It’s been said that for young designers, building a sustainable brand should be a no-brainer because they’re starting at zero. They can implement the right materials, practices, and strategies from the beginning, while established designers may have years—or decades—of processes more or less set in stone. You can’t move backwards . . . or can you?
Alberta Ferretti, who started her label in 1981, is beginning a new “journey into sustainability” this year. To start, she’s launching a special Earth Day collection made of certified organic, recycled, and otherwise low-impact materials, produced in partnership with Livia Firth’s Eco-Age. A graphic T-shirt in organic cotton is printed with the words “Love Me” in?the shape of the Earth, while recycled cashmere knits have intarsia messages like “Help Me” beneath a glittering heart-shaped planet or “It’s a Wonderful World,” vaguely reminiscent of the designer’s popular days-of-the-week sweaters. “I deeply care about the environment, and it is my duty to be responsible for a better world for generations to come,” Ferretti told?Vogue. “This collection marks the beginning of a journey into sustainability and my little contribution, full of love and passion, as an ambassador of a new vision in the fashion system.”
Ferretti’s most loyal followers might recall that this actually?isn’t?her first foray into sustainability: In 2011, she partnered with Emma Watson and People Tree (a fair-trade apparel brand employing artisans in Bangladesh) on a five-piece capsule collection. In the scheme of the universe, eight years is a blip—but on the timeline of sustainable fashion (and maybe fashion in general), 2011 feels like eons ago. Who else was talking about organic fabrics and eco-friendly packaging then, aside from Stella McCartney? Firth concurred: “I [have] looked up to Alberta ever since she did the collaboration with Emma Watson and People Tree, back when no luxury houses were exploring the sustainability agenda—particularly with projects in Bangladesh,” she said. “Today, I am so happy that Alberta has decided to start this journey. It’s never an easy one, and it takes a lot of courage and commitment. The collection resulting from this new beginning is absolutely wonderful too, which helps!”
Luxe materials and clever messages aside, Ferretti and Firth zeroed in on the lesser-appreciated details, too: The labels are made of recycled fabric, and Ferretti is working on creating lower-impact packaging, including a compostable garment bag. No matter how responsibly made a garment is, the waste and energy required to ship it across time zones is an issue few designers are willing to address, but we have a feeling that will change in the coming years. You can shop Ferretti’s full “Love Me” collection on her website and in her boutiques starting April 15, with the assortment expanding to specialty department stores in May.