Threads of change

Elevating fashion with purposeful design and limited quantities

In this exploration, we delve into the threads of change, the transformative power of good design and limited quantities. Join us on a journey where fashion intersects with purpose, quality, and conscious consumption.

The British Fashion Council recently unveiled the winners of the Fashion Awards 2023, an event that celebrates the forefront of fashion and serves as a fundraiser for the BFC Foundation Charity. This gala not only spotlights creative talent but also underscores the pivotal role of fashion at the crossroads of culture and entertainment.

One of the most notable moments of the evening was the tribute to Valentino Garavani for his outstanding contribution to fashion. The celebration was marked by a spectacular fashion show featuring 24 iconic red dresses, all set against the backdrop of “An evening at the opera with Valentino.” This ballet, filmed in his hometown of Voghera, paid homage to his legacy, even dedicating the local theater to his name.
Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s lifetime business partner, received the award on his behalf. His interview to the Financial Times Fashion is a lesson on contemporary fashion industry.

Fashion, culture and change

In our journey through the blogging world, we’ve consistently emphasised the intrinsic connection between fashion and broader cultural themes. While this relationship might not be immediately evident to everyone, we firmly believe it exists.

Our message has been clear: fashion is not merely about an endless array of clothing and accessories. Endless catalogues with tons of options, or stores packed with clothes with the consequent need to push people to shop more and more.
Meaningful fashion, to us, embodies the principles of slow fashion, handcrafted garments, precise tailoring, and, above all, limited quantities. This approach isn’t just an aesthetic choice; it’s the cornerstone of sustainability within the fashion industry.

It’s crucial to distinguish true sustainability from what often amounts to greenwashing. In fact, brands or stores claiming sustainability while continuing to overproduce garments are missing the mark entirely.

However, reflecting on Giancarlo Giammetti‘s recent interview in the Financial Times resonates deeply with us. His sentiments echo the very challenges we face in today’s culture, which seems distant from this vision.

Giammetti’s words, particularly, strike a chord:

“We left because the industry changed and meetings were all about money, not design. Sales forecasts decided what got created. The conglomerates made each label work to the same model. We couldn’t launch today. If we did, we’d be doing slow fashion, inviting fewer people to buy, at the highest quality. You don’t have to be judged on the number of dresses you make. And sustainability must be everyone’s preoccupation right now.”

via Financial Times Fashion
Giancarlo Giammetti

In fact, our radical fashion proposition and business model sometimes feel demotivating in a world fixated on overconsumption. But Giammetti’s stance is a comforting reminder. Indeed, it reaffirms our belief: embracing a model based on good design, quality and limited quantity.

These threads of change are a pivotal shift towards a more conscious and sustainable fashion industry. Embracing this ethos isn’t merely a choice; it’s a statement—a commitment to crafting a better, more responsible future through our fashion choices.

Ethical choices

From fashion to lifestyle: do you take them into account?

“Ethical choices shouldn’t be left to us! Ethics shouldn’t fall on us!” Remarked a friend when he felt obliged to purchase products at a low price to stay within the family budget. We know that if the price is too low, someone pays. Usually, the cost falls on people and the planet: see modern-day slavery, pollution and climate change.

The low-price pattern applies not only to the fashion system but to any industry. When we look at ourselves in the mirror, we want to feel good about our choices and their impact on the world. Of course, it’s unfair to put the burden of ethical choices solely on consumers.

However, brands, corporations, and governments ignore the matter. Well, they say they care, and talk about ethical fashion. Also, they support workers. But they do not do the one thing that would allow people a decent lifestyle: paying proper wages. Why? Because enslaving people through the manufacturing chains maximizes profits, which is the only thing that counts for them.

On the hunt for low prices

So, forget ethics for brands and corporations. The ethical choice is up to the end consumers. We can divide them into two groups:
The biggest group are workers who struggle to make ends meet. Although some care about ethics, they cannot afford better choices. So they feel forced to purchase products coming from unfair conditions.
In a smaller group, we find rich people who are happy to close their eyes in the face of ethics, modern-day slavery or climate change. Actually, they don’t care! Exploiting people is okay with their worldview as long as they can keep purchasing cheap products.
What’s your counterargument? Are ethical products too expensive? People from the second group label products of a certain cost as unethical. We’ve heard this plenty of times! But they consider okay cheap stuff made by slaves. Weird reasoning! Isn’t it?

