By Sandra Salibian
with contributions from Martino Carrera
 on February 26, 2021
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MILAN — Sustainability: everybody wants it, everybody talks about it, but not everybody is ready to commit to it.

As customers’ demand for transparency and awareness pertaining to social and environmentally friendly practices is ever increasing and impacting their shopping behavior, companies are revisiting their creativity and improving their manufacturing processes in a greener direction.

This effort was particularly visible for accessories brands presenting their collections during Milan Fashion Week, which highlighted how the sustainable cause is becoming a priority for both big names and emerging labels.

While established brands may have the expertise and budgets to front this shift in the approach to the business, revisiting and adjusting the creative mind-set and production accordingly requires a journey. One that Hogan was ready to take.

With its fall 2021 lineup bowing under the Hogan-3R moniker, the brand introduced a new sneaker style for men and women, which is crafted from regenerated leather combined with recycled plastic elements, such as the signature H logo in contrasting, bold colors appearing on the side of the shoes, its lightweight sole made of industrial waste.

“An important socio-cultural shift is happening and, together with the new generations — ever so informed and engaged — we must share not only our values but also our actions,” noted Andrea Della Valle, Hogan’s president and vice president of the brand’s parent Tod’s Group. “We have to be cognizant that every little step we take today will be the foundation of a better future,” he added.

Incidentally, to match the footwear range, the brand also presented ready-to-wear crafted from eco-friendly materials such as hooded trenchcoats made from recycled wool and down jackets in a blend of nylon and bio-based polyester.

A sneaker from the Hogan fall 2021 collection.

A sneaker from the Hogan fall 2021 collection.  Courtesy of Hogan

Known for its breathable technology, Geox continued to invest in sustainability by expanding its Spherica range of sneakers styles, featuring a bubble-like outsole for extra cushioning. For fall, the brand introduced a new iteration crafted from suede and the regenerated Econyl nylon. Also in this case, the brand extended the same attention to the environment to outerwear, with a range of puffer jackets made of recycled nylon and filled with real down repurposed from old duvets.

To start on the right foot and put sustainability at the core of one’s brand identity at the onset is an increasing priority for some emerging labels. These are becoming credible alternatives to established brands, especially for Millennials and Gen Z customers on the hunt for niche names with values in sync with their own.

To wit, Milanese vegan sneaker brand Yatay seized Milan Fashion Week’s visibility to release its manifesto in a fun digital project.

Directed by Marco Sbarra, the video cleverly narrated the philosophy and production process of the sustainable brand via ironic, pastel-toned imagery and a voiceover nodding to the American commercials of the ’60s.

“Times change, as do needs, both from a creative and branding point of view. This is why [we’re] changing gears with a new voice, toward a much more fun and disruptive conversation,” said Yatay’s chief executive officer Umberto De Marco, adding that the project was aimed at revealing “a whole new perspective of who we are, what we do and how we do it.”

On the product front, the video spotlighted the brand’s two main Irori and Neven styles rendered in different color combinations. These are made of materials including recycled plastic and bio-plastic derived from cereals and corn to craft the upper part; recycled wood and tires for the lining and insoles; natural resins and water-based and solvent-less glues, while hemp is used for the shoelace.

In its digital showcase, Themoirè visually represented the connection between humans and nature, with talents portrayed hugging each other as well as trees. The Milan-based bag label, which for fall introduced the Thetis sachet bag and the Dioni baguette option, deploys materials such as recycled nylon thread and regenerated or vegan leathers. While last season a fabric made of apple waste was used in the creative process, this time the brand introduced an eco-leather derived from Nopal cactus.

The Thetis bag by Themoirè.

The Thetis bag by Themoirè.  Courtesy of Themoirè

Iindaco’s founders Pamela Costantini and Domitilla Rapisardi opted for a more immediate approach in their video, which was focused on their polished footwear styles. In particular, the brand sources excess fabrics and leather leftovers throughout Italy’s warehouses, reusing scrap materials as well as recycled and recyclable ABS resin heels, regenerated leather insoles and certified linings in biodegradable leather. For fall, these elements resulted in a pretty range filled with architectural shapes and practical midi-heeled options crafted in charming moiré silk as well as calfskin with rhinestones.

The Circe D'Orsay style by Iindaco.

The Circe D’Orsay style by Iindaco.  Courtesy of Iindaco

In exploring different materials for her Flapper headwear brand, Genevieve Xhaet introduced waterproof styles realized in Econyl regenerated nylon. These comprised versatile solutions that can be customized with snap buttons, including the Dandy excursion hat as well as the Jole and Filippa baseball caps, which came with an applicable bow and a removable cape, respectively.

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