Skip to main content

Denim Head: Paolo Gnutti Vouches for a Green Passport to Certify Sustainability Claims

Denim Head is Rivet’s discussion series with voices in the industry to get their take on the innovations, brands and designers shaping the future of denim. 

Paolo Gnutti is the founder and “denim wizard” of the Italian fabric developer PG Denim. He is also the designer behind the Isko Luxury by PG collection of elevated fabrics that span flocked denim to denim spun with silver threads. 

Though Gnutti is known for his runway-worthy concepts, responsible production is top mind. Here, Gnutti discusses what the industry must do to ensure true sustainability and transparency.  

Rivet: What has been the biggest contribution to sustainable denim? 

Paolo Gnutti: Certainly, the realization by the denim industry that the market has reached levels of saturation it has never seen. Overproduction has led the entire supply chain to now have to face how to solve the problem of unused garments that have been dumped or buried in the producing countries. 

Rivet: What is the most inspiring technology or collection that you’ve seen recently?  

Related Story

PG: CTRL+Z, a new technology Isko developed that uses recycled materials to avoid disposing waste in landfills. The manufacturing process conserves resources and uses a safe chemical process. This new technology is made entirely from recycled cotton and polyester fibers with regenerated cellulose. The recycled cotton comes from textiles that are discarded in the yarn, fabric and apparel production process.

Rivet: What lessons has the pandemic taught the industry? 

PG: The pandemic has accelerated in all of us the realization that not being able to travel, no longer being able to physically control production sites located in various parts of the world, not being able to physically show samples to customers and, finally, the significant loss of sales turnover, required us to look for an alternative vehicle. Technology has provided us with a solution through the metaverse and virtual showrooms. Virtual samples have become a fundamental tool to be able to continue business without having to physically move. It is also true that our world is made up of sensory perceptions so being able to physically touch a fabric or a product will always remain something irreplaceable in the fashion world despite the giant steps that the virtual world has developed.

Rivet: Which brand or designer in the market do you think is making the most impact?

PG: In terms of design, I have to say that a brand like Diesel has had a remarkable change in its approach to denim on the market. It is moving a classic product like denim into the world of luxury, and I consider it a winning decision.

Rivet: What is your personal philosophy on shopping and caring for your denim?  

PG: Here we touch a sore point. I am a bad customer for brands because I usually only use clothes from my own collections. I am my own first customer, I try on most of my products myself to understand the performance characteristics and the pleasure of wearing them. If I am satisfied, they become part of the collection, otherwise I don’t present them on the market.

Rivet: Which part of denim manufacturing needs more innovation, and why?  

PG: Industrial processes have brought amazing innovation to denim production—from spinning mills to yarn dyeing mills to looms that recover selvedge waste and finishing plants that use fewer chemicals to laundries that have done so much (but can still do so much) to reduce the use of chemicals, CO2 emissions and H2O consumption. 

There is not really one production process that has a greater need than another to innovate; the difference can only be made by the brands and the final consumer in the choice of the products they buy. Hence the need to have certified products that allow total traceability in the supply chain—a sort of passport that shares the entire production cycle step by step. The tools to do this are there, companies need to choose the right partners, ones who do not just sell a price but a certified product with the entire supply chain described. That way we can buy certified quality.

Rivet: Describe the jean of the future. 

PG: I see the jeans of the future same as the jeans of the past: rich, capable of giving an emotion to the customers, a garment that will last over time. It should also be a garment that can recollect the entire production chain so that the end customer is aware of what they are buying regardless of the brand or the price. 

The jeans of the future will be transparent. The jeans will tell the consumer where it was born, how it grew, and that has not created any disruption to our ecosystem because it was made with respect for the environment. A tag saying ‘I’m green’ is not and will not be enough, but a passport certified and controlled by a certification entity will be the only certainty that that garment is green.