Fashion Crimes: Dirty Cotton

Earthsight Ong Linking European Giants to Illegal Activities in Brazil

According to the British NGO Earthsight, the cotton used by textile giants H&M and Zara to produce their clothes is dirty cotton.

Specifically, the NGO alleges that the two European brands are complicit in large-scale illegal deforestation activities in Brazil, including land grabbing, human rights abuses, corruption, and violent land conflicts. But this revelation is particularly alarming as it implicates Better Cotton, a certified sustainable cotton label. If you heard us say certifications worth zero, here’s the proof.

Fashion Crimes: The report on dirty cotton

Using satellite imagery, court decisions, product shipping records, and undercover investigations, Earthsight has compiled a report titled ‘Fashion Crimes.’ The result is a damning portrait: cotton certified as ethical by the world’s largest certification system, Better Cotton, is found to be contaminated by numerous environmental offences. Also, this cotton is exported to various Asian manufacturers, producing approximately 250 million clothing items and household articles annually for H&M, Zara, and their sister brands’ global stores.

Fashion Crimes: dirty cotton - Report cover
Fashion Crimes: Dirty Cotton – read the full report here

The NGO has tracked the journey of 816,000 tons of cotton from two of Brazil’s largest agroindustrial companies, Horita Group and Slc Agrícola, in Western Bahia. Traditional communities lived in harmony with nature. But they were robbed of their lands and attacked by greedy agricultural companies serving global cotton markets. The Brazilian families who own these lands have a lengthy history of legal proceedings, convictions for corruption, and multimillion-dollar fines for illegal deforestation.

Some of these illicit activities take place in the Cerrado region, a savanna renowned for its rich fauna and flora, constituting the second most important biome in Brazil. The Cerrado, which hosts 5% of the world’s species, saw a 43% increase in vegetation destruction in 2023. The clearing of Cerrado trees for agriculture generates carbon equivalent to the emissions of 50 million cars each year.

Environmental protection is a key issue for the European Union, which has included the new European Deforestation Regulation (Eudr) in the Green Deal. A program against climate change that encourages the consumption of certified raw materials and imposes restrictions on the importation of those produced in deforested regions.

“Earthsight’s year-long investigation reveals that corporations and consumers in Europe and North America are driving this destruction in a new way. Not by what they eat – but what they wear.”

Better Cotton: certifications & greenwashing

In conclusion, the NGO points the finger at Better Cotton, the world’s largest ‘ethical’ cotton certification system, with the raw material exposed as dirty cotton. Therefore, contaminated by various environmental offences. “BC has been repeatedly accused of greenwashing and criticised for failing to allow for full traceability of supply chains.”

Therefore, can we trust sustainable labels? No, of course not! Left alone, labels and certifications mean nothing. In fact, they are frequently used to mislead people. So, they are just greenwashing. Moreover, selling more green products is a strategy to support the overproduction model. So, it won’t solve any issue. (Download “The sustainability basics” checklist here).

Even though brands like Zara and H&M might use sustainable materials, the massive quantities they produce would nullify the sustainable effort. Why isn’t this clear? The solution is plain: we must produce and consume less. It’s the only viable strategy in the face of such devastation.
Consumers play a crucial role in perpetuating these harmful practices, often unknowingly. By reducing our consumption and demanding accountability from brands, we can make a real difference in protecting the environment and promoting sustainability.

While uncovering dirty cotton practices is crucial, it’s imperative to recognize that consuming less is fundamental for sustainability. Consume less: this is the action we must take now!

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The Gauze Maxi Shirt

Good Design and Unique Style #formodernhumans

Today, we introduce The Gauze Maxi Shirt by Meagratia, a clothing brand from Tokyo – Japan.

In the realm of Japanese fashion, Meagratia stands out as one of the most intriguing brands, aligning seamlessly with our values. Each season, the collection remains deliberately curated, avoiding excess and focusing on good design and quality. There’s a well-developed theme that goes to the essence. In fact, we do not need pointless stuff. We need less but better. Moreover, the genderless approach and the meticulous attention to detail speak volumes about the brand’s ethos.

