If there are any doubts about sustainable fashion’s place in the designer market, just look at the trajectory of upcycled brand Blue Of A Kind.
The “Remade in Italy” denim label founded by Fabrizio Consoli in 2014 recently opened its first store just steps away from the flagships of Dsquared2, Just Cavalli, Maison Margiela and Moschino in Milan’s Porta Nuova shopping district.
There, consumers can experience firsthand Blue Of A Kind’s unique approach to local and circular jeans manufacturing and see complementary products like sweatshirts. Each item is made from pre-existing garments as well as excess fabrics and hardware sourced from Milanese mill Candiani Denim. No additional dyes, chemicals or water are used in the production; therefore, the color is exclusively the result of the wear of the original garment. Additionally, all production takes place within a 30-mile radius from Blue Of A Kind’s headquarters in the center of Milan.
While the brand relied on e-commerce during the pandemic, Consoli said the unique qualities of Blue Of A Kind’s garments—from one-of-a-kind washes and fades, to constructions—are best appreciated in real life. “The digital world has become a crowded space, especially after the pandemic,” he told Rivet. “On top of this, our products come with a narrative attached which is best told in person.”
The 800-square-foot space, which previously housed a Christian Louboutin boutique, reflects the brand’s sustainable ethos by almost exclusively using existing elements, such as lighting, shelves, and mirrors, and adding some repurposed elements. To create a clear distinction from the surrounding shops, the store’s windows are completely covered except for two holes where shoppers can see a single garment or peak into the store. Inside, the store’s white walls feature handwritten words and phrases relevant to the brand, such as “these jeans are made of garbage” and “kind people are my kind of people.”
And just as Blue Of A Kind’s garments build on an existing garment, Consoli said the brand took steps to maintain hints of its red-sole predecessor. “We have also applied our logo over the ‘shadow’ where the previous Louboutin logo was,” he said.
Consoli recognizes the risk that comes with opening a traditional store, particularly when Italy’s e-commerce market has grown at a double-digit rate since 2017. “A branded store is always a long shot [but] we felt we were ready to take our chances,” he said.
Though fashion retail has been “wounded by [the] last two years of uncertainty,” Consoli added that business is picking up in Milan as locals and tourists are eager to experience some level of normalcy. The store is also a crucial step toward better understanding the sustainable shopper—especially as consumers come out of the pandemic more knowledgeable about the impact of their purchases.
The store, Consoli noted, offers a way to “learn firsthand what people like, appreciate and expect from our brand.”