Descience would like to introduce participating designer Valentina Oppezzo. With an eclectic background, Valentina has a bachelor’s in Intercultural Studies and a Master’s in Cinema. She wrote a book, published in Italy, about the Harry Potter movies. She worked as a fashion photographer and Italian teacher and she attended classes at the School of Fashion Design of Boston in 2012/2013 as a part-time student. Born in Northern Italy, she now lives in the Boston area with her husband.
We asked Valentina to talk to us about what it means to be a sustainable designer. Below, she explains why she prefers the term “conscious designer,” which she says “better describes her two approaches: ecofriendly and vegetarian fashion,” and gives us five rules she follows as a conscious designer.
We are thrilled that Valentina will by applying this approach to her Descience submission and hope that others may follow her example!
“I consider myself a CONSCIOUS DESIGNER, because, when I create garments and accessories, I always strive to minimize waste, and to use eco-friendly or recycled fabrics. Besides, being vegetarian, I completely avoid materials made by hurting or killing animals. So, thumbs down to leather, fur, silk or feathers (and I also limit the use of wool). And thumbs up to organic cotton, hemp, recycled felt, wild organic nettle, any up cycled material, fair trade and so much more!
MY 5 GOLDEN RULES as a CONSCIUOS DESIGNER:
RECYCLING AND MINIMIZING WASTE IN THE PROCESS OF SKETCHING/ DESIGNING/ MAKING THE MUSLIN
I never throw away paper/ cardboard that I find in packages, boxes, wraps etc., and I use it to sketch and to draw my patterns on. Even though it’s not orthodox, I prefer to make my “muslins” not in, well, muslin, but in scrap fabrics that I already have in my studio and won’t use for actual garments. Plus, I keep any tiny piece of cut-out fabric, which I use for quilting or patchwork.
BUYING FABRIC CERTIFIED ORGANIC, AND/OR FAIR TRADE, AND WHEN POSSIBLE TRING TO LEARN THE STORY BEHIND THE FABRIC I’M BUYING – WHERE WAS THE FIBER GROWN? WHERE WAS IT SPUN? WHO MADE IT?
I happen to find clothes sold by big, mainstream brands a little.. soulless, I would say. This is why instead I want to learn who and what is behind the fabrics that I buy, even if it’s not always possible. I strive to incorporate at least 50% (or more) of sustainable materials in each piece that I make. For example, if I find this reeeeealy cute cotton fabric (regular, not organic) that I reeeeally want to use, then my linings, interfacing, my handbag stays etc. will be for sure organic or recycled.
BEING CREATIVE AND UPCYCLING – ESPECIALLY INTO ACCESSORIES OR FASHION ART PROJECTS – OBJECTS AND MATERIALS THAT OTHERWISE WOULD BEEN THROWN AWAY
I made recently a “Piano dress” entirely composed by used-piano parts, taken out from old, used and broken pianos (the dress was an expansion of the "wearable piano" seminal project, developed together with jazz pianist Moira Lo Bianco). It was challenging, but I totally enjoyed the ride. Then, the other day, I found a bunch of old business cards from my previous job as a photographer, sitting miserably inside a drawer. Instead of throwing them away, I turned some of them into paper flower brooches.
BEING SUPPORTIVE OF THE LOCAL FASHION COMMUNITY
“Shop local” should be applied also to fashion! Besides, I think designers should be supportive of each other and share (experiences, ideas, tips) - which is not always easy, considering the competitive nature of this business.
LIVING WHAT I BELIEVE IN!
Sustainability involves every aspect of life, not only fashion of course!