Italian Fashion Label Slowear Forges Ahead As A Leading Sustainable Brand
VMAN spoke with the label’s CEO Roberto Compagno on the brand’s eco-friendly efforts that began in 1950.
In honor of Earth Day, VMAN would like to celebrate the trailblazing efforts of fashion labels committed to reversing the industry’s wastefulness, and among the plethora of brands making strides towards more sustainable practices, Italian fashion house Slowear certainly claims prominence. Practicing an ethical consumption model since 1950, the forward-thinking label has long stood as an environmentally aware clothing line, before environmental awareness was even at the forefront of societal discussions, all the while managing to release a full collection for both men and women each season. With an ethical duty at the forefront of its business endeavors, Slowear leads as a golden example for fashion labels to follow, boosting the vital motto: “buy less, buy better, wear longer.”
“Ethical responsibility is our company’s responsibility,” says CEO Roberto Compagno. “For us, being ethical is a direction that we pursue every day, stemming from the smallest of decisions. That is why we put in a meticulous amount of care in the choice of our suppliers, who must follow our code of ethics, and who should be, in their own right, innovators and producers of fibers and materials that are the best their industry is able to offer today in terms of quality and sustainability.”
In its most recent collection, Slowear offers an extensive range of sharply-tailored and well-fitted menswear options, ranging from style-oriented options of quality sweaters and sleek jackets to formal offerings of upscale button-downs and complementary pants. Ahead of its time, Slowear has successfully discovered the balance between sustainable fabric sourcing and elevated style offering overs 70 years of experience. VMAN spoke with the Slowear’s CEO Roberto Comapgno regarding the label’s durable production concept, thoughtful design processes, and brand ethos in celebration of Earth Day.
Below, read what Roberto Compagno had to share.
VMAN How did you initially spark an interest in sustainable clothing?
Robert Compagno Our focus on a more durable concept of fashion started as an alternative to what was and still is being promoted by seasonality and trends, fast replacement factors for the collections stimulating fast consumption.
We wanted, as our brand name implies, to be an alternative to that pace of consumption. We felt it was time to change our behavior and lean on a slower way of appreciating the fashion product.
Our history is rooted in factory production (since 1951 we have been producing textiles), and we know the effort it takes to conceive, produce, distribute, and sell a collection. This whole system requires competence, time, know-how, and people; wouldn’t it be such a pity to make it last just a season? With this in mind, we have pushed our factories to produce the best products (in terms of fabric, quality and details), in order to be timeless and built to last, granting them a far longer cycle of life.
This approach has continued since we launched our retail concept in 2010, that today consists of an online platform (www.slowear.com) and 30 stores worldwide, including NYC, Milan, Paris, London, Tokyo, and Seoul.
VMAN How do you manage to craft full collections with a fabric variety, while also remaining ethically responsible?
RC For us, ethical responsibility is our company’s responsibility. Fashion has wastefulness that cannot be denied – from the resources needed to produce the fibers and the speed of the collections’ life cycles to the waste generated by an incorrect consumption model. So, suffice to say, every year in the United States, it seems there is a quantity of about 35 kg per capita of clothes that have never been worn and are then thrown away. Those are numbers that should make us think.
For us, being ethical is a direction that we pursue every day, stemming from the smallest of decisions. That is why we put in a meticulous amount of care in the choice of our suppliers, who must follow our code of ethics, and who should be, in their own right, innovators and producers of fibers and materials that are the best their industry is able to offer today in terms of quality and sustainability. Examples include Technogab, a technical fabric made from 50% recycled nylon, and Lyogab, a fabric based on Lyocell, the synthetic fiber which is produced from eucalyptus.
But, as I said, sustainability goes beyond that. Unfortunately, fashion is not without other sources of negativity, such as cases of labor exploitation or scenarios of a lack of protection in the working environment, as well as the environmental impact. Legality and respect for the rules – starting with the simplest yet essential rule of paying taxes, even if it is a basic concept – are fundamental factors to be an ethical company.
VMAN From the first sketch to the final piece, what does the design process look like?
RC The design process in our company is a real team effort. The creative and product teams are internal and work in total synergy. We do not have a creative director because, as we said, we are product-oriented and this guides every single design choice. Our variety of proposals is based on the following: research and experimenting with the best fibers are the first ingredients of the real creative process and of a long-lasting product.
VMAN As the brand’s visionary, how do you instill your personal touch on Slowear’s long-standing legacy of durable designs? How does your latest collection include the brand’s ethical consumption model?
RC Our company is a family business, with 70 years of history behind it, during which there have been generational changes that have grown the company with the same values, strength and determination. Growing and remaining a steady company, with concrete principles, is more important than any trend or circumstance. Yes, we are 70 years old, but we want to operate for at least another 150 years and our values are what will allow us to do so.
Basically, as a company, we tend to focus more on long term credibility, brand equity and longevity, rather than short terms results and easy paybacks. We strongly believe the latter is strictly interconnected with the first.
I am convinced, in fact, that the company’s longevity is a result of the consistency and alignment of our vision, philosophy and the people who come to work at the company every day. We have provided an alternative consumption model to our clients, based on the “buy less buy better.” Even when it wasn’t fashionable, it was an integral part of our company’s values. It is this consistency, I believe, that makes us respected, recognizable, and long-lasting.
Undoubtedly, we have also had good fortune and ability to bring together professionals, who are not only outstanding in their work but above all, capable of becoming an integral part of the company’s values and sharing them far and wide whilst contributing to the company’s well-being and growth.
VMAN With Earth Day here, how do you hope to be a role model for others in terms of integrating sustainability into their daily lives?
RC Our company motto describes it best, which I mentioned before, and represents a real revolution in the way consumers should buy today: buy less, buy better, wear longer.
It may seem contradictory to our obvious retail business goals, but if we have been pursuing the idea of a possible revolution in the sector since 2003, it is because we believe that such awareness can definitively represent a turnaround in the industry and open the doors to a more conscious business; one that cares about the founding values of humanity alongside profit. Being a family business has certainly helped us crafting this process.
VMAN As a leading, sustainable fashion label, what are your hope for the future of fashion in regard to moving towards more ethical practices?
RC A durable product allows for conscious consumption, which in turn triggers a real change in the environment and in people. We need to rethink the principles that underpin the work of most companies. The individualism and profit-centric vision that has prevailed in recent years has produced major systemic errors – such as compulsive shopping.
Especially in light of the recent health emergency, we must return to our responsibilities as companies, and above all, as consumers, since it is truly us, the consumers, who can ignite this change to good.
A different future starts from the desire, necessary now more than ever, to want to leave the world a little better off than how we found it. It may seem trivial but therein lies the key to change.
Head to Slowear’s website to learn more, and take a look at a few images from the forward label’s men’s collection, below.