FOSSOMBRONE, Italy — “There is no Planet B.”
Starting from this assumption, Dondup president Matteo Marzotto believes it is “a social duty” to take steps in order to reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. “I have been troubled for many years about this issue,” confessed Marzotto during a visit to the Dondup headquarters in Fossombrone, a small town nestled in the Marche region, in central Italy. “I have realized that awareness makes us all more active in making important choices.”
The young entrepreneur is taking action and Dondup has partnered with the well-respected and innovative Italian Candiani mill to create the D/Zero denim fabric, which employs 50 percent less water and 70 percent less chemicals compared with Candiani’s denim, which is already considered innovative in terms of sustainability.
With a background in textile as one of the heirs of the Marzotto business, and a former Valentino chairman as well as a former investor in Vionnet, he is well aware of the impact of the fashion industry on the environment, and ticked off several innovations brought forward as far back as the Seventies by the Marzotto family to dispose of waste water, for example. However, technology today is so advanced that it allows to take major leaps forward, he contended.
Marzotto was flanked by chief operating officer Matteo Anchisi and head of the Dondup in-house creative studio Federico “Chicco” Barina, founder of the style and design office specializing in the development of denim collections Black Studio. Barina said he had been collaborating with Candiani for 15 years, praising Alberto Candiani, the fourth-generation executive leading the family’s storied mill, for his “intuition in taking on sustainability in a scientific way.” Candiani, based in the Ticino Park outside Milan, is renowned for its pioneering technology and research aimed at reducing water, energy and chemical consumption.“ The project emphasizes the ‘Made in Italy’ component,” said Anchisi. “The two companies share the same mind-set, certifying washes according to scientific parameters and endorsing traceability.”
Marzotto said the fact that Dondup relies on a supply chain that is physically close was an added value also in terms of sustainability.
The D/Zero jeans, retailing at between 180 euros and 230 euros, in line with the other brand designs, will be available in stores starting in February. There will be six washes on a men’s model, the George, and six washes on the women’s model, the Monroe. These are two staple Dondup designs and Barina underscored how the intent is to highlight the concept of “same but different,” offering the best-selling models in a sustainable fabric. “The aesthetics are the same, but D/Zero has the added value of sustainability.”
“The technological primacy can become an integrating part of a company to improve sustainable processes and for a good, quality product and not for opportunistic or marketing reasons,” said Marzotto, who joined Dondup in 2016. “We need to talk about this technology” to promote change, he explained. Values measured on D/Zero end products after the certified treatment and washing process show a 75 percent reduction in water consumption and a 20 percent reduction in chemicals used for the washes, on average, as well as a 58 percent reduction of energy consumption. This is on top of Candiani’s comparative models showing conventional denim fabric versus the trademarked SavetheWater-Kitotex procedure and sustainable dyeing technology Indigo Juice. These processes allow Candiani to reduce water used to produce the fabric by 50 percent and to reduce chemicals by approximately 70 percent. “D/Zero is a real alternative aimed at raising consumer awareness.”
Denim is a core business for Dondup, accounting today for 40 percent of sales. Revenues at parent company Arcadia Srl totaled sales of 56.5 million euros last year.
Founded by Manuela Mariotti and Massimo Berloni, who have exited the brand, Dondup is controlled by L Catterton. Marzotto has been revising distribution, spearheading a product expansion, bringing the brand’s children’s line in-house, and boosting communication.
The entrepreneur is an avid sportsman and admitted his passion for fast cars and flying his helicopter, but he arrived at the company driving his Prius Hybrid. “It’s a sign of the times,” he said. “We have to change our lifestyle, it’s not an option, it’s a must. I’m happy because D/Zero is revolutionary and I see it as an opportunity to do something about the impact on the environment.”