Cañada students gain eco-inspiration in Italy

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Nowhere has this axiom been truer than in Italy, a stunningly beautiful but resource-scarce country. A group of Cañada students—the fourth to study Italian fashion abroad—learned about a range of sustainable fashion innovations arising first out of the harsh constraints of war and, more recently, a concern for the environment.

” ‘Sustainability’ defines the human capacity to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”International Institute for Sustainable Development

Our Study Abroad in Italy students, class of 2019

Our students toured several sites in Prato, a centuries-old textile center near Florence. Among other stops was “regenerative” manufacturer Lofoio.

“Lofoio … in Prato … has a card [that says,] “la verginità non è più una virtù, [in English:] “Virginity is no longer a virtue,” meaning virgin fibers are no longer the best fibers—in favor of repurposing old clothes to make new …”
—Leslie Abrams, student

They also had guest speakers including Livia Quaresmini, co-founder and owner of sustainable fashion boutique Hello, Wonderful! as well as a professor at LdM Fashion Design school.

“The [co-]owner from Hello, Wonderful!, a small atelier, came in to talk about her shop that uses cast-off fabric (dead stock) from big name designers and from overproduction … She also discussed circular fashion and how she likes to design with a purpose, considering the end of life of the item.”—Leslie Abrams

Livia Quaresmini in her Florence atelier.

During World War II, Italy was cut off from much of the rest of the world and lacked its own resources. As a result Italian fashion designers’ creativity was put to the test. World-renowned shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo turned to unusual materials like raffia as a substitute for leather. The result was highly innovative designs that still look stylish today.

Our students toured the Ferragamo Museum in Florence, where a special exhibit on sustainable fashion is taking place. Student Mehnaz Khan had this to say about the experience:

“… the Ferragamo museum had an excellent exhibit on sustainability in the fashion industry. They presented several articles of clothing that were designed using innovative fabrication methods, such as a 3D-printed dress. Also showcased were highly engineered, sustainable fabrics, like leather made from fruit skin. Overall, it was great seeing a high-end design house not only acknowledging the environmental toll of its industry … but also actively doing something about it.”

What interesting sustainable fashion innovations have you heard about lately? Please share in the comments.