By Sheryl Tan

This is what zero-waste in fashion means

A lot of textile waste is generated by the fashion industry and the improper disposal of that waste is harming our planet. We got in touch with an Italian designer, Camilla Carrara, who utilizes zero-waste design techniques to combat leftover waste from fashion production.

You have rarely heard of zero-waste in fashion. What does it mean? What are the positive impacts? Sustainable fashion is synonymous with buying second-hand, re-wearing pieces in our capsule wardrobe, and being more mindful about how our clothes are made. And zero-waste fashion production is the answer to the dire consequences of traditional production that is polluting our Earth. Zero-waste fashion is about utilizing existing materials to their full capacity and not producing textile or other material waste. 

Did you know that 15% of textiles go wasted in the fashion production process?

We interviewed Camilla Carrara, a zero-waste designer, about how she is advocating for an environmentally responsible production process with her own brand, ZEROBARRACENTO. From what she looks for when shopping sustainably for her own closet, to what the fashion industry can do to reduce its environmental impact, discover what zero-waste fashion in 2020 means to this designer who is shaping the industry from within.

Why did you decide to embrace a zero-waste technique in your designs? 

When I was studying Fashion Design at Politecnico di Milano, I was visiting several textile companies and I discovered the huge quantities of waste that were produced annually. The fact that such a substantial amount of leftovers were produced by premium companies made me think that I wanted to optimize the textile and fashion supply chains. Ambitious, no? The challenge inherent in the design strategy is to bring together the luxury fit, feel, and aesthetic, within the constraints of zero-waste. Working with zero-waste requires time and a commitment to on-going research. 

The outcome of the design ideas is based on continual experiments on both paper and mannequin.

What are the best ways the fashion industry can employ to reduce its environmental impacts? 

I think that, instead of inventing new solutions, the fashion industry must rethink and redesign all the already established processes. And that’s why, as a designer, my research is addressed to this goal: optimizing the way we do fashion.

What can consumers themselves do? 

Ask brands about their sustainable efforts. Consumers have the power to influence with their choices. They are not only buying items but they are deciding which values they want to incorporate into their lifestyle.

Was it challenging to introduce zero-waste fashion into your existing closet? 

For now, there are not so many brands adopting the zero-waste pattern making technique as it is challenging to scale it to an industrial level. Other sustainable fashion strategies such as upcycling owned piece, purchasing from companies who sustainably source their materials, and buying second hand are more common and attainable for conscious consumers.

What do you look for when you shop sustainably? 

Design and quality at first, and then, it is fundamental for me to understand if what is declared as sustainable is truly sustainable. But I can understand that, for a conventional consumer, this could be extremely challenging as brands still need to develop an appropriate and trustable communication around responsibility.

What can fashion designers and labels do to make zero-waste fashion easier for their consumers to adhere to?

Be transparent and improve their communication skills, and I think also creating synergies is fundamental. At ZEROBARRACENTO, we are proud to collaborate with realities such as Renoon, Cikis, and to adhere to the “WearMe30Times” campaign as these are all ways to prove our commitment to final consumers.

Tell us about ZEROBARRACENTO’s values as a sustainable fashion brand.

The core goal of ZEROBARRACENTO is to develop a complete zero-waste production chain; starting from sustainable textile production waste, through the development of textiles, and resulting in a small outerwear collection of zero-waste pieces. Our collections are clean, essential, and Italian. We have developed full-traceability in our sustainable production chain. Our mindful manufacturing means choosing factories that are near the raw materials and suppliers that hold the most expertise in working with sustainable materials.

What does it stand for?

0 and 100 are our statements. It means 0% of waste as well 0% of gender. We promote a brand that aims to be 100% sustainable in factual terms. This means being 100% factual, 100% clean, 100% inclusive.

Where do you draw inspiration for your designs from? 

The inspiration.

The goal of ZEROBARRACENTO is to achieve the perfect fit often sought by luxury consumers, without compromising on sustainable practices. The idea was the creation of a cocoon-like feel through the use of large volume, soft materials, and enveloping closure systems. The collection silhouettes are directly inspired by the art of Burri, Giacometti, and Brancusi. In addition to this, inspiration was taken from contemporary trends. The project looked to Max Mara, and other ‘big masters’ of fashion such as Balenciaga, McCardell, and Thayath. The patterns are built from a foundation of geometric shapes that envelope the body in volume when worn. Each detail and material is chosen specifically to create durable and long-lasting garments. Within the context of this brand, the design does not only mean the creation of attractive garments; it refers to the overall design of the project. Each step in the process has been developed with mindfulness of the larger project picture. Designing outerwear means thinking about the full life-cycle of a product.  

What are the advantages of zero-waste in fashion? 

Zero-waste must be a 360° choice; it should be a commitment in our daily lives as it could allow us all to truly reduce our impact. As a creative person, I think it is both a challenge and an opportunity to experiment with new ways to design.

What is the future of sustainable fashion?

I truly hope sustainable fashion will become the new normal in a few years. Fingers crossed.

ZEROBARRACENTO is an Italian fashion label built on a commitment to ethical practices, a transparent supply chain, and zero-waste techniques. Discover more here.

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