Giusy Bettoni is a specialist in fibers, yarns and textile materials. But not any kind of materials. Innovative and responsible ones for a fashion as attractive as it is respectful of the environment.
By Ludmilla Intravaia
Le Boudoir Numérique : You are the founder of C.L.A.S.S. (acronym for Creativity Lifestyle And Sustainable Synergy), a platform based in Milan, specialized in integrating eco values into fashion. Why did you take the path of responsible textile innovation?
Giusy Bettoni, C.L.A.S.S. CEO : My background is about fibers, yarns and textile materials, coming from all over the world. At a certain point in my life, around the year two thousand, I saw that technology was completly changing, with, for instance, the emergence of biopolymers (from renewable resources, plants for example, and potentially biodegradable, AN). For the first time, technology was offering the possibility to add a third dimension to design and innovation in fashion : responsibility. At the beginning of two thousand, something was wrong : sustainable products were not good looking, they were expensive and not performing. As we know, in fashion, the look, the design of clothing is everything to our eyes. Nobody would ever buy a garment that is not good looking. Thanks to technology, I realized that sustainability was now possible for the market. Together, creativity, innovation and responsibility became, for me, the new bounderies for textile and fashion, a way to make succesful, beautiful and sustainable products that people would want to buy. Realizing this completely change my way of thinking, my way of life and doing business. In 2007, I created C.L.A.S.S., a platform trying to put together everything that is going in this three dimensional approach, from a material, product, process and communication perspective.
At C.L.A.S.S., one can find the Material Hub, a selection of smart materials, yarns and fabrics. Why do you provide this kind of service?
Many designers and brands are already doing researches on sustainable innovation and have their own fabrics library. But what is very difficult to find, gathered in one room, is a collection of key examples of smart materials excellence. That’s what we do at C.L.A.S.S. with our partners from around the world. We are looking for the most inspirational materials that are at the forefront of technological advancements and design responsibility. We concentrate those fibers, yarns, polymers, etc., in the Hub, while telling the story behind those products and showcasing processes like finishing, printing or dyeing. We are helping fabrics producers to best communicate their uniqueness and, at the same time, explaining to brands that we have premium materials, in order to push this new offer to consumers that are looking for it.
C.L.A.S.S. also plays an educational role…
Market research shows that consummers are ready to pay even ten percent more for sustainable fashion. But they are not doing it. Market research also tells that millennials, all over the world, are the ones who should be buying from responsible brands. But they do not. There are two main reasons for this. The first one is that millennials are wondering: where is the beautiful design in those garments? So, the look is still a problem. The second cause is that consummers do not understand what sustainability means. Because we can create the most amazing responsible things, with the most beautiful design and innovation, if we do not communicate about this new values, people will not understand what it’s all about. This is the challenge we have to face. From two thousand till now, everything has changed, technology has moved very fast but communication is not yet there. And we know very well that it is not enough to say "eco friendly" or "sustainability" to be sure that it is really responsible, because there is a lot of greenwashing (marketing promoting the deceptive perception that a product is environmentally responsible, AN) using generic terms. At C.L.A.S.S., we want to get to the next level in communication and we try to do it in sinergy with other platforms. For instance, I am sustainability consultant for Première Vision Paris Smart Creation, an information platform highlighting innovative players in responsible creativity (on the last edition of Première Vision Smart Square, read this interview of fashion manager Marina Coutelan, on Le Boudoir Numérique, AN). It’s important to communicate, in a very simple way, about circular economy, because for the first time, we have this win-win situation, with a fashion that can be good for the environment, the human beings and the industry.
On the last Première Vision Smart Square, one could see Sylvia Heisel’s dress produced by 3D printing in bioplastic (read this Boudoir Numérique article “I want to print compostable fast fashion clothes”). Do you think that bioplastics have a part to play in the future of fashion?
Sylvia Heisel did an amazing work, using the most advanced 3D printing to create a completly biodegradable and compostable dress. In two thousand, the bipolymers I mentionned earlier were derived, for instance, from starch that processed in a certain way would be used to make plastic but also fibers. Now there are bioplastics produced fromcarbon dioxide. Can you imagine what it means for the environment and a new level of industry? Bioplastic is not a dream anymore, it’s a reality. So yes, I think it has a role to play in the future. But plastic is not the only material. There are a lot of research around at least twenty or thirty materials. Some of them are already available at a commercial level and others are on the way. With BioCouture, for instance, you can use cellular bio organisms to ferment materials, basically like beer. You can produce new leathers with the residues of an industry, like Frumat with apples for example. We are living a fantastic moment, because lots of things are happening in amazing startups, full of technologies, in the field of biopolymeres and the new one of biosynthetics fibers as well (biosynthesis is the formation of chemical compounds by living organisms, AN). And the more you use an innovation, the more you learn about it, so I am sure that we will have other incredible things coming very soon. We need to keep an eye on all those developping things, especialy when we are talking about fashion tech.
How do you forseen the future of fashion technology, especially in the sustainability field?
I think that technology, when it's responsible, is a great solution for fashion. It's a great alliance in order to make clothing that you like but also responsible for the planet. I am not an engineer but I think that this is the direction that everything is taking. Fashion technology and sustainability have to go together. You cannot separate them. Those two ingredients have to be in everything we do, make and wear, every day of our life. Everything must be sustainable through responsible technology. The more we will push the bounderies, the more we will get there. And what we are doing at C.L.A.S.S. today will become a natural thing in the future.
* Find C.L.A.S.S. website here.