At a seminar at the 8th Future Fabrics Expo, moderated by Arizona Muse, G-Star Raw’s denim and sustainability expert Adriana Galijasevic sat down to talk all things sustainable with designer Tiziano Guardini
During the 8th Future Fabrics Expo last week, designer Tiziano Guardini and G-Star Raw’s denim and sustainability expert Adriana Galijasevic sat down with model and sustainability campaigner Arizona Muse to discuss their visions. While the two fashion brands operate on different levels in the industry – the latter is a global brand, the former a high-end designer working on a much smaller scale – they are united by the goal of being sustainable.
Tiziano Guardini is an Italian designer who defines his work as ‘ecouture’. Case in point, for the event Muse turns up wearing one of Tiziano Guardini’s elegant dresses. The vibrant blue style is created from peace silk, a cruelty-free version of silk made after the silkworms have turned into butterflies. Tiziano Guardini founded his label just a few years ago, but that hasn’t impeded the designer from gaining international recognition for his ground-breaking work.
By contrast, G-Star Raw turns 30 this year. Since being founded in 1989 it has become one of the leading denim brands in the world and it draws on three decades of experience and research. ‘Sustainability is a must as a business practice,’ says Galijasevic, and this outlook has helped it achieve many sustainable milestones, particularly during the past decade. One of the brand’s most recent triumphs was the launch of the Most Sustainable Jeans Ever last year. It also prides itself on 98% recyclability (as opposed to 75% in the past), with the remaining 2% being down to the unrecyclable care labels, which have to be cut off jeans.
Although being sustainable offers its challenges, it also opens brands up to many possibilities, as Galijasevic highlights. It’s a good time to become sustainable, she says, ‘there are so many resources’. Indeed, there are plenty of organisations that share a same or similar vision, one of these being the non-profit innovation institute Cradle to Cradle. For its Most Sustainable Jeans Ever, G-Star Raw developed gold level Cradle to Cradle certified denim. Talking about this joint project, Galijasevic explains: ‘Nature doesn’t produce any waste, so we should be designing in a way that doesn’t produce any waste.’ Cradle to Cradle offers a holistic approach to design by considering the entire life cycle of a product. Among other things, the gold level Cradle-to-Cradle certified denim is made from 100% organic cotton, dyed in a new indigo process that contains less toxins, and made in working conditions that are both safe and fair.
Under the Cradle to Cradle umbrella, G-Star Raw published its findings and process, sharing the knowledge of the Most Sustainable Jean Ever so that other mills can learn and adapt the methods to their own production. In an industry where innovations are closely guarded secrets, G-Star Raw goes against the status quo and paves the way forward by sharing its knowledge. As Tiziano Guardiani rightly says, when it comes to sustainability ‘communication is key’.
In response to a question from Muse, asking what the two designers would change if they could go back 10 years, Galijasevic wishes there had been more discussions back then, underlining that we might be at a more advanced stage with sustainability now. Communication sits within the broader framework of educating brands and consumers. While it may not be possible to turn back time, it’s important for brands to move forwards by harnessing this. Guardiani comments that it’s very important for the future ‘to be responsible from now’. Galijasevic shares this mindset, adding ‘it’s a work in progress ‒ and the future is interesting’.
Guardiani designs elegant gowns, and at G-Star Raw the focus is very much on casual denim. However, the meeting of the two brands at the 8th Future Fabrics Expo highlights that regardless of style, target audience or price bracket, brands have no excuse not to engage in sustainability any more.