Solutions to ethical choices

Solutions such as government regulations and corporate social responsibility are essential. In fact, the burden of ethical choices must shift from consumers to governments and corporations. They must hold themselves accountable as they are in charge of the economy.

Downward price logic is the expression of a rotten society which exploits people and the planet. But in this race to the bottom, how many slaves does the economy need in the future? And do they have a planet B?

Protests in Bangladesh

How the fashion industry leads workers to starvation

Large protests are happening in Bangladesh, where garment workers demand higher wages. Following clashes with the police, who used tear gas and rubber bullets, four textile workers have died. Sadly, they paid with their own life the demand for better pay.

Our thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives, the dozens who ended up in hospitals and also those who still protest for a decent living.

The fashion industry & the poverty wage

Low wages made Bangladesh the second largest clothing exporter after China, developing a huge industry for the country. There are about four million garment workers, mostly women, whose wages are the lowest in the world. In addition, the inflation and the devaluation of the taka against the US dollar (30% from the beginning of 2023) created unsustainable conditions for workers.

According to the government, monthly pay would rise by 56,25% to 12,500 taka – 114 USD. Basically, they want to keep workers under the poverty line. But workers want more: “Prices are skyrocketing. We are just demanding decent pay. We will not return to work until our demands are met,” one of the protesters said. Isn’t it understandable? In fact, workers ask for 208 USD a month in pay.

Fashion and workers’ rights

Specifically, garment workers in Bangladesh make clothes for large groups such as H&M, Zara, Gap, and Levi’s. Brands like Next, Asos, New Look and Inditex (Zara) say they support workers. Which is good, but words aren’t enough; they must pay more! That’s how they can back workers for real.

About ten years after the Rana Plaza collapse, garment factories packed in a nine-story building, but nothing has changed. The fashion industry learned no lesson. Beyond the beautiful facades or (fake) ethical practices, exploitation is still the most convenient pattern for capitalism to make a high profit. And so famous brands make profits on the backs of workers.

Protests for a decent living

Now let’s also consider the millions of consumers who, every day, go shopping for brands whose manufacturing scheme is well-known. Perhaps they don’t mind workers’ rights since they aren’t directly affected. Do low prices attract your attention? Do you think before purchasing a new piece of clothing whose price is so cheap it couldn’t cover any manufacturing cost? And do you feel okay supporting a vision of the world based on forced labour?

Protests are going on in Bangladesh, demanding a decent living. People lost lives, and many others are starving. It seems that brands do not question their sourcing and manufacturing policy. But what about you: how can you close your eyes when shopping?

Ignoring Black Friday’s impact

Is overconsumption the only reason to live?

Despite the abundance of information available, people still ignore Black Friday’s impact.

Indeed, it’s essential to remember the truth behind it. This promotional event is a dangerous marketing trick. In fact, it leads to toxic, mass overconsumption and generates monstrous quantities of waste harmful to the environment. But our planet cannot sustain this economic and lifestyle system, so we need to stop.

As a retailer, if you participate in sales and promotions such as Black Friday, you contribute to a system that has failed.
This system does not offer a place for change and encourages you to foster the status quo by ignoring reality.

The fashion system, as well as any other industry, does not make reasonable or sustainable quantities. On the contrary, it produces large amounts in excess; the sole purpose is to maximise profits. Unfortunately, they do it at the expense of people and the planet.

Against Black Friday’s wastefulness #formodernhumans

We are unhappy with the current fashion system and choose not to participate in sales and promotions. That means no Black Friday for us.

We value consistency. So, we refuse to be part of something against our values and principles. And we take responsibility for our actions. That includes how we present our work and conduct ourselves while interacting with you. Though we understand that this might limit our audience, we believe it’s the right thing to do.

The big question is why people don’t see further than their noses. Why don’t they see the negative impact of this system? The results of Black Friday are crystal clear: mountains high of waste polluting the earth and waters are undeniable.

