For Italian designer Tiziano Guardini, sustainability is a personal matter. “I’m a vegetarian and I really have this almost primordial need to go back to living in harmony with nature, to respect it,” he said. After graduating in economics, Guardini decided to join the KOEFIA fashion academy in Rome where he followed a master’s degree in product management. He then started to collaborate with local ateliers, but taking part in AltaRoma’s Limited/Unlimited project in 2012 was the real turning point in his career. “It’s an initiative promoting free creativity without any commercial purpose and it was such a good opportunity for me because for the first time I looked into myself and told a story [close to my heart],” Guardini recalled.
In sync with that edition’s “Sculptural” theme, Guardini presented statement garments including coats made of pine needles and sculptural dresses crafted from licorice roots. After the project, he decided to develop his sustainable approach in more contemporary pieces, as he made it his mission to have “everybody dressing in a sustainable way in the future.” He gradually started to research more common eco-friendly materials to introduce in his offering, beginning with cruelty-free silk.
“The ultimate mission is to create products respecting nature as much as possible but that are also appealing. We’re used to considering sustainable fashion as something privative, as if you absolutely need to remove the ‘cool factor’ in order to make sustainable clothing. But I’m a creative person and I want the pieces I design to be also beautiful and speak of my creativity,” he said, underscoring that respecting the environment doesn’t limit but instead stimulates his creative process and encourages him to push the boundaries to find innovative solutions.
Case in point, the dress he created for the first edition of the CNMI Green Carpet Talent Competition, launched by Italy’s fashion chamber and Livia Firth’s Eco-Age in 2017. Crafted from organic silk and recycled nylon, Guardini’s winning dress featured an octopus motif that was hand-embroidered with “sequins” created using upcycled seashells and discarded CDs collected in Italy.
Winning the contest enabled Guardini to present his fall 2018 collection during Milan Fashion Week in February while in September he made his catwalk debut. For spring 2019, Guardini showed a colorful collection celebrating nature that included polo shirts made with a yarn made derived from castor oil, parkas and Windbreakers in a regenerated nylon, fringed sweaters and hooded sweatshirts made of certified organic cotton and sustainable denim vest and pants. The brand is stocked at Biffi and Banner stores in Milan, Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong and on Yoox, among other retailers.
Key sustainability achievement of 2018: “The introduction of the Econyl nylon obtained by recycled plastics and the Evo by Fulgar bio-based yarn made of castor oil in our garments.”
Sustainability target for 2019 and why: “I haven’t thought of a target in terms of sustainability yet. In general, my goal is to spread this message as much as possible and reach as many people as possible with my clothes.”
Green Awards: Guardini won the Franca Sozzani GCC Award for best emerging designer as well as the PETA Couture Award in 2017.
Biggest challenge to overcome: “Researching materials and innovative solutions is the most demanding part. Also maintaining this philosophy throughout all the steps in designing and tailoring is trickier considering this is a new, small brand.”
If you could wave a magic wand: “I would like to see all fashion brands become sustainable. We’re all linked in this world, if we all could live a little bit better and breathe a cleaner air, we would be all winners.”