#SustainableAfter, Episode 1

How to maintain Fashion’s sustainability momentum despite its survival mode? Three concrete suggestions by the industry insiders

In this episode we spoke with:
Dr Carmen Hijosa, the creator of Pinatex, Founder and Chief Creative and Innovation Officer at Ananas Anam Ltd.
Giulio Cesareo, CEO & Founder of Directa Plus
Tony Tonnaer, Founder and King of Inspiration at Kings of Indigo

It took decades for sustainable fashion to get from its humble “granola” beginnings to the coolness of Emma Watson on the cover of Vogue UK last summer, checking the “green credentials” of each item she wore, using a hip sustainable fashion app.

The momentum had been building for quite a while and finally in 2019 everything seemed to have clicked. There was leadership and there was a plan. Brands seemed willing. Consumers appeared more conscious. The media were bursting with sustainability articles, while some progressive governments started applying pressure for the things to change. It felt as if 2020 was going to be the leap year for fashion sustainability.

Enter Coronavirus.

Right now, the economic outlook for the fashion industry is not a happy one. Yet, today more than ever, it is important not to lose focus from the sustainability commitment the sector declared less than a year ago. Although arguably the times have never been tougher, the Covid19 crisis could actually be a unique opportunity to reassess major issues and start making fundamental changes that are long overdue.

In theory yes, one would say. But, people’s jobs are at stake. The future is uncertain.

To move away from theory, I spoke with three remarkable industry insiders and focused on concrete actions.

Each of them is a pioneer in their own line of business, helping move the industry forward, showing what is possible by blending sustainability with innovation.

The result was a lively discussion packed with precious insights. But, don’t take my word for it.

Here’s a bit of what they said.

“This is a time when we could make a few changes. Factories are closed. Shops are closed. All stores are full with Spring Summer goods. […] It would be great if the governments regulated more the sales periods, especially this summer. It’s important that [shops] don’t go into huge discounts. At the end we know that, if there is no margin, the supplier gets paid less. They are the weakest link in our system and we need to protect them.” Tony Tonnaer, Founder and King of Inspiration at Kings of Indigo

“We expect that the protective-wear will move on faster than any other [fashion segment], in line with what the customer needs and wants. If I am to go next week on the tube in Milan and someone sneezes next to me, I don’t want to go back home and wash my jacket. We have to be ready with properties of our materials to support the textile industry in the right way.” Giulio Cesareo, CEO & Founder of Directa Plus

“I think the new normal will bring new collaborations. We really have to get stronger together within the industry, also as a thinking process. We need to share strategies, data… We need to share humaneness – and this is really important. How can we together really care better for people and the Earth?” Dr Carmen Hijosa, the creator of Pinatex, Founder and Chief Creative and Innovation Officer at Ananas Anam Ltd.

Listen to the full conversation here.

Who are they?

Dr Carmen Hijosa, the creator of Pinatex, Founder and Chief Creative and Innovation Officer at Ananas Anam Ltd.
The creator of Piñatex®, the innovative natural material made from pineapple leaf fibre, which serves as replacement for leather. Defining herself as “social entreprenour”, Carmen is a sspecialist in natural fibres, sustainable textiles and international supply chain development.

Giulio Cesareo, CEO & Founder of Directa Plus
Giulio is an Italian entrepreneur, who in 2005 founded Directa Plus, a technology company pursuing the development and commercialization of innovative manufacturing processes for the production of engineered graphene materials. Graphene has applications in the garment sector, but it also can serve as a more durable alternative in for asphalt and tyre industry. Directa Plus has very promptly reacted to the Covid-19 crisis, by creating special masks for medical workers and for the “back to work” return.

Tony Tonnaer, Founder and King of Inspiration at Kings of Indigo
Since 2012 Kings of Indigo (K.O.I) makes quality denims, tops and accessories inspired by American classics with a Japanese eye for detail. The entire collection is designed with sustainability in mind: when it comes to garment durability, material sourcing and the approach to the supply chain. Under Tony’s vision, Kings of Indigo has come to stand for one of those small but mighty brands that are leading the way, showing to the denim industry what is possible.

Jelena Tasic Pizzolato, Director of Innovation Scouting & Deal Flow, Loomish SA
In her innovation role with Loomish, Jelena connects the dots among investors, start-ups and big corporations in search for open innovation within the European Lifestyle (Fashion, Design, Food, Travel) ecosystem. With 15+ years of international business experience, she has lead marketing and strategic projects for several Fortune 500 companies in more than 10 different European markets, including UK, Italy and Switzerland.

About #SustainableAfter series: In these panel discussions, our goal is to explore the ways in which the Covid19 crisis could actually serve as a catalyst for change in fashion. Each week, we will be hosting conversations with entrepreneurs, brands, investors and opinion leaders working in and around fashion sustainability.