Italy has long been synonymous with luxury fashion and globally-recognised design talent. A new crop of Italian entrepreneurs are changing the discourse on what it means to create a fashion company in today’s global markets, where sustainability has become a key consideration.
The fashion industry is reckoning with itself and sustainability has become the mot du jour: fast fashion brands, luxury labels and independent boutiques are all ramping up their sustainability efforts, from launching circular resale and rental services to incorporating recycled and repurposed materials into their designs or even innovating new ways to minimise the environmental footprint of aftercare.
But the true pioneers are entrepreneurs creating their own systems and doing the hard work of building planet-forward and people-forward brands from scratch complete with ethical supply chains and a low waste ethos. Below, we’re highlighting Italian founders of eco fashion startups who are shaping the future of the industry.
1. Elena Beraldo – Founder of Skin of Nature
After moving to Hong Kong to work in the apparel supply chain as a sustainable sourcing expert, Elena Beraldo decided to build her own brand Skin of Nature. It offers conscious active-lifestyle apparel and its latest collection, Aquatilis, is inspired by the work of marine biologist and underwater photographer Alexander Semenov. All the pieces are made in small batches with 100% recycled polyester yarns derived from recovered plastic bottles, which slashes the carbon footprint of the garments by 30%, reduces water wastage by 20% and energy use by 60% compared to traditional production methods. To further solidify the brand’s commitment to minimise its environmental impact, 1% of all sales from the Aquatilis collection will be donated to Semenov’s nonprofit of the same name, which supports marine conservation projects.
2. Claudia Pievani – Founder of Miomojo
Claudia Pievani founded Miomojo, the cruelty-free and sustainable Italian fashion brand offering accessories, bags and apparel using materials that do not harm the environment or any animals. While retaining the style and flair of Italian design, Miomojo’s collection ditches fur, wool, silk, feathers or leather for 100% plant-based alternatives such as apple and cactus leather, as well as recycled materials derived from recovered ghost fishing nets and plastic waste, and natural pesticide-free linen, hemp and bamboo fabrics. In addition, 10% of every purchase made online on Miomojo’s website goes towards supporting multiple animal conservation charities all around the world, including Animals Asia, Four Paws, Edgar’s Mission, Mercy for Animals and more.
3. Alessandro Nora, Ludovico Durante & Chiara Latini – Founders of STAIY
Italian trio Alessandro Nora, Ludovico Durante and Chiara Latini (alongside German-Italian Adrian Leue) came together to create STAIY, descrive themselves as the first online platform to offer customers nothing but the most eco-friendly brands, making it super easy and convenient for fashion lovers to shop without having to worry about their environmental impact. Though all from different career backgrounds (startups, finance, marketing and management), the founders are united in their vision that all garments featured on their platform should be evaluated to the highest standards under 5 main “pillars” – water use, air pollution, materials, work conditions and commitment to give back to the community. On the platform, each brand’s score is then turned into “Impact Points”, which can be collected through purchases and then be reinvested into the company’s sustainability efforts. The platform is currently more Europe-centric with many EU-based brands but they have plans to expand globally soon.
Lead image courtesy of Skin of Nature / Miomojo / STAIY / designed by Green Queen Media.