Should fashion be more than sustainable?


Our lands are poisoned. In Italy alone 12482 sites have been estimated as potentially contaminated and awaiting reclamation, 58 of them have been identified and categorized as seriously endangered and polluted with a high health hazard risk.

Let us now introduce you a plant, an ancient crop that has been traced back to 8000 B.C. used for ropes and fabrics, this is hemp. An essential fiber in the past mentioned in a fresco in the porticoes of Bologna “panis vita, canabis protectio, Vinum laetitia”, bread is life, hemp is protection and wine is joy. Abandoned during the era of synthetics and mass production, it has been re-proposed, anticipating the green deal, by slow fashion designers such as Cecilia Rinaldi, now rediscovered not only by fashion but also in the cosmetics industry.
Nowadays, however, hemp is not only the raw material behind the production of one of the most resistant natural fibers, it is also the protagonist of a bio-miracle, or phytoremediation from pollutants, a term coined by researcher Ilya Riskin in the 90s during her experiments in the land surrounding Chernobyl.

The plant has been studied internationally and, in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic tragedy, a project started by the Apulian Environmental Biologists Association which have prepared the study of more varieties of hemp to test the soil cleaning behavior from heavy metals. Thanks to the results obtained, a list of the best performing types and where the heavy metals are stored within them will be disclosed to understand which parts can then be used, generating a virtuous principle of circular development. Hemp is just one of the miraculous vegetations species which have been tested and could be involved in phytoremediation.

Agriculture is closely related to the world of fashion and its transition to regenerative agriculture such as the one tested by ABAP can be an accelerator for not only sustainable but also restorative fashion and some brands have already turned towards a 100% regenerative supply chain, with the new mindset “farm-to-closet” where the company is no more just sustainable but a regenerative fashion brand. Starting from the seed and the farmers to the artisans, every player, and practice involved in the production contributes to restoring a positive balance for both planet and people.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, many fashion brands shared their interest and position about sustainability, which should not be only a matter of marketing (aka greenwashing) but the real starting point for a metamorphosis into regenerative fashion.

Francesca Malagoli