Text Matteo Mammoli
Leather dyed with rhubarb and plastic bottles cut up to make sequins. Dresses made from sacking, bought from the Navigli, and graphite used as a surrogate for chemical decolouring agents. These are just some of the solutions put forward by the young designers competing in the second edition of e CNMI Green Carpet Talent Competition, the event that is part of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards promoted by the Italian Chamber of Fashion. thee purpose: to de ne the value of sustainability in fashion, with focus on the Italian production chain. On 23 September, at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan Fashion Week will draw to a close with the selection, from the ve nalists, of the winner of the Franca Sozzani GCC Award for Best Emerging Designer. e fourteen judges will include actor Hu Bing, the editor of Vogue UK Edward Enninful, and singer-song- writer Ellie Goulding. All ve nalists will receive a support program from e Bicester Village Shopping by Value Retail and help in building marketing strategies, brand identi- ty and distribution. e winner will showcase his or her collection during the fashion week in February.
For Carlo Capasa, president of the Italian Chamber of Fashion, “the challenge is to transform ‘good-looking well-made’ Made in Italy clothing into ‘good-looking, well-made, and sustainable’.’” It all started ve years ago, when “we published the Manifesto for sustainability in Italian fashion. Focus is on eco-toxicological requisites for clothing, leather goods, footwear and accessories, for the chemical mixtures and industrial discharges. Documents that will be needed for organizing the companies of the future.” Sustainable fashion is possible. “Sustainability is the central issue today, with all companies gearing up on all levels, including systems and in-house competences.”
Davide Grillo is one of the five finalist designers. Born in 1994 in La Spezia, he studied at the Istituto di Artigianato della Moda in Parma. “I learnt the most during my early working years. I was at Pinko. We worked hard and played hard, with lots of unique creative freedom. When you learn on your own, you have no choice, you either learn or you learn.” Davide conceived a naturally dyed, laser-cut dress covered with silk feathers. e hand embroidery details by maestro Pino Grasso, hand-painted designs using onion skins, wood and walnut shells by ReSequins. For Davide, designers are crushed by the impossible deadlines of enormous collections released at breakneck speed only to be forgotten just ten minutes later. “Excessive production subtracts time from the creativity and attention dedicated to collections, leading to a surplus of garments, impoverishing ideas that then become repetitive.” It is crucial for us to recuperate tradition, “some manufacturing techniques are being lost, there is a generation of tailors, dress- makers and embroiders that is part of the history of Made in Italy, but we need generational handover.” Davide says he has a so spot for Gigli and admires creations by the Fontana sisters. He remembers “the exhibition for the forty-fifth anniversary of Valentino’s fashion at the Ara Pacis. I was enchanted by this pleated white dress, with tiny sequins forming rufes that cascaded onto the skirt. I was fourteen years old and it was the first time I had seen a couture garment.”
Shivam Punjya is Indian and the creative director of Behno. He founded the brand with the aim of championing the issues of poverty and global health. A wide variety of experiences, from his time at the InterContinental Hotels—a conglomerate of luxury hotels in London, to working at GreatNonprofits.org—a no-profit organization based in Silicon Valley. He studied economics and social sciences and has a B.A. in International Political Economy from U.C. Berkeley and a degree in Global Health from Duke University. “An interdisciplinary vision. We work with our production partners, listening to their needs in order to understand how to improve social integration.” Behno’s creations include a dress that is first deconstructed then reconstructed with disused garments, combined with GOTS certified organic silk and Econyl regenerated nylon, a yarn made by recycling shing nets and discarded rugs. “Today’s consumers are more individualistic than ever, they are prudent spenders,” says Shivam, grateful for his family’s support. “There are seven of us. My two mothers and my two fathers. My brother and my sister. Long story short: my mother’s younger sister married my father’s younger brother and we spend all our time together.”
Gilberto Calzolari is from Milan. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Brera and then worked for various fashion houses. “At Marni, I came into contact with Japanese volumes and cuts, softened by an English-romantic naïve vein. At Alberta Ferretti, I studied chi on dresses. At Valentino, I fell in love with feminine glamour. At Miu Miu, with the conceptual style of Miuccia Prada. At Giorgio Armani, with the wearability and taste for elegance Made in Italy.” Gilberto’s dress is made from jute coffee sacks originally from Brazil and bought on a Navigli market stall. e lining is in a fabric from the archives and the crystals are lead-free Swarovski Elements. Vivienne Westwood, the queen of punk and green economy activist, is his inspiration.
Westwood is also the muse for Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones, who in 2011 set up Teatum Jones. “Vivienne is proof of how fashion can teach you to look outside your own market and can remain as a message.” Collections by Teatum Jones are sold globally in luxury stores the world over—Liberty, Harvey Nichols, Saks 5th Avenue, Boon The Shop and David Jones. Catherine and Rob have created a dress in recycled polyester and Lenzing modal, a fabric made from wood. Lined in recycled polyester, it is adorned with laser-cut sequins made from recycled plastic water bottles.
“Our Instagram pages and WRÅD arose out of a need to communicate proactively in the face of the recession. ‘People care when they know’,” say the three cofounders of Wrad: Matteo Ward, CEO, former Senior Manager of the A&F Diversity and Inclusion Council at Abercrombie and Fitch; Victor Santiago, Art Director, fashion photographer and casting director and Silvia Giovanardi, creative director with a degree in Fashion Design from the IED, and former Senior Designer at Etro. They have come up with a dress in mint fabric, produced using fifty percent organic cotton from bamboo viscose and fifty percent GOTS certified organic cotton, made in Pistoia. One sustainable detail is it is dyed using recycled graphite, a surrogate of chemical colorants. The street is their dimension, “it is a manifestation of this moment in time and the ongoing crisis in political and social values. We are pursuing the truth in a post truth society. Not an easy task. We need change and big change starts on the street. What is worrying however is the inability of the market to perceive the quality of clothes chosen as its manifesto.” Instagram was a fundamental move, enabling WRAD to “attract the attention of big players, the most important being Alisea Recycled and Reused Objects Design, a company in Vicenza that enabled us to create gpwdr technology, a special treatment that recuperates the waste graphite powder from the tech industry that allows us to give our fabrics a hint of grey that is unique the world over—WRÅD GREY, there- by reducing our water consumption during dyeing by ninety percent. e ancient Romans used this method, and we learnt it from the inhabitants of Monterosso Calabro who have been handing it down for two thousand years. Inspired from our past, recycled for our present, repurposed for our future.”