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Yu Stepanel Collection

 YU STEPANEL is a London-based jewellery brand committed to the slow fashion movement, with a particular attention to human connection and respect for timeless, authentic pieces.

Words By Sophie Badaoui


Yu Stepanel

From painting
to jewellery

YU STEPANEL is a London based jewellery brand, founded by Yulia Stepanel. While she creates her designs embracing a deep sense of spirituality and meaning, she didn’t always feel this way towards jewellery.
It used to be a hobby as she was a painter trying to express herself through her art.
She soon realized that her painting did not awaken the intrinsic connection she expected to feel with her environment, acknowledging painting as “something too distant from real people”, based on her own experience.
Shortly after, she fully dedicated herself to designing jewellery as she felt it would be “more personal and relevant […] a more accessible form of expression, as art, and something you could always have with you if particularly loved”. 

From there she started discovering and mastering different techniques, immersing herself entirely into the process, and thoroughly enjoying it through her meticulousness, attention to detail and nuances, and handcrafting skills. She found her inspiration through her fascination for Ancient Rome, which explains her lions designs and her S.P.Q.R collection, and her deep appreciation for tango. Indeed, she considers it “a lifestyle and a philosophy”, which has undeniably influenced the YU STEPANEL style and aesthetics: “my jewellery marries the goodness of gold, beautiful pearls and free flowing, organically imperfect silver surfaces.” Even her choice of materials is impregnated by “the juxtapositions, the contrasts that make the dance what it is […], elegance and mugre, which means dirt, go hand in hand”, she shares. It is thus no surprise that she defines the common thread of her designs as “imperfection”, feeling closer to human bodies and minds.

Regarding her particularity as a designer, she tries to do most of the actual making herself. By personalizing her work in every step of the production, she authentically connects with her customers. She applies the artisan method, which means “each piece is individual, slightly different from another”, the waste metal is recycled and the usage of chemicals and energy is limited. As it turns out, she had already explored less traditional designs for which the materials did not agree with her skin. For this very reason, she only uses noble materials or recycled metals in her work to protect her skin as well as the environment.

Other extremely important aspects of the brand are wearability and tactility. Yulia Stepanel’s goal is to make customers feel as if her jewellery is part of their body, like an ear or a finger. She expresses, “I use flowing lines that allow the jewellery pieces almost melt and mould into your body, become part of you – as they are there to stand for who you are; like your eyebrows or your bones which you ‘wear’ without noticing, but they are there to define your posture, your face, and essentially your being.” It is also a form of connection between the designer and her customers as to feel the human hand that is behind the creation of every piece. Moreover, the biggest challenges she encountered at the beginning were actually standing out from other designers by cultivating her authentic style and sticking to it, and finding reliable suppliers who shared the same “ethos of sustainability” as her. As a main life advice, she reflects, “try not to compare yourself to others”, and insists that we should never fall into trends if it means losing ourselves and our integrity.

The Sustainability

Yulia Stepanel’s definition of sustainability is “respect and taking responsibility, being mindful in your everyday choices as well as more attentive daily practices”.
Indeed, she cares for her clothes and does not fall into overconsumption: she prefers buying more expensive but timeless, sustainable pieces.
Although she admits that there has been a recent improvement in the fashion industry such as smaller seasonal collection drops against overproduction, she knows that the reason for it was purely economical considering the covid 19 situation.

The Quality

Unlike these large corporations that have no real sense of mindfulness and responsibility towards the environment, she hopes her brand can serve as an inspiration and influence of conscious behavior for consumers.
In fact, she targets her ideal customers as “those who take pleasure in nuances, small details, warm pleasant materials that come from nature, and that wear on your skin well […] those who like doing things properly, and so expect this level of quality in things they buy, things they wear, too”.

Slow, Quality
and Wearable

When asked to sum up her brand’s spirit in 3 words, she replies “Slow, Quality, Wearable (as in pleasant to wear)”. The designer also sees the future of her brand as “becoming an integral part of the solution to the current fashion issues, by teaching the consumer to celebrate a slower pace of living & wearing”. She also wishes to collaborate more with people aligned with her values, and to have cross discipline partnerships. As a matter of fact, she recalls a project with Visceral Creative, a short film centering around dyslexia, in which her jewellery was worn by the actress, to accentuate “the raw and imperfect aesthetics” in harmony with the movie theme.

The New Normal

Finally, she is optimistic about sustainability becoming the new normal in the fashion industry, considering her brand among the small sustainable businesses that are slowly having more impact on the consumers and therefore on bigger companies. She even admits that many reputable labels are now adopting a slower production method and are becoming more conscious. Regarding YU STEPANEL, it incorporates mindful practices such as reducing production waste and using recycled and repurposed materials (currently using recycled sterling silver or Ecosilver, and recycled gold). In terms of shipping and packaging, the “Ю premium cardboard packaging is fully recyclable” and “postage packaging is minimised to bare essential components”, she informs. Through these responsible habits, the brand sends a clear message to its customers: “buy less but better”, and support the slow fashion movement!

Shop YU STEPANEL items

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