So, why do people ignore Black Friday’s impact? Why do most people not want to educate themselves? Do you think overconsumption is the only reason to live?

Do you know there’s a healthier alternative? Buy Nothing! Above all, stop buying pointless shit!

Share your thoughts here below or WhatsApp directly from this link!

PFAS: an invisible enemy

Environment, pollution and fashion

There’s a scary, invisible enemy: PFAS chemicals. Found in everything from your favourite outdoor jacket to the drinking water you consume, these chemicals pose a serious threat to both the environment and human health.

To better understand this threat, we attended a Greenpeace meeting at Arci Bellezza with Fashion Revolution, Mamme NO PFAS, CNR, IRSA, and Consorzio Italiano Detox.

We were familiar with the topic thanks to “Dark Waters” – a remarkable movie with Mark Ruffalo. Indeed, contamination is known worldwide: read more on Le Monde.

What are PFAS chemicals?

What are PFAS chemicals?
PFAS (poly and perfluoroalkyl compounds) are a large group of synthetic molecules (over 10 thousand) produced only by human activities. Also called forever chemicals, meaning once released into the environment, we’ll never get rid of them!

What are the health risks?
They are dangerous for health and associated with numerous pathologies, even serious ones, including some forms of cancer. Several European states asked to ban them.

Where are PFAS used for?
Industries have used PFAS since the 1950s to produce numerous commercial products: fabric waterproofers, carpets, leathers, insecticides, firefighting foams, paints, food container lining, non-stick pans, floor wax, detergents and beauty products.

Fashion industry and PFAS
From outdoor garments to water-repellent materials, raincoats, jeans, and undies. The fashion industry uses these chemicals throughout the manufacturing cycle.

The contamination in Lombardy:

Greenpeace detected PFAS in the waters of many Lombardy municipalities, including Milan. Carried out on a sample of data – by an independent accredited laboratory – the analyses highlighted the presence of PFAS in 11 drinking water samples out of the 31 collected. In four cases, the PFAS concentration is higher than the limit of the European Directive 2020/2184. In seven cases, the results show variable total PFAS concentrations.

Among the speakers Greenpeace has invited, Michela’s words, a member of “Mamme NO PFAS” – was really powerful! A mother from the Veneto region, the most impacted area, found out her daughter’s blood contained a high quantity of these chemicals. So, she joined other mothers to make their voices heard by politicians, inspiring others to do so.

How can we protect ourselves?

Being informed on contaminated areas, filter the tap water. However, some articles say to limit the use of products containing chemicals. Which sounds like “take your poison, but take it responsibly!”
But, given that PFAS are an invisible enemy, can we really protect ourselves from them?

We believe addressing single fields, such as fashion, agriculture or others, is relatively effective because there is a major cause we need to address. And this major cause is our economic system, capitalism, which sucks life out of the planet as well as out of humans.

Furthermore, how can we humans consider ourselves intelligent when we pour pollutants into the water, poisoning our own environment?

Donate to Greenpeace to support their investigations!

What is fashion design today?

Sharing some thoughts on contemporary fashion design

What is fashion design today? What is it? When everything is already done and nothing new can be made? But you still happen to read news about “the one who complained the other one copied her.”

So what is it when those who started their own collection or image concept already did it by taking inspiration from others and remixing what other designers have already done! Perhaps they don’t even realise where their ideas come from.

And what is fashion design today? When contemporary creatives have no humility to say: ‘I made this’ – and this is my style because I took inspiration from this or that designer who made such a fantastic work.

What is fashion design today? If people praise the ones who complain that another designer has copied them! But for what? For flower prints? Or for flowered head decorations? Really?

Again, what is fashion design today? When everything is possible. So brands who assemble clothes as we’ve seen trillion of times, feel like the new gods of fashion.

And when inspiration and remixing have flattened the fashion industry to such a degree that everything, every brand, looks the same. And doing so has deprived fashion of its DNA, core differences and, in essence, of its meaning.

