For the Milan-based sustainable textile hub C.L.A.S.S., the circular economy has always been the core of its existence, and even before the term became popular.
Marking the 10th anniversary of C.L.A.S.S., which specializes in integrating a new generation of eco values into fashion and lifestyle brands, the group staged a “An Evening of Smart Innovation.” The date of the event, March 22, was also a deliberate choice as it was International Water Day, serving as a way to advocate for sustainable water management, a key issue in textile manufacturing, Giusy Bettoni, founder of C.L.A.S.S. (Creativity Lifestyle and Sustainable Synergy), said.
For C.L.A.S.S., that means working with its partner mills such as Ecotec by Marchi&Fildi, Bemberg, Roica by Asahi Kasei and Tintex Textiles, which use technological breakthroughs to offer fashion materials that provide significant reductions in water during the manufacturing process.
“In touting significant reductions in water, energy usage and CO2 emissions, C.L.A.S.S.’s message has always been one of consistency, but now with today’s customers becoming increasingly environmentally mindful, the timing has never been better to bring awareness to the ways that responsible sustainability can be incorporated into a fashion or lifestyle brand,” Bettoni said.
Bettoni said what she’s seen in the last 10 years is that sustainable practices have merged into the overall circularity movement, and has moved “from vocabulary to real practice.”
A recent report, “Keeping Customer Connections” from PA Consulting Group, supported that thought, noting that circularity in fashion can positively impact the bottom line impact when executed strategically. The report said the potential material cost savings globally could reach as much as $700 billion for companies that embrace circular business models.
At the event, C.L.A.S.S.’s Camilla Carrara presented a swatch book array of smart materials, such as Ecotec by Marchi&Fildi’s collection made from already dyed, pre-consumer cotton clippings that come in 70 colors. Cararra noted that Ecotec yarns have been certified to use 77.9% less water, 56.3% less CO2 emissions and 56.6% less energy compared to conventional and organic cotton thanks to the manufacturing process.
Cupro fiber from Bemberg by Asahi Kasei is a new generation material made from the transformation of cotton linter bio-utility waste, converted through a traceable and transparent closed loop process. Re.VerSo production is based on wool and cashmere pre-consumer clippings, supplied by a collaboration of five premium textile Italian producers–Green Line and Nuova Fratelli Boretti for the raw material, A. Stelloni Collection By Mapel for fashion textiles, Filpucci for luxury knitwear yarns and Filatura C4 for contract and woven yarns.
Roica by Asahi Kasei a sustainable elastane fiber that used 50 percent pre-consumer materials. Roica uses Global Recycling Standard certified yarn and has achieved a Gold Level Material Health Certificate from the Cradle-to-Cradle Product Innovation Institute and the Hohenstein Environment Compatibility Certificate.
Ricardo Silva, head of operations at Portugal’s Tintex Textiles, which uses sustainable materials including Tencel, organic cotton and BCI Cotton, and recycled materials in its Naturally Advanced fabric collection, said “being part of C.L.A.S.S. since 2016 has helped us reach new customers. It’s also important to be part of a group that is trying to help the environment and create more sustainable materials.”
In that context, C.L.A.S.S. launched e-commerce on its revamped website, classecohub.org, which Carrara explained is meant for small designers and students to purchase materials, with 50-meter maximums.
The fabric area was the end of an actual circle formed for the event at Gary’s Loft, a penthouse on West 36th Street, which was turned into a visual and immersive experience that was literally in the round. The fabric zone featured hanging displays, oversized swatch books and table-top “touch and feel” presentations.
The multisensory presentation included film, food, a “magic forest” fabric art installation and the tactile array of recycled and upcycled fabrics. Visitors were greeted by film created by Italian artist and director Cristina Picci that used abstract images and sounds to show the harmony between the various phases of the textile process, organizers explained.
Next along the circular trail was a textile installation by Swiss knitwear designer Cecile Feilchenfeltd, who created a “magic forest” where tree-like hanging sculptures in conical and swirling shapes using smart fabrics and materials from C.L.A.S.S.
The next area in the circular journey was a selection of edibles like dried-fruit kebabs, veggie and fruit chips, Fair Trade chocolates, drinks with root and seed infusions, and lots of apples in many forms.
“In 10 years we’ve gone from words to innovation to materials that are truly sustainable and now fit into the circular economy that has quickly evolving from a concept to a movement,” Bettoni added. “That’s what we tried to show here tonight. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring.”