In contrast to the prevalent narrative of fast fashion and top brands exploiting their labourers, Meagrazia diverges by acknowledging the pattern maker on the garment tag. This adds transparency to the brand’s policy.

Discover The Gauze Maxi Shirt

About the design
Unisex shirt made with double-layer gauze material using 40-thread yarn. Stand-up collar with a ribbon cascade decoration along the front. Straight line, dropped shoulder, adjustable wrist button closure. Shaped hemline and yoke on shoulders. Flamed cotton yarn is used, featuring irregularities on the fabric surface to create an elegant shirt with a vintage flavour. Also, an artisan in the centre of Kyoto dyes the fabric by hand. This piece stands out for its design and exceptional colouring.

The Gauze Maxi Shirt

About the material
Flamed cotton is among the most renowned types of cotton. Specifically, a fabric that contains slight lumps and imperfections, which are not defects but are instead highlighted, deliberately left within the yarn. Moreover, such imperfections are intentionally created during spinning, through a particular process involving knotting or twisting the cotton. So, the resulting texture is rough and irregular, allowing one to feel the perfect interlocking of each fibre, a characteristic that adds great value to the item created from this material.
100% cotton.

About the colour
Teal: an intense hue that makes it absolutely unique, and it’s very flattering.

Wash by hand. Easy care product.

Styling tips
The Gauze Maxi Shirt is a versatile garment you can wear through the seasons. Pair it with trousers or skirts for your work attire. Also, we love it under The Zipped Blouson. But wear it with shorts and sandals for your holidays. Whether for work or leisure, The Gauze Maxi Shirt offers comfort and style.

How to purchase our selection:

Head over to our Instagram account to shop!
Drop us an email or WhatsApp for orders or any further information. Also, you can book your private shopping experience in person or via video call.

International Shipping!
From Milano, our fashion selection #formodernhumans is available for international delivery.

Exclusive Fashion
Our selection intentionally offers limited pieces to ensure uniqueness and a sustainable approach ♥

● Further details, size advice and prices via  WhatsApp

🛍 Treat yourself today! Get yours directly from suite123 Instagram shop!

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Luxury is Dead

Do You Still Trust the Luxe Bubble?

There’s a statement we often repeat: luxury is dead. Though some look at us incredulously, our viewpoint isn’t a mere hyperbole. In fact, the recent Giorgio Armani controversy underscores this assertion. 

What is luxury?

Luxury is about exclusive designs made in limited numbers and not mass-produced items. Since all top brands produce their garments in huge quantities, they stopped making luxury long ago. Also, all high-end brands are so overexposed you can see them everywhere, which collides with the idea of luxury itself. Therefore, luxury is dead.

Fashion industry, luxury and forced labour

In our exploration of the fashion industry’s relationship with forced labour, it became evident that luxury brands are lagging behind in efforts to reduce forced labour. (Read our post: “Behind the seams: fashion industry and forced labour”).

It is appalling to even consider the idea of forced labour reduction, as it implies a tacit acceptance of worker exploitation.

The news of Giorgio Armani Operations being put into receivership due to labour exploitation allegations further deepens this narrative. Shockingly, the accusations reveal the indirect subcontracting of production to Chinese companies that exploit workers with deplorable working conditions and starving wages. Workers in Chinese-run workshops paid 2-3 euros/day, judges say. Probe finds migrant workers eating, and sleeping in factories.

This revelation challenges the conventional perception of luxury, especially when juxtaposed with the exorbitant retail prices of their products. But as we said so many times, luxury and fast fashion are two faces of the same coin, just for different budgets. 

Luxury is about skilled craftsmanship and quality materials, excellence made in limited quantities. But mass-produced garments and accessories with marketing manipulation, have created a fake luxury. Therefore, a bubble for people who need to feel safe behind a brand but have no understanding of quality. Both luxury and fast fashion follow the same pattern.

