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My Interview with Ksenia Schnaider, Coolest Ukrainian Pioneer of Sustainable Denim

Ksenia, what kind of reflections did you do in this forced vacation time of quarantine? Did it inspire you for some special project?

Ksenia Schnaider: As everyone in the industry I was forced to think about the importance of the digital and B2C sales. We are spending all the time on the lockdown restructuring the workflow in our company. And it was a ‘Quarantine’ in denim challenge! We were also focusing on Donation project for the recycling of the gloves and masks.

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Ксения, на какие мысли тебя натолкнул карантин? Это вдохновило тебя на какой-то особый проект?

Ксения Шнайдер: Как и все в модной отрасли, я была вынуждена задуматься о важности продаж B2C и в онлайне. Сегодня мы тратим все время на реструктуризацию рабочего процесса в нашей компании. И это был челлендж под названием «Карантин в дениме»! Мы также сосредоточились на проекте по пожертвованиям на утилизацию использованных перчаток и масок.

Why sustainability is so important for  Ksenia Schneider?

It just is. Sustainability is not something we went for straight away, it all started with the first pair of demi-denims which we had to make from second-hand jeans. We loved the look and the idea of repurposing discarded items. And just like that sustainability became a part of our identity. In other words, we value efficiency and there are no better tools than good design and sustainability to be efficient.

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Почему экологичность так важна для твоего бренда?

Сустейнабилити – это не то, к чему мы стремились с самого начала, а все закрутилось с первой пары джинсов, которые мы сделали из старых джинсов. Нам понравился внешний вид и идея переработки ненужных вещей. Так, экологичный подход стал частью нашей идентичности. Другими словами, мы ценим эффективность, и нет более эффективного медиума, чем хороший дизайн.

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What is essential for your sustainable aproach?

First of all, the main technology we use is the recycling and up-cycling of the materials. We create digital showrooms and online shows to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry. We create campaigns to support sustainability, for example we started a challenge which encourage people to clean our city from the garbage. I regularly participate in conferences on responsible consumption and sustainable approaches. In our office we recycle garbage, we use the reusable tableware (in particular, each employee has their own bottle for water, so employees do not buy water in plastic bottles. We also select modern energy-efficient equipment. 

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Какой эко-стратегии ты придерживаешься?

Прежде всего, основная технология, которую мы используем, – это переработка и повторное использование материалов. Мы создаем цифровые шоурумы и онлайн-показы, чтобы уменьшить влияние индустрии моды на окружающую среду. Мы создаем социальные кампании для поддержки экологии, например, мы запустили проект, который побуждает людей убирать наш город от мусора.
Я регулярно участвую в конференциях по ответственному потреблению и устойчивому развитию. В нашем офисе мы перерабатываем мусор, используем многоразовую посуду (в частности, у каждого сотрудника есть своя бутылка для воды, поэтому они не покупают воду в пластике. Мы также выбираем современное энергосберегающее оборудование.

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What advice would you give to people who want to become more sustainable in everyday life?

Done is better than Perfect. For sure. I hear a lot of scepticism about the amount of plastic everywhere and how it’s impossible to avoid it, but a singe habit of carrying reusable bags to the grocery store is already a big step in the right direction.

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Какой совет ты дала бы людям, которые хотят быть более эко-сознательными?

“Сделано” – это лучше, чем “Идеально”. Я слышу много скептицизма по поводу количества пластика повсюду и того, как его невозможно избежать, но даже простая привычка приходить в продуктовый магазин со своей сумкой – уже большой шаг в правильном направлении.

Why did you focus on denim?

It’s very versatile, you can shape it into anything you’d like. And it’s my favourite fabric to wear.

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Почему ты решила сделать ставку на деним?

Он очень универсален, его можно превратить его во что угодно. И это моя любимая ткань.

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How were born your best seller demi denim?

I remember my friends wearing vintage high-waisted trousers all the time and I started to look closely at them. They were banana-pants from second-hand markets, which are very popular in Ukraine. I wondered how I could re-invent these pants and make them look modern. At the same time I was fascinated by the idea of combining a skirt and a pair of trousers in one cut from my early student years. 

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Как родился твой бестселлер – джинсы деми-деним?

Я помню, как мои друзья все время носили винтажные джинсы с завышенной талией, и я начала присматриваться к ним. Это были джинсы-бананы с рынков сэконд-хэнда, которые очень популярны в Украине. Я задавалась вопросом, как можно сделать их современными. В то же время я была помешана на идее объединить юбку и брюки в одну вещь с моих ранних студенческих лет!

 

What is your dream project?

I would love to collaborate with a big brand and upcycle their headstock int o something unique.

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Проект твоей мечты?

Я хотела бы сотрудничать с крупным брендом и получить доступ к их архивам, чтобы превратить их во что-то уникальное.

 

What are your future projects?

