EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Cristina Ventura On Creating Impactful Change “I Want To Bring Circularity & Luxury Together”
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We recently had the insider opportunity to sit down with Christina Ventura, who is at the forefront of the sustainable fashion movement right here in Asia. After leading roles at Prada and Apple, Ventura went onto become the Chief Catalyst Officer at Lane Crawford Joyce Group. She is also the founder of circular economy impact venture LUXARITY, which combines a preloved luxury fashion shopping experience with full blockchain-enabled traceability in order to inspire conscious consumption.
In this exclusive interview, Ventura discusses the journey that led her to start LUXARITY, the game-changing role of tech in enabling the future of sustainable fashion in Asia, and finding your purpose and impact in this world.
GQ: What inspired you to start circular fashion initiative LUXARITY?
CV: LUXARITY started a few years ago, when I moved from working in luxury fashion to technology. I had accumulated a lot of beautiful luxury items, and I was moving to work for Apple. I gave a lot of items away to family and friends, but still had so many things left that I couldn’t take with me. So I decided to set up a pop-up with my best friends and sold all my beautiful Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton items – hundreds of them! All the benefits went to The Women’s Foundation to pay for grants. It was super emotional for me to see how literally a handbag could change somebody else’s life.
Then people started to ask me when the next pop-up was! But since I didn’t have any more things to sell, I connected with socialites and celebrities to donate items for a new pop-up. Ever since, I have been doing this yearly, with all the benefits going to education and sustainable innovations. That’s why I started LUXARITY – to bring circularity and luxury together.
GQ: LUXARITY says that its mission is based on three of the UN SDG goals – namely #12 Responsible Production and Consumption, #4 Quality Education, and #3 Good Health and Well-being – how does it directly tackle these three goals?
CV: This year, we are focusing mainly on responsible production and consumption. LUXARITY chose these three values because they stand for “RAW”, which is connected to our overall mission to encourage people to go back to a raw and basic life. We want to create a community of people who believe in these values, to be aware of what they buy and why they buy it, and to educate others.
All the benefits at this year’s pop-up will go to Sissi Chao’s innovative REmakeHub initiative that uses waste to create new products – directly targeting the Goal #12. In terms of education (Goal #4), in previous years we gave money to SCAD and Parsons, to support sustainability projects that inform people about how our industry affects the environment. For health and wellbeing (Goal #3), we are hosting activities and events, such as this year’s meditation talk from the founder of yoga studio Ikigai Gianni Melwani.
GQ: This year, LUXARITY has partnered up with blockchain enabled circular fashion platform Lablaco. What is the next level up / innovation for sustainable fashion?
CV: We are constantly experimenting, learning and trying out new things. Last year, we started tokenising the receipt of the total amount raised. This year, we levelled up by tokenising every single item. As you can see, you can trace the history behind every single item by scanning a code. It is remarkable to see how blockchain technology can enable the enhancement of customer experience through seeing the history of donated items. It has a real value to buy an item worn at a specific event. Fashion items have a soul, a life that can now be seen, and will continue to have a second life.
Our next step is to be able to apply blockchain to the items that turn into recycled items by Sissi Chao, for instance, to give people information about the provenance of even those items. Another advancement is to enable people to donate items from home in the future, which can help to totally simplify the circular fashion industry.
GQ: What is your ultimate goal or hope for LUXARITY?
CV: My ultimate vision is to inspire conscious consumption and create a community of like-minded individuals who believe in this lifestyle. I hope to be able to make people aware of what they are buying, to be mindful about consumption. This is why we included a footprint calculator, to allow people to see the impact of each piece. We also want to support upcoming designers and businesses that are sustainable and are promoting a transparent supply chain from production to retail level. So the goal really is to make everyone realise that less is truly more, that we should buy to make good impact, and promote recirculation.
GQ: Do you think that this circular, zero-waste fashion approach will take hold amongst consumers in HK and Asia more broadly?
CV: Yes. There are a lot of misconceptions that secondhand is not luxury. I’ve always loved buying preloved because there is a real value behind it, a story. I think pop-ups like these can prove to people that secondhand doesn’t have to be “hippie”! I completely believe that luxury fashion can be translated into preloved, and that people will realise that there is so much value in recirculated pieces. It’s important to go back to basics and buy less, meaning buying quality and luxury (new or preloved), as long term this is much more sustainable than fast fashion.
GQ: Outside of the fashion industry, what do you think is the most urgent issue facing the planet?
CV: Right now, there is a lot of noise in the climate change area. So what is really urgent, in my opinion, is to educate and make people conscious about the information they consume. We know what is right and wrong – in terms of eating, buying…everything.
GQ: As a woman leader, what do you think are the key issues that young women and girls face today, and what advice would you give?
CV: I would ask them three questions. Who are you? Why are you here? What is your impact on the world? Answer these three questions for yourself, and you can really find your purpose at an early stage. Then everything will flow naturally in your life. Don’t follow whatever society tells you to follow. Know who you are and follow your dreams to make an impact with them.
GQ: What is the best thing someone can do to adopt a more sustainable approach to fashion?
CV: Consume more preloved! Buy curated products that last for life. Go with the motto to have only a few things in the wardrobe to last for an entire lifetime. And when you have more, recirculate it to others and let it have another life. Preloved is the way to go!
GQ: Team rice or team noodles?
CV: Rice! I’m from Barcelona, and we have paella. So it has to be rice!
Hong Kong social initiative LUXARITY has launched a pop-up in Lane Crawford IFC Mall this October, featuring a designer collection curated from celebs and fashion insiders to encourage sustainable fashion habits, and thanks to circular fashion company Lablaco, customers are provided with a blockchain-powered traceable history of every single garment from where it has been worn to its environmental impact and a personalised note from the original owner.
Lead image courtesy of Cristina Ventura.