How luxury lost its way

When fashion businesses went from family-owned companies to big luxury conglomerates, the only luxury available was the one in the segment definition. Involved in overproduction to maximise profit, the figure of craftsmen tended to disappear. But how do brands grow profit? Exploiting workers and the planet, selecting poor quality materials to make products get a touch of class thanks to packaging and imposing locations. So, by selling a dream – illusionary luxe – they generate high margins. 

In short, the transformation of fashion Maisons from family-owned businesses to profit-oriented conglomerates has eroded the essence of luxury, reducing it to a mere label devoid of substance. 

Overproduction, exploitation, and unskilled craftsmanship taint today’s luxury fashion. The disappearance of the artisan in favour of cost-cutting measures and mass production has altered the fashion industry’s foundations. What was once synonymous with exclusivity and elegance has been diluted into a hollow semblance of its former self.

Redefining luxury

As designers, retailers and consumers, we must redefine our notion of luxury. Is it about status symbols and price tags? Or should it embody integrity, authenticity, and ethical practices? Let’s challenge the status quo and demand accountability from brands. True luxury isn’t about the price tag or the logo. It’s a commitment to craftsmanship, adequately paid, skilled hands, high-quality materials and exclusivity. 

No luxury can exist at the cost of human dignity. Let’s vote with our wallets and support brands that uphold these values. Together, we can reshape the narrative of luxury for a more ethical future.

While the fashion industry grapples with its own contradictions in a state of therapeutic obstinacy, we assert that traditional luxury is dead. Ultimately, it becomes clear that principles rather than mere price points and status symbols define true luxury #formodernhumans.

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The Boyfriend Suit

Genderless Fashion #formodernhumans

Today, we introduce The Boyfriend Suit by art259 design, new in this season at suite123 Milano boutique.

In a world of mainstream fashion that feels overcrowded and noisy, we find solace in selecting garments from brands that prioritise meaningful design over unnecessary frills. Indeed, art259 design is a made-in-Italy niche fashion brand renowned for its avant-garde creations. The two pieces we’re showcasing today embody a timeless, genderless aesthetic, reflecting the brand’s commitment to enduring style.

Crafted from high-quality materials, these garments, designed to be worn across seasons, ensure versatility and longevity in your wardrobe.

Discover The Boyfriend Suit

About the design
The Boyfriend Blazer in lightweight wool features a tailored mannish cut with a two-button closure. Two flap pockets and one welt pocket on the chest. Also, a partial lining with two internal pockets. The modern, oversized fit ensures both style and comfort.
The Boyfriend Pants are tailored trousers in lightweight wool, wide legs with a front pleat and a voluminous silhouette softly falling on the body. Button closure, two side pockets, and one back pocket, combining practicality with style.

the boyfriend suit by art259 design

About the material
Lightweight, fresh and versatile material you can wear throughout the year.
100% virgin wool

About the colour
Sugar paper, a delicate powder blue hue – stylish and easy to match.

Wash by hand in cold water. Easy care product.

Styling tips
The Boyfriend Suit comprises two pieces that harmonise seamlessly. Yet, their adaptable design permits separate wear, presenting timeless and sophisticated essentials. Whether for professional settings, formal, or evening events, these pieces endure beyond trends, destined to become wardrobe staples for life.

How to purchase our selection:

Drop us an email or WhatsApp for orders or any further information. Also, you can book your private shopping experience in person or via video call.

International Shipping!
From Milano, our fashion selection #formodernhumans is available for international delivery.

Exclusive Fashion
Our selection intentionally offers limited pieces to ensure uniqueness and a sustainable approach 🖤

● Further details and prices via WhatsApp

👉 Get yours directly from here!

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A Conversation with Miaoran

Embracing The New Generation of Creatives #formodernhumans

Exploring the narratives behind brands is our passion, so we were thrilled to engage in a conversation with Filippo, co-designer of Miaoran – an innovative brand blending contemporary craftsmanship with both Chinese and Italian influences.