First of all, it’s our shirt project – a line of items made out of discarded fabric patches. We decided to take care of the tons of fabric patches that usually are thrown away. For the Shirt Project we use our own archive. We also want to collaborate with our suppliers so we asked them to send their stock of swatches to produce first samples. Furthermore, we would like to announce that we are ready to re-work any unwanted patches from all over the world. Our own production has been working with vintage and reused materials for more than seven years. We created the special technologies to upcycle vintage garments and leftovers in our studio. Each piece from this line is made by hand and it’s certainly unique.

Расскажи о твоих ближайших планах?

Прежде всего, наш проект с рубашками – это будет линия вещей, сделанных из образцов ткани, которые больше не нужны производителям. Мы решили позаботиться о тоннах образцов ткани, которые обычно выбрасываются. Для проекта рубашек мы используем наш собственный архив. Мы также хотим сотрудничать с нашими поставщиками, поэтому мы попросили их прислать свой запас образцов для производства первых моделей. Кроме того, мы хотели бы объявить, что мы готовы переработать любые нежеланные образцы со всего мира. Наше собственное производство работает со старыми и повторно используемыми материалами уже более семи лет. Мы создали специальные технологии для переработки винтажной одежды и остатков в нашей студии. Каждое изделие из этой линии сделано вручную и, безусловно, уникально.

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My Interview with Eva Geraldine Fontanelli, Italian fashion icon and founder of Goooders

Eva, how do you pass your quarantine?

Eva Geraldine: Just like everyone else, I’m cooking, cleaning, talking on the phone with my friends and family, and also revising my clothes. I’ve found recently so many nice things that I completely forgot about. I’m looking at my wardrobe from another perspective, thinking about how to recycle and restyle the items I don’t wear. I would mix them in an unusual way, or adjust the fit.

What is your background in fashion?

E.G.: I started working in fashion in my 20s, moving to New York and getting an intern job, very ‘Devil Wears Prada’ style. Since then I was working on different positions, in New York and London, and at the end I moved back to Italy to be a fashion editor. About 4-5- years ago I decided to change my career, trying to give it a real purpose. This is how I turned to sustainable fashion.

Many people will be inspired by your story! I’m on your side, being interested in sustainable fashion. How do you support ethical fashion?

E.G.: I’m working as creative consultant for ethical fashion brands abroad, helping them to enter into the fashion business. I’m trying to add a truly fashionable concept to ethical projects, which usually lack this aspect. For this purpose I travelled to Kenia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Afghanistan – which is very different from working for Prada team! The local designers have good ideas, but they need vision, and I need lots of patience to work with the artisans. But the quality of their work is incredible, and even I would like to promote collaborations between established European designers and these artisans. And some oh their creation we also sell on Goooders.

You’re doing great job! Tell us about your Goooders project.

E.G.: It’s a multilayered concept. Goooders.com is a brand, a platform, a guide – many different things. The main idea is bringing to the market beautiful and meaningful, sustainable, eco-friendly creations. It started from conscious travelling with pop-ups in luxury hotels (as in Paris, on Amalfi Coast).The e-commerce initially was only aimed to give a hint about what we have in pop-up stores, but now, when everything is going digital due to the situation, we are moving all our experiences into online – as our SoFa, So Good travel experience dedicated to various destination with high sense of realism. I would like to bring the idea of conscious living.

Can you give us some advice on how to be more sustainable?

E.G.:You can be eco-sustainable, trying to consume less plastic and buying at farmers markets where you have paper packaging. Always carry your personal multiuse water bottle. Try to use less the elevator and switch off the lights when you don’t need it: when a bunch of people does it, we’ll make difference. Do nice things for others, for your environment and the people who surround you. Upcycle your clothing: restyle, think about new ways of using, cut off the collar of your white shirt or make a skirt shorter – experiment!

What your summer wardrobe consists of?

E.G.: Definitely, a white shirt, which is the base of my wardrobe. Also, I’m in love with pareos in nice fabrics for summer, which you can wear as a top, a skirt, or a dress. Pajamas, I’m a big fan. And it’s getting more and trendier nowadays! I would pair them with some nice accessories, or shoes, to make it look fancy. We have some nice ones at Goooders.com – it’s Made in India and fair-trade. Also, kimonos are a great thing for summer, especially for a night out.

What is your vision for future?

E.G.: I’m thinking about more and more collaborations, at deeper levels – to my mind, this is the future model. For example, Goooders and Nike. For my business this will be the way. I think we all will be more open to interaction in general. I’m dreaming about launching a Goooders hotel in a sustainable and luxury destination.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

E.G.: Be yourself!

Name 3 things you’re craving to do when the quarantine’s over?

E.G.: Having my morning cappuccino at the corner bar where I’m a regular. I really miss the seaside (my grandmother lives in South of France, and my mother in Tuscany by the sea), so I would probably take a drive along the coast. And I would love to catch up with my friends, laughing together in person.

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My Interview with Giuseppe Zanotti: Creator of the Sexiest Shoes on Earth

Giuseppe, can you describe your designing process: from an idea to the creation of a shoe?

