Sustainability at Pitti
Part One
Edition 102
Sustainability at Pitti is a two-part series that celebrates fashion’s climate-conscious innovators. At Pitti, we want to shine a spotlight on the brands that are truly putting responsible practices first and proving that prioritizing the planet doesn’t mean compromising design. Through this, we hope to inspire and lead a wave of change within our industry, helping us all to push for a better future together.

Below you’ll find five brands selected by Giorgia Cantarini for S|STYLE: Waste Yarn Project, Margn, Curious Grid, Mworks, and BENNU.

Waste Yarn Project

During factory visits back when Siri Johansen was Head of Knitwear for various luxury fashion houses, she would observe countless boxes teaming with leftover yarns. Each one was packed with different colors and material compositions but, for various reasons, would be left untouched, destined for the land-fill or incineration. The Waste Yarn Project was born from a desire to tackle such excess waste — in addition to making beautiful, unique knitwear pieces you’ll want to own forever.
What will you be exhibiting at Pitti this year? 

We’ll show our ONE&ONLY collection. It's our core collection, all designed using a wheel of fortune that gives the information to the knitter on how to make each piece unique. These are all made by hand in Shanghai. Then we’ll show new pieces that we’re developing in Europe using deadstock yarn from an Italian yarn mill [and] produced on an electronic knitting machine. Working on these machines is more challenging in terms of using deadstock yarn, so we have developed garments from simple shapes. We’ve also developed some hand-crochet accessories, made from deadstock Italian handknitting yarns. The idea is that these will also be available for people to download to make using their own leftover yarns.

How do you ensure a responsible production process? 

All our materials are from surplus stock. We do not dye anything, we only use what’s already available. This season we have started this to work with Filpucci yarn mill and use their deadstock (we actually met in Pitti Uomo this January). Regarding production, we hire the knitters and make sure they have good working conditions.
What change would you like to see in the fashion industry in regards to sustainability?

Every garment or product has a footprint. One big problem is that sustainability is not a regulated term, anyone can use it, and it has been so overused recently it's difficult to grasp its meaning. For me, this is a major issue and where we need to see some change. Is it even possible to be a sustainable fashion company?


Margn is on a mission to bring unconventional, everyday cultures to the fore. Living by the notion ‘Freedom in Discipline,’ founders Ranjit Yadav and Saurabh Maurya’s eco-conscious collections speak directly to their “humble and disciplined” childhood, which was spent in the small towns of rural India. Each piece carries a reference to the functional garments worn by farmers and the uniforms they themselves wore at school. Through this, they invite you to consider the various ways in which a wearer makes a uniform unique, question the concepts of masculinity and identity, and dissect predefined social norms. 
Can you talk us through your SS23 collection?

[Our] garments exemplify a sense of modernism through the lens of culture and craft, defining the traditional ideas which we grew up with. An oblong, Margn’s human symbol, is used to form symbolic patterns mimicking interconnectedness among humans. Hand-crafted traditional techniques like Sujani become functional outerwear, complemented by modern and bold knit patterns. Non-conforming silhouettes and layers are re-fashioned, bringing a touch of rebellion to staples. We’ve [also] continued to use upcycled parachutes and deadstock fabrics/yarns.

How do you ensure a responsible production process?  

We collaborate with smaller local communities of farmers for raw materials and artisans for our hand-knit garments. It’s a symbiotic relationship between us locals, learning from and uplifting each other. All our handknits are developed by an all-women team from Kullu, India. With this collection, we have continued our partnership with the all-women community residing in the northern Himalayas [who are] responsible for creating our signature pieces such as argyles and ikats. 
We’re conscious of our carbon footprint so we use less water and energy-intensive materials such as Kala cotton (which is a completely rainfed variety of cotton), organic and regenerated materials such as upcycled sack bags, parachutes, mats, deadstock yarns/fabrics among others. We try to keep our production as local as possible. 
How do you feel about the fashion industry’s current sustainability efforts?

The industry still suffers from overproduction and wastage of raw materials, while contributing to 10% of the global carbon emissions as of 2021.  Larger corporations are not held accountable for their actions, [whether that’s] the use of low-quality, non-biodegradable fabrics or exploiting labor. It's a vicious cycle between uninformed consumers choosing convenience over sustainability, and companies creating profitable businesses with high mark-ups.

Niccolò Chiuppesi founded Bennu in 2021 with one clear intention: to recover the past and protect the future. Thus, Bennu’s collections are made exclusively from unsold garments and excess fabrics, aiming to reduce pollution caused by overproduction and take a slower pace than the one which currently characterizes the fashion industry. Further, Bennu pledges a social commitment within its collections, partnering with specific suppliers and social organizations that help the brand develop in a way that benefits both people and the planet. 

What will you be exhibiting at Pitti this year? 

