Denim guru Maurizio Donadi founded Los Angeles-based Atelier & Repairs in 2015 as a hobby, and he still doesn’t think of it as a brand per se. “It was a way of doing things I had never done before,” he said. “The approach was very emotional; I found myself looking for stories that were more emotionally rich than building another pair of jeans.” Donadi said he begins sourcing by looking for quality “leftover,” whether it’s Army fatigues, jeans or cotton shirts. He then deconstructs and rebuilds them using artisanal Japanese stitching and other global handmaking techniques. “We are a creative solution to world excess,” he said. “We can turn potential trash into an item that has a new story.”
Biggest challenge: “There is no common denominator because everything we do is very slow and artisanal, so even our large productions are considered limited runs. We make just six or three of something sometimes. So the challenge is that there is a series of events that needs to happen when we start in production — cleaning, repairing, making embellishments. It doesn’t allow for a consistency in fit.”
Third-party plaudits: “We don’t have any, but I can tell you we aren’t here for the awards. I wouldn’t even say are ‘sustainable’ because that’s an impossible pursuit. We have to use water to wash these old garments but at the same time we are prolonging their life by 20 years so I think it’s worth it. We are responsible. We look for the opportunity to reduce the negative impact that our industry creates,” Donadi said.
Biggest achievement of 2018: “We measure our success in the number of tons of merchandise we are able to recondition, and our goal for 2018 was to recycle 6.5 tons of products and we did it. Last year, we did four tons. For next year, maybe eight or nine will be a great number.”
If you could wave a magic wand: “I wish I had one! I wish that companies ran in general would become more aware of the negative impact of the industry. Fashion is wonderful because it’s about style and creativity. But there is a severe challenge to the planet and even more to the people. We are not doing a good job in preserving the human race. I would love for everyone to read and get informed and really understand that for every action there is also some negativity involved.”