We need to create long-lasting relationships
Creativity Lifestyle and Sustainable Synergy (CLASS) founded in 2007 by Giusy Bettoni is a unique multi-platform hub based in Milan. It specialises in integrating a new generation of eco values into fashion and lifestyle brands. Bettoni discusses technological breakthroughs and shares key areas in focus at the organisations' event on International Water Day.
Tell us about the sustainable brands and companies associated with CLASS now in comparison to when you started in 2007.
CLASS was launched as a unique multi-platform hub. It was the first to introduce the idea of a three-dimensional (3D) approach to fashion in changing the way we think about the fashion supply chain. The 3D approach means: creativity + innovation + responsibility, all offered in the same project thanks to the culture of the company behind it. The first aggregation of responsible material producers with design and innovation was built into their DNA. At that time, the aim was to demonstrate that sustainable materials were as good as conventional. Today, we have gone beyond. We can offer products that jointly embody creativity, innovation, responsibility and culture. Plus, consumers are now ready to perceive them in the right way.
Where do most materials curated in the CLASS libraries come from?
The majority of our partners are from Italy and Japan, countries that traditionally offer a premium mix of quality, innovation, design-and today-responsibility too in taking the lead in smart innovation. Interesting examples can also be found in the Porto region, Germany and France.
Which are the top responsible innovations in the field of textiles and fashion?
CLASS is proud to have been part of the creation and launch of two premium circular economy projects, that are also strongly connected with the topic of water savings.
One for wool: Re.Verso, launched in 2014, was the result of two years' dedication in the development of the concept and processes by three protagonists: Gucci, CLASS and Re.Verso. Together, we worked diligently to leverage the advantage that a new and unique supply chain could achieve in delivering more innovative yet responsible fashion materials. Re.Verso is the brand of a new, circular economy manufacturing system for wool and cashmere, developed by qualified partners and representing an advanced 100 per cent Made in Italy, integrated, transparent and traceable supply chain. Re.Verso means gathering, selection and processing of exclusive pre-consumer trimmings of already dyed wool and cashmere for the creation of yarns and fabrics for the fashion and contract sector.
Re.Verso is an exclusive partner to which business can also give their wool and cashmere pre-consumer trimmings of woven and knits for business optimisation by targeting zero waste and a true circular economy. Re.Verso raw materials are Global Recycling Standard (GRS) and SA8000 certified; furthermore, the study of the product's life circle (life cycle assessment)) performed by Prima Q on Re.Verso wool and cashmere products, compared with the same kind of "conventional" products, has shown the following saving rate:
- Saving/1.000 Kg of Re.Verso wool, as compared to virgin wool: 76 per cent energy, 89 per cent water, 96 percent CO2 emissions;
- Saving/1.000 Kg of Re.Verso, as compared to virgin cashmere: 82 per cent energy, 92 per cent water, 97 per cent CO2 emissions.
Re.Verso has been already adopted by premium brands as Stella McCartney, Patagonia, Filippa K and Eileen Fisher.
For Cotton: Ecotec by Marchi & Fildi, launched in 2015, is a unique and traceable, Made in Italy, circular economy process that transform already dyed, 100 per cent pre-consumer cotton clippings into yarns. As a result, they come in a wide-range of fantastic colours that are stock-ready, a major selling point for Ecotec. The cotton yarns can contain up to 80 per cent of the transformed material-another advantage in comparison to conventional transformed cotton. Ecotec as a trademark represents a high-quality range of 100 per cent traceable yarns which offer contemporary values as chemical safety and human health, as well as record reductions in water usage , C02 emissions and energy usage compared to conventional and organic cotton as confirmed by an LCA study: 77.9 per cent less water usage, 56.3 per cent less CO2 emissions and 56.6 per cent less energy usage.
The unique Marchi & Fildi process and know-how, applied for Ecotec yarns, offer to brands and retailers a concrete and direct opportunity to supply their own clippings of pre-consumer cotton fabrics and knits and see them being transformed into high-quality yarns optimising their joint endeavours and targeting a zero waste position. On top of this, Ecotec is also widening its portfolio range thanks to the introduction of special yarns with counts and styles designed for knitwear production:
- Ecotec Moulinè and micromoulinè yarns: offer amazing colour effects and precious touch that is always fresh and cool. Considering that Ecotec yarns are not dyed, it is quite a smart look and achievement.
- Ecotec cable: soft twists for full body hand, authentic touch and amazing colour cards available.
Last but not the least, recent adoptions of Ecotec included the homewear sector, specifically Portuguese home textiles manufacturer Mundotêxtil together with Italian spinner Marchi & Fildi's smart cotton yarn, Ecotec, launched a market-first responsibly-made cotton towel innovation that saves on water usage, energy consumption and CO2 emissions at the Heimtextil international trade fair for home and contract textiles.
