cuyana founders shilpa shah and karla gallardo

Fewer, better things. Excellent life-wisdom? Absolutely. It’s also the motto of San Fransisco-based fashion brand, Cuyana, whose throughfully crafted clothing and leather goods are the kind of elegant essentials we couldn’t tire of if we tried.

As longtime lovers of Cuyana and their mission to make responsibly manufactured style timeless, accessible and chic, we asked founders, Shilpa Shah and Karla Gallardo, to participate in our new series which spotlights pros who love the art of personal style as much as they love a good spool of eco-friendly Italian wool…

Currently Wearing...

SHILPA SHAH: Black tailored trousers by Stella McCartney, a black cashmere turtleneck by Cuyana and a personalized denim jacket by Levi’s embroidered with “Shilps”.

KARLA GALLARDO: Cuyana’s pleat-back poplin shirt, classic jeans and gold-studded ankle-strap flats.

My Style in 3 Words:

SS: Timeless, clean, sophisticated.

KG: Feminine, sophisticated, fun.

Best Tip For Shopping Sustainably:

SS: Cuyana essentials mixed with iconic vintage pieces and great consignment or thrift finds. One-of-a-kind pieces really give timeless designs an individual edge when paired together.

KG: Look for pieces that also feature an in-depth look at their production chains. Companies who are doing it right shouldn’t have anything to hide.

Recent Inspirations:

SS: I have the pleasure of being surrounded by incredible women in both my personal and professional life. My dear friend Audrey Gelman and everything that she is doing with The Wing is hugely inspirational, and making an impact.

KG: I recently took a trip to Portugal with my family and felt endlessly inspired by the beauty of the architecture and the rich culture. Sometimes your surroundings can inspire unexpected ideas upon return to San Francisco.

My Style Icons:

SS: My mother has always had this really effortless way of wearing and pairing the pieces in her closet. Her looks were always curated and polished, but never overdone. I’ve adopted this way of approaching style since I was young, and always look to her point of view as a guide.

KG: I love Phoebe Philo’s perspective on design and styling. I’ve looked to her since day one.

My Signature Look:

SS: Tailored black pants, an asymmetric knit, and black leather sneakers. My go-to uniform is often black with a pop of color in my accessories or outerwear.

KG: A black trouser and a beautifully cut blouse. I like to introduce a little playfulness into my looks with tops that play with silhouette and material.

Fave Eco-Friendly Materials:

SS: The recycled wool in our wool outerwear is sourced and crafted in Italy. The material is eco, but the quality and finished product are luxury.

KG: Toquilla straw from my home of Ecuador. It is used to craft the most beautiful handmade summer hats and bags.

My Mission In One Sentence:

SS: I am on a mission to change the way the fashion industry consumes, and empower women in doing so.

KG: To change the way that people approach fashion through thoughtful production and lasting, high-quality design.

Something In My Closet I'll Own Forever:

SS: My ‘Classic Leather Tote’ in caramel with an ‘S’ monogram. It’s the first Cuyana piece I owned. It has aged beautifully, and it is still a style staple for the modern woman.

KG: The Cuyana Travel Case Set. We’ve worked with the same producers on this piece since the beginning, and the beautiful craftsmanship is still just as artisanal and high quality.

Style Trend I'm Most Excited About:

SS: We are loving the mini bag trend at Cuyana! We have created a few mini bags recently that are really fresh, including the bag we made in collaboration with Creatures of the Wind for New York Fashion Week.

KG: Unexpected ties. This holiday season, we play with this concept on bags, dresses and knitwear. It’s playful, yet timeless.

Trend I'm Excited To See Go:

SS: I’m not an early adopter, but I always had a hard time understanding the backwards trend with classic tailored shirts. It was always a bit too impractical and complicated for me.

KG: I never quite embraced the crop-top trend.

Most essential accessory (and how to rock it)...

SS: The backpack. I carry mine in black with a striped silk scarf tied to the handle for a really feminine look and feel.

KG: Shoes with a subtle edge like studding or ties. Wear them to ground timeless pieces in neutral tones.

Look that will never go out of style...

SS: Crisp tailoring — pants, blazers, shirts. You can always make them feel fresh with cool, modern styling

KG: A classic trench coat over tailoring for day, and denim on the weekends is forever.

Fave stainable brands, designers or resources:

SS: I’ve always been loyal to Honest Beauty products. I also love Herbivore — their travel products are perfect for my in-flight life. In fashion, I’m really enjoying watching the sustainable approach evolve on the runways. So many designers are adopting this as their own philosophy.

KG: As simple as it sounds, one way to live sustainably is to shop at your local farmer’s market. It’s one of my favorite things to do on the weekends at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Many times we underestimate the impact of buying local.

My current Mantra...

SS: Authenticity, always.

KG: Work hard and be nice to people.

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