Bennu is exhibiting ORIGINE, a collection developed with Fondazione Archè’s Sartoria Sociale, a foundation that accompanies vulnerable children and families in building social, housing, and work autonomy by providing support and care services. ORIGINE celebrates a renewed bond between mankind and nature with a collection made by reinterpreting tailor-made garments and fabrics recovered from unsold stock. It is a spokesman for a change of pace in production and consumption and a new harmony in our relationship with the environment.

How do you feel about the fashion industry’s current sustainability efforts? 

I feel confident because people are getting more and more conscious of the environmental and social issues in the fashion industry. I’m not saying that it will be an easy and quick process, but the path is the right one, and [we] have to walk this path hand in hand. Also, brands have to position themselves as educators [and] set a responsible approach as the main pillar of their project. They have to create a new way of communication through their creation.
What change would you like to see? 

I would like to see a more dynamic dialogue between people and brands. Fashion brands have always been a reflection of social and historical change, they have been the spokesperson for many of the social battles of the past century. Now, this role will be transferred to the battle for the preservation of our planet. We also need to break the [tradition of measuring] economic and financial assets as the one-and-only way [to gauge] the health of a brand. In 2022, a brand cannot perform well if it is not balanced in its relationship with the environment and the people making the brand. The environmental and social assets need to become a milestone in the brand value measurement.
Curious Grid

Sheetal Shah’s Curious Grid is an androgynous label that explores cultural identities through craftsmanship. Inspired by workwear and sartorial stitching techniques, Shah plays with form, texture, and color to create collections that subtly reconstruct menswear norms and blend tradition with modernity. Her collections upcycle pre-used fabrics and are often created in partnership with artisans in India and Italy, meaning each line she develops is limited, unique, and carries its own individual narrative.
What will you be exhibiting at Pitti this year?

I will be exhibiting a unisex line called Break Free. It represents the freedom of classic suits into more fun and colorful functional workwear. This year my collection again uses the medium of sustainability and craftsmanship. We have worked with artisans in India to make handwoven fabrics, which are 100% cotton Khadi, a yarn used during the independence of India. We are also using sustainable indigo and natural dyes for denim, for which we work with artisans in Italy. All our production is done in Italy by a factory in Milan that helps us make our small capsule collections.

How do you feel about the fashion industry’s current sustainability efforts?

There is a lot of noise on sustainability and it has become a kind of trend. I am happy to see lots of new ways and processes that are coming and people making the effort to find various mediums through crafts, technology, and cultural awareness.
What change would you like to see?

I would be very happy if the young emergent is noticed and [receives] a sponsorship for their talent. They can get a boost to continue and work more towards their practice and get some new fresh views and ideas. Every brand and designer has a specific perspective and uniqueness to their brand. It would be nice to see more sustainable practices that can also be scalable from a business point of view.

Martin Liesnard and Marie Bernet are the M’s behind Mworks, which is more of a collective than a brand. The Parisian label describes itself as a “hub,” inviting creatives, manufacturers, artisans, and experts to unite and develop ideas and techniques together. With this hive mind, Mworks aims to create garments that are as environmentally and socially conscious and thought-provoking as they are beautiful.
What will you be exhibiting at Pitti this year? Can you talk us through your collection?

We started to think about the theme of the collection based on the motto: “Boys in shorts love flowers.” [The] slogan was written on a vintage t-shirt that Martin found at the flea market in Brussels. This sentence was very catchy, simple, and direct, exactly the tone that we wanted for this collection. We approached the floral theme from a florist's point of view — it’s a poetic and sensual approach mixed with the reality of a workshop's daily routine. [Thus] the collection is also influenced by workwear shapes and colors: grey, electric blue, off-white, color blocks) with a touch of sensitivity.
Each season, we partner with a workshop to promote their know-how and create collaborative clothing projects. For this season, we are working on a project that will be produced in Ukraine with the manufacturer Lener Cordier who is based in Hazebrouck (France) but also in Ukraine where they do their best to maintain their production since the beginning of the war. We will produce some of our clothes with them with the aim to participate in maintaining the local textile [industry].
What are the biggest obstacles you face in regards to producing responsible collections? What change would you like to see?

Prices. Everything is still expensive! The bigger companies and brands should work in a real way to democratize the process. Small companies and major ones should work together to share their best practice and think of tomorrow. We really believe that the fashion of tomorrow is a question of exchange between all the players in the industry and the retention of local workers and talent everywhere.

Do you have any advice for budding designers/brands hoping to create a positive impact?

Start small. Take your time. Don’t try to recreate the business models of successful brands. Don’t try to be 100% sustainable from the beginning, this is impossible. Be transparent with your customers and partners. Don’t see sustainability as a constraint but as a source of new processes and creative opportunities.

Visit the business pages of the featured brands on Pitti Connect: