MFW Briefing: In Milan, designers look toward a sustainable future

Designers pushed the sustainability discussion further at Milan Fashion Week.

Exhibiting in Milan over the weekend, Singaporean designer Lisa Von Tang incorporated new sustainability practices into every piece in her eponymous label’s collection. Italian textile mills recycled dead fabrics that would otherwise have ended up in landfills to make the dresses and gowns. Natural materials such as silk and hemp have also been considered without any chemical treatment. Von Tang even ensured that all of their suppliers and partners for this collection hold green certifications such as the Global Organic Textile Standard, the Global Recycle Standard and the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production program.

Similar themes and ideas played out on other shows.

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Italian brand Themoiré debuted a collection called Together by Themoiré/Chapter 02, in which all pieces are made from 100% raffia, a palm leaf sustainably sourced from Madagascar. The brand also worked with local artisans to weave the fibers and create the collection, and plans to give back a portion of sales to an orphanage in Madagascar.

“We engaged the Oxchuc community in Chiapas to create a collection of limited edition pieces,” said Francesca Monaco, co-founder of Themoiré. “The sales proceeds were reinvested in collaboration with the association Cantaro Azul to provide seven rural schools with drinking water. Chapter 02 of this project sees the Municipality of Antananarivo as the protagonist. The red soil of Madagascar and its great biodiversity convinced us with its rare beauty, but the conditions of extreme poverty of the population could not remain indifferent to us.”

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Sustainability was also celebrated at Ermengildo Zegna. The brand was honored with the Biodiversity Conservation Award at the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana’s annual Sustainable Fashion Awards, held in Milan on Sunday. Ermengildo Zegna and the Zegna family were honored for the Oasi Zegna, a 100 square kilometer nature reserve in northern Italy that has been cared for for over a century. The Zegna family has planted more than 500,000 trees in the area, reforesting the land and turning it into a free natural park.

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Italy is a key location for the sustainable efforts of the fashion industry. The country is home to major hubs for design, material sourcing, manufacturing and flagship events like Milan Fashion Week, all of which play a role in promoting sustainable practices in fashion.

The focus on sustainability as an investment in the future of fashion was also explored during the week. Menswear brand Plan C featured a short film in its collection, directed by Paolo Zerbini, that underscored this idea.

“I wanted our video [open] the viewer’s patience to make it come true like a dream,” said Zerbini. “But dreams are only real if we wake up with them.”