G. Z.: My favourite way is to start from a simple sketch. I would take an empty paper. It’s very important, a white piece of paper. Your ambition is to realize something on it — whatever. And you design a line, simple line (Giuseppe takes a pencil and draws a shape of a high heel shoe).

Beautiful, you’ve made it in five seconds!

G. Z.: It’s not a technical sketch, it’s just a line. And you know that after 2 hours you can always add something to it: metal, or flowers, or diamonds, or nothing. Or you can do a flat version of the same shoe. So this is the first exercise: to put your ideas onto a white paper. Then you need to write a story for your shoe, like for a movie, to insert it to the whole marketing strategy. And then the realization begins: you need to find materials, shape it, develop first prototypes, cut the leather, do the stitching and then correct it with scissors in hand made mode. And then, if your blood becomes worn by people, then it’s a good shoe. If not, it’s just garbage!

Do you have some hobby apart from your work, like sports, art, hunting?

G. Z.: I’m a bit allergic to sports. I even don’t care about football too much, unlike the majority of Italians. Sometimes I exercise though, about 2 times a week, but it’s always a torture for me, and my coach is my enemy who wants to kill me because I’m cancelling my appointments all the time! I do like art, and I visit lots of museums while travelling for work. I’m inspired by the past and history. I’m collecting contemporary and photography. I also like nature: at home, I have an organic biological garden with cucumbers, watermelons, salad, eggplants and olive trees to produce my own oil. I’m happy when I’m close to nature and animals.

Do you think that photography is real art? Who are your favourite photographers?

G. Z.: I think that photography is a unique medium to catch the atmosphere, the soul, the blood. A good photo should stay with me like a friend, I like having it at home to find inspiration in it all the time. But I don’t appreciate something too strong or too raw. For me, Helmut Newton was a great artist; I find lots of power of women and love in his work. I admire Richard Avedon for elegance as well. I also enjoy a lot the work of my friends who are famous Italian photographers, like Maurizio Galimberti and Carlo Benvenuto.

How do you choose photographers for your ad campaigns?

G. Z.: First of all, they need to capture what your product represents, to render the mood and the idea of the collection. Creating an ad campaign or a look book, it’s always about teamwork. You should have a good art director and stylist to transmit the concept behind the collection, and the photographer needs to have the right sensibility: if the collection is about 1920s, jazz & night, the photographer should be able to shoot in this mood, and also research this vibe in the archives to get into the right aesthetics.

Can you name some well-known people who inspire you and whom you would like to be compared with?

G. Z.: I don’t want to be compared to anyone, but in fashion, I respect a lot the work of Martin Margiela for his purity, Thierry Mugler with whom I worked, Azzedine Alaia who I was lucky to meet many years ago. But it’s not about the fame — I’m inspired by all the people who are strong and who have personality. I also admire the normal people who love what they do, people from the streets — like those who love to cook, or carve wood, or do some construction works for my house. In Italy the hands of people represent real value. We respect expertise and tradition. Simple values of real life: this is where I jump when I’m exhausted by the fashion system.

Which superpower you would like to have?

G. Z.: My superpower would be going to the past with time machine and see the world which was less contaminated than now: the sky was wider, the water purer. We need to educate the population to respect more this crazy planet, and use this lesson that life is giving us now in order to learn something. Using this superpower, I would travel to Rome, Lisbon, Beijing, but also all the small cities of Italy, which are all precious with their castles of XI century. Here in Italy we have 3 000 years of history behind us: the Romans, the Etruscans, we have them in our blood. And, of course, I would take my mobile phone with me and come back with lots of pictures!

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What’s your favourite place in the world?

My living room! When I’m tired after work trips (Milan – New York – Miami –Milan – Rome, etc), I adore being back to my living room, to and my dog, the remote control and a glass of Nebbiolo or pinot noir wine.

Could you describe your brand in terms of values?

G. Z.: Giuseppe Zanotti has good and bad things about it, like all the other brands. The bad, for me, is having too many ideas: I would like to be more edited! The good thing is that we really think a lot about adapting the design to the needs of a woman, trying to give also the comfort when she’s wearing 10 cm of stilettos. We engineer our shoes to give the pleasure of wearing, good shape and stability. Also, my shoes do last!

I can prove it: I bought my first pair of your shoes about 5 years ago, and they still look like new. This is also very sustainable: shoes that last become a good investment.

G. Z.: Yes, I was always thinking that fashion shouldn’t be about throwing your money into a garbage bin. It’s interesting that nowadays I often see my shoes of 20 years ago in vintages stores. And I buy them, to have them in my archives, to learn from the crazy and ambitious ideas that I had in those times.

What is the best piece of advice one can receive in the fashion world?

G. Z.: Keep calm, relax. In fashion everything is fast and furious; everyone wants the things be done immediately. And also people often dream about working in the fashion sphere to get the taste of this privileged world with its atmosphere of luxury. And it’s a wrong approach. To work in fashion, you need to learn seriously: study materials, colours, stones. You need to be experienced. In fashion, you should work with passion and patience.

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