What parameters do brands and companies need to meet to partner with CLASS?
CLASS partners around the world are spinners, weavers, knitters, fibre makers, brands, and all producers involved in the textiles sector-companies that inspire creativity and infuse technology, performance and sustainable credentials in taking steps towards a circular economy. Each partner identifies sustainability as a brand ingredient and an integral part of business throughout the supply chain.
Which textile companies are pioneering the sustainable design and production across the globe?
We would want to highlight three interesting examples coming from different countries.
Tintex Textiles SA, founded in the Porto region in 1998, has become a leading contemporary fabrics innovation maker of naturally advanced, smart and responsibly-crafted jersey fabrics designed to activate the contemporary fashion, sports and lingerie markets. This season, Tintex announced its complete switch from the use of conventional cotton and the concomitant launch of a new fabric range that is the highest expression of the new generation of cotton: naturally-advanced cotton by Tintex. This new amazing range offers an advanced smart choice of three different premium and responsible advanced cotton solutions such as Ecotec by Marchi & Fildi, GOTS certified organic cotton and Supima. In addition to this, Tintex announced its membership with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a not-for-profit organisation that makes global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the sector's future as well.
Ipeker is a leading Turkish textiles producer-the first to offer a range of certified vegetarian fabrics made with several fibres such as cupro.
Filpucci Group: The company started its journey towards responsible innovation being part of the Re.Verso platform and today, they have launched a responsible premium collection by selecting the smartest and most precious fibres for a range of eight high-end yarns.
Tell us about the key topics and highlights of the event to be held on International Water Day. What is the main agenda?
On Thursday, March 22, CLASS, with support from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), will invite fashion industry leaders, designers and members of the press to celebrate an evening of smart innovation. An exceptional team of artists, filmmakers, food and textiles designers have created an immersive experience that will engage the guests' senses highlighting that smart innovation is the new standard for fashion. The experience will examine the four key areas that are vital to CLASS's business philosophy: heritage-smart innovation-circular economy-design responsibility. Today, we can't say more than this, as it will be a journey of senses to discover the new values of fashion.
What are the challenges in keeping the textiles and fashion industry clean and green?
In advocating significant reductions in water and energy usage and CO2 emissions, CLASS's message has always been one of consistency. But now, with today's customers becoming increasingly mindful in terms of the environment, the timing has never been better in bringing awareness to the ways that responsible sustainability can be incorporated, in an authentic way, into a fashion or lifestyle brand, thereby increasing the bottom line without compromising design integrity.
How does CLASS help overcome them (the challenges)?
At CLASS we believe that transparency in the supply chain together with a stronger and, first of all, clearer, communication about new smart certified values (for example use of water, chemicals, energy, ethical policies etc.) could be something really fundamental for consumers to judge and value products in a complete (beautiful, innovative and responsible) way. Our knowledgeable partners are at the forefront of materials technology and innovation, and so are able to include responsibility. They are committed to design responsibility.
The textile hubs of the world, especially in the economically backward regions, need more of such initiatives. What steps do you take to reach out to those areas?
Today, we are engaging with these realities through the eyes and hands of our partners. A key example is Ecotec, that is getting the majority of the pre-consumer clippings used in the production from Bangladesh. Another example is the BCI. Through BCI and its partners, farmers receive training on how to use water efficiently, care for the health of the soil and natural habitats, reduce use of the most harmful chemicals and apply decent work principles. We truly believe that we can't only proceed with sporadic and short-period social projects; we really need to create new long-lasting relationships that empower business and support social growth.
Do you think consumers are conscious of shopping? Where is the movement strong?
Today, consumers are aware and conscious. The consumers are ready to get more. However, the issue now is: what are we offering them? How we are communicating with them? I can't explain at length here, but I can assure you that this is a critical weak point that could become a real opportunity. We need to align project values with communication to brands. We need to do more to inform consumers about the responsible innovations that brands are offering. Otherwise, they will never be able to understand the value of what is offered. On top of this, the word "sustainability "at the consumer level has been so misused that it is not anymore synonymous of the value it deserves.
What are your predictions for the textiles and fashion industry for 2025?
First of all, I hope the fashion industry will not be the second-most polluting industry. In 10 years' time, everything will have the responsible factor integrated, and we will be in an era of the circular economy. So, we will be in an industry that will not debate only about ingredients and better production, but in a technological shape where production will not be what it used to be. New technology such as "formation-based" will be more advanced and CLASS will look at the next steps of innovation. (HO)