Officina+39 managing director Andrea Venier is rethinking the way brands use textile waste.
Coming from a long line of textile professionals, Officina+39 managing director Andrea Venier grew up in Biella, one of Italy’s most famous fashion hubs. He studied chemical textiles before joining the family business and ultimately starting his own company, Officina+39, in 2007.
The chemical company is the product of an entirely new focus: technology. Through Officina+39, Venier and his team have worked to develop new processes to dye denim and other fabrics in a way that’s less taxing on the environment. One of its biggest breakthroughs so far, Recyrom, arrived in 2016. The patented technology uses 100 percent recycled materials to create long-lasting colors with an on-trend washed-out look.
Why are you drawn to the business of denim?
Denim will never go out of fashion. But a big change is coming, and personally, I like the challenge that presents in the denim industry. For a chemical company like us, this means huge R&D opportunities to replace old practices with better and greener investments. At Officina+39, we like the idea that we can continue to contribute to the aesthetics, and therefore the legend of denim, in increasingly sustainable ways.
What challenges lie ahead for the denim sector?
More than ever, consumers are mindful and informed about sustainability. We can all see a changing perspective on value. The big challenge for the denim sector is to renovate the fashion industry into a transparent, responsible and sustainable system that celebrates the stories, the people and the resources behind each pair of jeans. For this reason, we created our “Trustainable” program, which offers workshops to denim professionals—hands-on experiences with better chemistry and dyestuffs.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
The best piece of advice actually came indirectly from my grandfathers long ago— they were both in the textile industry. As the creative director of a major fashion house, my maternal grandfather taught me the true meaning of creating beauty. My paternal grandfather was a tailor. He taught me about quality and patience. I can remember tailoring a complete suit from scratch: measuring, cutting the pattern out from paper, using the best wool, doing the refitting. The whole process took about three weeks. It showed me the value of quality, being serious and having respect for where you are living. I learned that good things take time.
What can other industries learn from the denim sector?
The denim sector is considered one of the most polluting industries. I think manufacturers and chemical companies are taking the lead in innovation, and demonstrate a lot of courage both from the technological side, as well from a transparency point of view. We’re at the beginning of this journey, a lot more must be done in the future, but what’s been happening over the last five years really is encouraging.
What’s exciting you about denim in 2019?
That’s simple: The replacement of potassium permanganate. In 2019, we’re seeing that brands are seriously starting to adopt new technologies to replace the chemical for the first time. It’s really a fundamental step forward, from talking to doing. Many brands still have to follow, and I really hope that in 2020 we will see an important acceleration in the use of the new technologies already developed, in order to obtain a greener denim sector.