White Milano, on February 24, ten years after their first White, offered a way to reconnect with a wider audience. There, we met both team members, the new generation of creatives. We had the chance to explore the FW24 collection
And so, recently, we visited Miaoran’s Milano showroom to immerse ourselves into their world, ready for an engaging dialogue.

In order to understand the origins of Miaoran, we trace back to the early experiences and inspirations that led to its inception.

Miaoran – The interview

• How was the Miaoran brand born?
Miao Ran was born in China in 1987; he moved to Milan in 2008 to pursue a three-year course in Fashion Design at the Politecnico and the Carlo Secoli Institute, where he specialised in pattern making, knitwear development, and draping techniques. In 2013, he attended the Master’s program in Fashion Design at NABA. Then, in 2014, he launched his namesake brand. In 2015, Vogue Italia selected him for the “Who is on Next?” contest, receiving the menswear award. In June 2016, Armani selected him to showcase at the Armani Theater. As the first Asian brand endorsed by Armani, it garners attention from international clientele.

Collaboration lies at the heart of Miaoran’s creative process.
• How did your collaboration come about?
After the Armani Theater, Miao opened a large space in Milan. I met him in 2018 but joined the company in 2019/20, during the full lockdown period. There was a beautiful synergy between us, which led to a natural fusion of our visions. We are two dreamers: one with wild ideas and the other more pragmatic. Stylistically, we complement each other. In 2022, I became an official partner as we sought to navigate through the challenges of the pandemic. At that time, the collection was quite extensive.

• How could you overcome that?
It was truly devastating. Due to the pandemic, Miao couldn’t return to Italy for nearly two years. On January 23, he arrived with eight suitcases filled with samples! To adapt, we organised a presentation in our showroom, inviting real people—friends, family, and NABA students (where I teach). During the event, we photographed the lookbook featuring individuals from our community. The response was successful, and we began working again. However, the key to our success was embracing change. So, we closed the big showroom and relocated to a smaller one. Also, we revised our approach to the collection to avoid waste. Now, it is a smaller and better thought-out collection: a total look that gives the possibility to mix and match with other pieces.

A conversation with Miaoran

• What is your idea of fashion design?
We are all pattern makers, emphasising the importance of a perfect fit and a fondness for textured fabrics. We approach design with a unique perspective: clothing is the home of the body, and we like to design it by looking at it upside down with life. However, the idea is to blur the differences between men and women, making it open to all genders. Garments have been deconstructed and reinterpreted. After two years of development, combining the sewing techniques of men’s and womenswear, we achieved a flawless unisex fit, believing that fashion transcends gender boundaries.

• What’s your focus?
Our focus lies in outerwear: blazers and coats are the key pieces capable of transforming one’s wardrobe. Indispensable essentials that must not be missing. However, our approach isn’t driven by fleeting trends to please the masses. Instead, we create beautiful pieces that can elevate any outfit for individuals who value fashion as an art form and seek to elevate their style effortlessly.

• What do you think about sustainability?
Once I said to my students: sustainability in fashion is fake news. Of course, sustainability is a matter of conscience. So, let’s stop producing so many pieces! We produce only on an order basis, with no warehouse, and no stock. Everything is more optimised.

• How do you see social media?
Social media takes away freedom; don’t give it. It’s all fake. Today in Milan, the “fashion capital,” but also in other cities, the meaning of fashion is decreasing. Fashion is meant for self-expression and creativity, yet everyone wears the same trends and brands. Because of social media more and more people are becoming spectators rather than being in the present and embracing personality. Therefore, we decided to offer different content. We shifted from modelling and perfection to educational aspects about craftsmanship, explanations about materials, and sewing techniques.

In conclusion, our conversation with Miaoran unveils not just a brand, but a philosophy—a dedication to innovation, authenticity, and timeless elegance. Miaoran is a brand of fashion brilliance, eclectic, and with a unique design ethos. Not the old guard who only see themselves, Miao and Filippo are adorable guys, open and humble. We are confident our conversation is the starting point for future engagements and collaborations.

Stay tuned to discover their unique designs #formodernhumans

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