Our eco-wardrobe, season after season: the coat

Can you dress ‘seasonally’? Is it possible to slow down the frenetic pace dictated by the world of fashion that releases seasonal collections a year in advance? Can you dress in a way that is respectful to nature, dressing with natural fibres and avoiding synthetic dyes?

Each one of these questions is a challenge to the market and status quo, but one that we are posing!

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Everything begins with our love for the countryside, along with the attention that we pay to the rhythms of the seasons (from small signs that can be seen in the sky, trees, meadows and that, thank god, can still be perceived even in big cities, perhaps in a small flowerbed between the concrete), and the distaste we have for anything that alters this rhythm.

The idea of creating an eco-wardrobe is one that began to take shape when we met Rosso di Robbia, otherwise known as Michela Pasini, whose experiments with natural dyes and eco-printing have become her work and life’s passion.

Rosso di Robbia has been for us a discovery, an inspiration to find out more, and a friend. Meeting her was the beginning of a friendship that has grown in time, and is deepened by Francesca’s long experience in the world of fashion, Rosa’s passion for threads and knitting, and the sewing skills of our dear friend Agnese, who is always ready with her sewing machine, a needle in hand and a love for never throwing away paper patterns that she makes herself, sometimes after just seeing a simple photo.

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This has resulted in a team, a closeness to nature that comes from deep motivations and life choices, a wealth of projects to undertake and different skills to put together.

And this is how we made some unique items of clothing such as a woollen coat with a very simple shape, knitted sleeves, a crocheted belt, and printed on top with madder roots and maple and oak leaves (quercus pubescens) and sweet gum…

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What were the eco-sustainable ‘ingredients’ used to get this result?

Let’s try to list them, step-by-step:

For the fabric – look for unused fabric scraps at home; or look in a shop you trust for a piece of fabric that you can reuse (e.g. end of line, offcuts);

check that the fabric is ready to be dyed (i.e. it is completely natural, with no chemical dye used on it);

For the thread – find the required amount of untreated wool, which should also be free from chemical dyes; you may need to get this directly from a producer;

For the dyeing and printing – look for plant material that will produce the desired colour or a find a trusted supplier. For the former have a look in fields, woods etc; for the latter Michela turns to Samuele of Terraeblu ;

Decide which materials you would like to use for the printing and go off in search for the leaves you want. For madder roots, once again Michela turns to Samuele;

Make sure that Rosso di Robbia is available, in exchange for our help and materials. Because although we know the process, Rosso di Robbia must be there if we want an excellent result!

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There are lots of stages and we can’t always do them at the same time; the work in itself is an ode to doing things slowly! Once you have all the materials together, start by dying the wool (in the case of this coat, the light grey fading to purple was obtained by using wood from a logwood tree). Then go on to cutting and printing the fabric (cutting before printing guarantees an excellent result when you arrange the selected materials), knitting the sleeves and crocheting the belt. Then you can put everything together.

This was a real project, involving eight hands! We made this item in Rosa’s size and she will be able to wear it for years to come, alternating it with other items. Then when she is not able to wear it any longer she will be able to reuse the fabric (either part or all of it, since it was cut straight) and, should she wish, she can print something else on it to make another item. She will also be able to reuse the sleeves (perhaps turning it into a jumper, or using the wool for another knitting project!)

Created by nature, to be worn season after season, since clothing like this will last for years and can be 100% recycled!

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Text by Rosa Rossi

Translation by Fuschia Hutton


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