Can modern designers, creative directors and so on stay humble? If they feel copied, Mr Cristobal should resurrect and say something about endless collections made from his archive! Can people understand there is no true genius in the fashion industry nowadays?

On 14 October, in Florence, Antonio Marras arranged a show making clothes for 20 cancer patients; the defilè – “Sfilata del prendersi cura” (the show of taking care) – was a message of hope. You can watch it here. But, an Italian brand accused him of copying her.

This sterile controversy made us reflect. First, Marras’ idiosyncrasy has never been in question. Also, bravo for this caring project! In the end, what is fashion design today? It’s about copy and paste. In some cases, following a valuable guiding idea. In most cases -those who tend to complain – pointless reproductions we could avoid seeing. Moreover, it has been done so many times, that the arrogance to claim originality seems out of context.

Miscellaneous thoughts on fashion

A critical perspective on the industry

Three miscellaneous thoughts on fashion we’ve read this week seem to have something in common: fashion’s lack of understanding of its role in climate change.

Fashion & the heatwave in Italy

In order to tackle the heatwave in Italy, Federmoda – the organisation that represents retail and wholesale companies in the fashion field – asks to reduce taxes on made-in-Italy and sustainable garments.
“Made in” is a very tricky concept to address. According to the Updated Community Customs Code (EC Regulation 04/23/2008 n° 450 – art. 36 – on the non-preferential customs origin of goods), a product can be considered of Italian origin – in the customs sense – and contain, therefore, the indication “Made in Italy” when the last substantial transformation or processing took place in our country. Ta-da!
So, brands can make production wherever, then assemble a few things in Italy and get the magic label.
However, since there is no precise regulation, labelling and certifying sustainable garments is way more problematic.
Perhaps this proposal can relieve the pressure on fashion retailers, but it doesn’t change the core issue: fashion business pattern.

Luxury brands & revenge shopping slow down

Consumption of luxury goods in China and the USA has dropped because the much-awaited post-pandemic revenge shopping is slowing down. In fact, stock markets report a general decline for luxury companies. And so, the slowdown in China’s recovery and the cooling of demand from US consumers are impacting top brands who, undaunted, still commit to the same old model.

Vuitton & inconsistency

Pharrell Williams aims to push expansion and growth in sales to Vuitton, but also culture. Undeniably, the white culture has dominated the industry so far, and it seems quite clear what audience Vuitton is targeting by partnering with Mr Pharrell. However, the brand has a long history at its back. So shifting the discussion on culture, specifically a culture not even consistent with its core image, is meaningless.
Let’s say openly: we want to sell more! But there’s no need to mention culture since Vuitton’s culture has nothing in common with this new air.

Three thoughts, one pattern

The above miscellaneous thoughts on fashion are connected: the industry business pattern plays a huge role in climate change. But the discussions industry insiders deliver, basically ignore the issue.

This is Autumn?

Global boiling & its impact on the fashion industry

September 23rd was the first Autumn day, but this is Autumn? Sunday, the temperature in Milano reached 32 Celsius (about 90 Fahrenheit). In other words, we don’t have to wait for climate change – climate change is here. For brands and fashion retailers, it is particularly odd.

Specifically, it’s the global boiling era. Yet, in every industry, as well as in fashion, people work like nothing serious happens. Do they wear blinders? Don’t they feel the heatwave? Or maybe they think: “Yes, it’s hot, but there’s nothing we can do.”
As a matter of fact, in every field, people like cogs dutifully do their job. No questioning. It seems money, budgets, and turnover is what counts. Who cares if we are boiling?

What’s the impact of climate change on the fashion industry?

Fall/Winter shop windows reveal the inadequacy of fashion. Fashion is out of sync with current times.
First, people still wear lightweight clothing. We don’t need warm garments now. Indeed, stores overflow with wool sweaters, coats, down jackets, and all the winter stuff. But who dares now to try a wool sweater when the temperature invites you to the beach?
Second: sooner or later, cold weather will come. However, because of the heat wave, retailers who sell mass-produced garments will lose about two full-price months from the selling season. That means mass retailers’ unsold stock will be huge. Therefore, they will sell most garments during the end-of-season sale.

