well-deserved.
JB: Where do you source the materials that eventually make up a Razimus piece?
VF: I seek out small businesses and artisan vendors to create a supportive, sustainable supply community. Razimus Jewelry designs are handcrafted using bold/bright vintage or organic fabrics, which make them not only comfortable, but also eco-designed and sustainable. Salvaging and upcycling a vintage, but sadly damaged, 70s dress into a colorful new bracelet is exactly the kind of inspiration that motivates me.
JB: How do you see sustainable fashion becoming more and more important in today's marketplace?
VF: There are so many great resources available to the consumer now that everything is so easily accessible at our fingertips. Similar to the movement toward clean eating and knowing where your food comes from, I think the fashion industry is also seeing those same pulls in a sustainable (i.e. fair wage, renewable resources, eco-friendliness) direction.
JB: Who is the Razimus customer?
VF: She appreciates the value of handmade products and challenges the norm. She likes to stack armfuls of bracelets, listens to music loud and is confidently unapologetic in her style and opinions. I think everyone has a little of that inside them.
JB: If you could style one celebrity in Razimus, who would it be?
VF: Musicians are my biggest icons. I’d probably lose it if Gwen Stefani wore an armful of Razimus. Her style and energy is so innovative; she juggles motherhood and fashion so well, and is a true creative inspiration.
JB: What advice would you give aspiring jewelry designers?
VF: It’s a lot of hard work and long days, but being a good priority 'juggler' and lots of self-discipline gets the job done. Let the world around you inspire you — you’ll never run out of ideas.
JB: What's next for Razimus?
VF: I'm calling 2014 the year of collaborations. I partnered with a sustainable fashion brand, Pashen Collection, to create sets that include a silk scarf with matching Razimus bracelets and neck-to-wristwear designs (which can be worn as a wrap bracelet or necklace). The designs are created from 100% natural silk hand-printed by artisans in Cambodia. That's coming next month!