Ranjana Khan doesn’t scream sustainability. If anything, she offers it in the form of an air kiss, like acknowledging an old friend from across the room of a cocktail party. The New York-based designer and model uses primarily upcycled and natural materials for her statement-making jewelry line. Her designs boast bold colors and rich textures, undeniably influenced by her Indian heritage. Her highly-coveted pieces are red carpet regulars that have caught the eye of cultural icons like Beyonce and Michelle Obama.
Sourcing vintage materials from all over the world, Khan follows her intuition and taste that comes straight from the heart. Drawn to natural touches including feathers, silk and pearls, the scarcity of these bits often result in limited-run styles. These designs seem to go as quickly as they came in, mimicking the natural rhythms of changing seasons or tide cycles. “I’ve collected shells from the Bahamas and I gold plated them. And when they broke, it was over. They’re natural.” As for being considered a sustainable designer? “I didn’t even know I was!”
Her stance on sustainability is more nonchalant rather than a selling point of her designs. Instead, it's ingrained in her lifestyle and fashion consumption habits. “I don’t buy junk.” Case in point: her expansive Elsa Peretti-designed Tiffany belt collection. When she needs to outsource something special, she calls on one of her best-kept style secrets: “New York Vintage, oh my God, I love. It’s a global institution and an extended closet for me. They do mostly rentals.” Aside from circularity, Khan also is a big fan of breathing new life into pieces she loves with the help of a tailor. Describing a silk dress she reworked with a split down the back, “I love doing that. I changed the whole look of it!”.
Looking through her wardrobe over the past few years, she realized that she “couldn’t possibly wear all of this”. So in June of 2022, Khan and her two close friends, also industry veterans, hosted a combined closet sale of her personal wardrobe. Over the span of three days, fashion insiders lined up for archival designer wares the tastemakers have collected over decades. The trio calls each other the “Style Sisters” and were most thrilled about letting their coveted pieces live another life. “If you’re going to buy something: wear it, pass it on, sell it - let it see the sun!” They aim to have another sale again this year.
Call her sustainable or not, Khan remains unfazed about labels. “I have been this way forever, it’s in my gut. It’s just there.”