Ken Etro

MILAN — Twenty years before environmental sustainability became a subject seriously taken into consideration by the international fashion system, Kean Etro in 2001 started talking about being green and responsible through his collections and creative shows.

For example, in 2001, he brought the men’s fashion crowd to an Esselunga supermarket in Milan where he presented his S-upper Market dello stile fall 2001 Etro men’s collection including biological fabrics with a reduced environmental impact. Among others activities, he also took part to the “Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715-2015” exhibition at the LACMA in 2015, where he presented a selection of pieces where fur was printed on fabrics highlighting the importance of eliminating animals from the fashion production chain.

A strenuous supporter of locally sourced products and of the cradle-to-cradle circular economy upcycling process, Etro continues to support the environmental cause by including eco-friendly items in his lineups.

“Even if I consider our whole production sustainable since we manufacture everything in Italy, the percentage of items included in the men’s collections, which are made with alternative, certified sustainable materials is about 5 percent,” said Etro, who in 2001 started identifying these pieces with the Benetroessere label. “Currently, the quantities, which can be produced with the special materials we source, are still limited, but I’m happy that we are finally starting to sell these pieces and that retailers are more and more interested in these productions.”

Etro #ForTheOceans down jacket

Etro #ForTheOceans down jacket.  Courtesy photo

For his Benetroessere items, Etro developed special labels and hangers all crafted from recycled materials, including paper produced with seaweed.

Among the materials crafted for the garments, he recently used an Albini fabric made of eucalyptus, a Candiani cold-dyed biologic denim and a Cariaggi cashmere yarn dyed with woad, weld, smoke tree, logwood and madder.

Etro said he is extremely fascinated by the world of recycling and to celebrate World Ocean Day on June 8, he created a special down jacket crafted from the New Life Yarn, a made in Italy polyester thread obtained from recycled plastic bottles.

About 120 plastic bottles were recycled to create each limited-edition down jacket, including lining and padding. Through the use of the New Life Yarn, Etro managed to have a 32 percent reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide and to reduce the use of water and electric power of 94 and 60 percent, respectively.

Etro #ForTheOceans down jacket

Etro #ForTheOceans down jacket.  Courtesy photo

The checkered down jacket, which features a digital image of a plastic bottle into the ocean on the lining, will be available from July at the brand’s stores around the world.

“Sixty-three percent of the garments [that] are purchased in the world are made with oil derivatives, 26 percent are made of cotton, which has a huge, dramatic water footprint and 1 percent is made of wool,” Etro said. “What’s the challenge? Bringing wool to 2 percent by doubling livestocks? I think that the real answer is recycling and reusing the rubbish we produce.”