Authentic and refined quality clothing made with organic raw materials. Melodious music for my hearing, spirit of research and desire to conceal hidden realities that with constancy and commitment want to reverse the course: from waste, low quality, exploitation in the world of fashion to respect, care, passion, tradition, value that touches not only one aspect but the whole chain that leads to the creation of what we wear. Eticlò is a fascinating world, a brand that is based on the use of fabrics made from fine and organic Egyptian raw materials. But not only that. It is a world in which you can rediscover Italian craftsmanship, pure wool obtained from joyful and free sheeps, the pleasure of wearing garments that are good for the skin because they do not intoxicate but pamper it, protect it, giving light to this ancestral harmony between living beings and nature. I met Sara, Eticlò Co-Founder, in their store in Via Clavature 22 / E. Clean, simple but refined lines, natural materials such as bamboo, linen, allago wool, those styles close to the northern Europe style that it fascinate for cleaning, meticulous attention to details, the rigorous absence of burrs that it fully reveals what organic means and what it means love and respect for the world and who lives in it.
How and where is your brand born?
My family has always been tied to organic food, however. I had the desire to create something significant always linked to organic and I was very interested in the theme of textiles. In 2017 I started working on the idea of Eticlò and in my path I met Desiree, Elia and Marzia, the other founding members who immediately liked the project. We then decided to open the shop in March 2018. Initially we wanted to collect the organic clothing proposals on the market and coordinate them with a contemporary taste but during the research we realized that in this sector there was a great scarcity from the point of view the refinement of the design. Ethics and bio are always declined in very minimal and simple clothing and we realized that they are never an alternative. It is difficult for them to compete with other, much more captivating brands. So we decided to produce our own line trying to combine ethics with aesthetics. Our very first SS 2018 collection started with 12 items in various colors. Then gradually we added new ones and today we have a wide assortment. Also in our shop there are other sustainable brands from all over Europe such as Freitag, Funktionschnitt, Birkesnstock.
What is Eticlò’s ethics?
We work on the basis of these principles: organic fabric and dyeing, verified sustainable supply chain and versatile and long-term design which is as important as the raw material. “Organic Fabric and Timeless design” is our concept. Our garments are sober precisely so that they are versatile and durable. Furthermore, processing the biological raw material is not like working the traditional one. There are indications related to colors and fantasy. While the other brands begin to design the fabrics and then search for the raw material we do the opposite. We look at what the square offers and then with the ingredients that we have recovered we go to create what our collections are to enhance the raw material.
What is the difference between a traditional garment and a 100% organic one?
A few weeks ago a beautician who produces bio cosmetics and use them for her clients told me that in the past 10-15 years she observed that almost every wax she does, the strips once torn, turn blue-black. We do not notice it but we have a deposit on our skin derived from what we wear. Our brand uses raw materials with GOTS certification (Global Organic Textile Standard, ed). This means that both in the raw material and in the production chain of our fabrics, standards have been respected from the social and environmental point of view therefore in the workplace there is no child exploitation, the worker is paid correctly, the factory that has dyed does not has polluted the whole territory. We have many customers who come into the shop because they are allergic or develop allergy to certain fabrics and therefore only need to wear 100% organic clothing. The pure cotton t-shirt, the pure wool sweater are products that have a higher quality than what we are used to. For example, a pure wool sweater keeps the heat more while continuing to allow the skin to breathe. Sustainability always equates to higher quality.
Quality increases and costs go hand in hand. Fast fashion, on the other hand, has reversed all this, causing the consumer to think that the lower the price, the bigger the deal, obscuring the details. What is the correct vision that we should have when looking at the costs of clothing?
The trend now is to spend a lot on food but not on clothes. Once upon a time there was no such possibility. There were no economic alternatives. The generation from 35 years of age grew up influenced by this reality of fast fashion. We grew up seeing this type of business with t-shirts that can cost € 9.90. While our parents and grandparents are more balanced in calculating the value of a piece of clothing. We bought a jacket, the good one and we went on for several years. It is a challenge to speak to these generations today, to convey that such a low price equates to low wages for those who produce it, therefore to exploitation, it also equates to scarce raw materials that are not good for the skin as I mentioned before and not even for the environment because the volume of pollution is greater. But be careful. The high price does not ensure high quality and sustainability. This is why certifications are important, see if a brand has them.
How important is it for you in this historical period to pursue sustainable ethics in the clothing sector?
In our opinion infinitely important. From an environmental and human point of view. The consumer is beginning to wonder what lies behind what he buys and what he wears. There is a great deal of attention to buying in food, we have accepted the logic of knowing what is financed when buying a certain thing. Attention is still elusive on textiles. Fast fashion brands that are producing sustainable lines to answer a growing demand testify to this.
Is it possible to create sustainable lines for a brand that is not?
It depends on what we mean by sustainable. I don’t think the big brands can afford to sell an organic cotton which in reality is not, however, it is necessary to think what sense it makes to use organic cotton and then make it sew for children therefore not respecting the whole sustainable supply chain. If you sell me an organic cotton t shirt for 9.90 euros you are already telling me that something is wrong. The problem is that it is normal for us to think that a shirt costs like this but in reality it is not. The material has been selected but there is something missing in the rest of the supply chain. These small projects within such large companies for us in the sector appear more like marketing operations. And even if they don’t work for them, it won’t weigh too much given the volume of their business. The moment we look at the prices at which they are sold and we do not reflect on why they have that price there, there is something that escapes us.
Where do you think the consumer feels urged to spend more on a sustainable garment?
In reality this is a bit the limit of all sustainable projects. When we propose our project, almost everyone shares it and marries it. When, however, we are going to propose a sale price that is not so accessible and to which we are no longer used to finding other apparently similar garments at a lower price, the challenge begins. If I’m not ready for that item then I won’t buy it. This is a bit of an obstacle that we are encountering and that even our “like” people encounter. Paying the right, ethical chain has different costs. Being small we have higher production, management costs. It is the challenge of the moment and the future. Switch from “oh how nice the project” to “ok I spend more”.
Do you think there will be a return to ethical values and their evolution?
Let’s hope so. In fact there is. Here in this shop we sell more to people who approach for this type of reason: I look for quality and find something in which I am more comfortable. This is initially the approach of those who follow this type of product. Those who feel comfortable wearing our clothes take multiple pieces of different colors. There is a rediscovery of the quality on one’s skin that we are no longer used to.
Today who is the average consumer of Eticlò? Who has already developed this type of sensitivity and attitude?
Our project is very popular with English-speaking tourists. Especially for its small size. A year ago a lady from London fell in love with the fact that we were here to serve, just us who created the project. This lady is still writing to us. The concept that the owner is in the store in contact with people, with customers, is fundamental for me.
How do you imagine the future of your project?
Attend other squares and strengthen the proposals.