Autumn fashion in the global boiling era

In this context, it is clear that the actual pattern (mass manufacturing/ overproduction and distribution) doesn’t work anymore. We must stop and rethink the fashion industry from scratch. Ignoring climate change is dangerous nonsense since it is now a tangible reality.

Also, the above points come from a financial perspective, while ethics should be our first concern. Raising awareness on climate action is crucial. We must reduce our impact on the planet. How do we do it? By limiting by far our consumption to what really counts. Consume less. Don’t buy pointless stuff. Avoid waste.

Above all, start asking yourself: This is Autumn?
Most people pretend nothing happens. But with what conscience do they keep their eyes closed?

Paris Fashion Week 24

Between power and creativity

What was in the air at Paris Fashion Week 24? Less excessive designs, except for a few ones. In general, more elegance and simplicity. As well as in Milano, collections seemed to be more wearable.

Every season, the fashion Maisons presents high-budget commercial shows competing with the best location. Luxury venues contribute to making it a matter of power more than creativity. For instance, Eiffel’s background at Saint Laurent was impressive. However, we found intriguing the image of a worker-chic woman.

Above all, we applaud the Undercover brand, which really stood out with its essential but very evocative presentation. Its fashion show had the feeling of poetry with suits, sweatshirts, jewellery and chandeliers encapsulated in tulle. Also, the dreamy atmosphere piqued in the finale, with terrific x-ray terrarium dresses, was so mind-blowing, the chills it gave us!

Apart from the overall mood and the idea of style, we cannot understand the choice of switching Sarah Burton with the umpteenth young male designer. Sarah Burton’s collection for McQueen SS24 is absolutely stunning: a maxi red rose printed on a white slip dress or two evening gowns that seem like petals that fluctuate at every step, revealing the shade of colours. Isn’t the Kering group satisfied? Seán McGirr, the new designer, comes from JW Anderson, a move that gives the idea of a more commercial take. Perhaps they believe McQueen must reach a larger audience to grow and make more money, assuming McQueen can be a mass brand.

But what do these groups try to do? Such a move reminds us of the game played with Margiela. Perhaps they made it for a larger audience, but it’s not Margiela anymore. Will this be the path for McQueen, too?

In the end, celebrities and more celebrities. No big risk. The Paris Fashion Week 24 seems to be a matter of power and money more than creativity.

The paradox of sustainability

Is sustainable overproduction a valuable strategy?

Do you know the paradox of sustainability? The paradox is this: making many more garments labelled as green products. In other words, it means perpetrating the same old overproduction pattern and marketing it as sustainable.

If that’s how you make money, why should you change? Okay, but the planet is dying, and we are facing a climate emergency the fashion industry should care about! Well, the attention towards this topic is just a facade.

In fact, according to Edited, “In the past four years, the number of clothes described as ‘sustainable’ has quadrupled.”

Green overproduction: the paradox sustainability

Yes, we know we write about this topic a lot. But when the data we ran across confirms our impressions and perplexities, it is appropriate to address it over and over.
Is sustainable overproduction a valuable strategy? Specifically, is that how we plan to save the planet? Making four times the stuff we made before is our strategy?

If this is true, we are far from reducing our impact on the planet. Of course, that is not sustainability. And it doesn’t take a genius to understand it. So, let’s call it by its name: this is marketing! This is greenwashing!

Sustainable fashion, like eco furniture, food, tourism or whatever, has become a profitable business. And more than an effective change of direction, it represented a change of marketing. Just call it green, and you’re going to sell it! Whatever object or service you are trying to launch on the market.

The solution the fashion industry ignores

Let’s be clear: sustainable fashion, rather than making new garments and new stuff in huge green quantities, is a matter of educating people towards conscious consumption. Indeed, the solution is producing way less garments. At the same time, we reuse, resell, recycle and upcycle existing clothing.

But, instead of educating people, for the fashion industry, it is easier to make money by flooding the market with sustainable products. Which, in the end, aren’t sustainable at all.

And so, this is the paradox of sustainability: making four times more garments and naming them sustainable. Unfortunately for us and for the planet, it is not a joke!

Free download our sustainability checklist here!