Being circular without even being aware of it was a discovery made by ES’GIVIEN, a Verona/Florence-based clothing brand founded by sisters Gaia, Nives and Vivilla Zampini. Their success story dates back to 2005 when ES’GIVEN’s debut collection was selected by Pitti Immagine for its emerging brand award for its quality and innovation. In the years that followed, the three sisters broke fresh new ground as they strove to integrate their distinctive quality with a new core value: sustainability. All-round sustainability.
A decade later, they launched the #ilfashionbelloebuono (“beautiful and good fashion”) project to bring fashion and social conscious together to add value “beyond ourselves,” as they like to say at ES’GIVIEN. It launched campaigns in partnership with NGOs and local organizations against female genital mutilation, gender-based violence and human rights violations.
“But our meeting with Enel X made us even more aware that what we were doing was actually already sustainable and circular,” says Vivilla Zampini, a psychologist by training but now CEO of the company. That encounter came about in 2019 thanks to the not-for-profit organization FAIR and resulted in a Circular Economy Report, in which Enel X measured the circularity of both the company and its entirely Italian production chain, which is spread all over the country.
“Today the three values that make us stand out are increasingly those of the QIS acronym: quality, innovation and sustainability. Fashion is beauty, creativity and aesthetics, but it can’t be an end in itself. We use its very instantly-impactful language to ‘add value beyond ourselves,’ to add tangible value beyond fashion itself,” continues Vivilla Zampini, who has also built two major events around the #ilfashionbelloebuono initiative that featured leading Italian and international guests. The first was held at the end of 2019 at the famous Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, while the second took place on November 30 at the Italian Senate in Rome (and live-streamed): it was entitled “The Future of Made in Italy and the Strategic Axes For Restarting.”
“Thanks to the study we carried out together, Enel X discovered that our production method can be a measurable, repeatable and exportable model,” continues Vivilla Zampini. At the Senate, Nicola Tagliafierro, Head of Sustainability at Enel X, announced the 2021 launch of the Circular Observatory for Fashion, a project that will help apply the circular model to other companies in the sector. “The circular economy is not just about recycling and reusing. Paradoxically, we shouldn’t even get as far as needing to recycle and reuse: the potential for the fashion world is huge and I don’t just mean in terms of the product but also the process,” explained Tagliafierro who also underscored Enel’s world leading position in sustainability, which was recognized when it was the top utility on this year’s Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. “The Enel X Circularity Report is the starting point: if we don’t measure where we are, we can’t improve. And ES’GIVEN is a model that, if it is made available to others, can help extend value and yield new results in terms of circularity.”
In Enel X’s report, ES’GIVIEN was awarded an overall circularity score of 30.3%. This was because of the company’s specific focus on the design of their clothes, both in terms recovery of fabrics and minimizing waste of anything that could be reused as a raw material to make accessories. More than 10% of the silk, cashmere, wool, makò cotton and technical textiles and fabrics used by ES’GIVIEN as input materials are recycled and almost 80% are recyclable.
According to the Report, the company turned the original #ilfashionbelloebuono concept, which started out with a social awareness dimension, into a broader business idea by combining circularity and solidarity. “There are still margins for improvement, such as introducing selection mechanisms that reward suppliers on the basis of certain sustainability and circularity criteria or distribution choices. However, given that the only thing that’s certain is continuous change, we will continue to evolve our understanding of how to gradually introduce new improvements into the entire system and process,” adds Vivilla Zampini.
The Verona site’s energy circularity score is 27.1%, but could jump to 72%, if photovoltaic panels were installed to produce renewable energy in-house, electric mobility solutions were adopted for transport between the production sites spread over the area, and the lighting system was made more efficient by replacing old bulbs with LED lights.
“Thanks to Enel X’s Report, we are more aware than ever of the need to share the key issue of managing materials at the end of production with the whole “spread-out company.” So, in addition to the traditional NGOs, we want to really encourage younger designers to get involved in a completely sustainable process to produce new limited edition objects/clothes,” adds the company CEO. “If we are circular and generative, we can help create a very real network of different skills and resources that add value beyond fashion.”
The Enel X Circularity Report also focused on ES’GIVEN’s must-have product, the iconic ES957 technical overcoat, by analyzing various factors: input, fabrics, materials, production process, energy, sales channels, recycling methods and disposal.
“We will be continuing to work with Enel X on other products too. We are still at the research phase there,” concludes Vivilla Zampini, who is also very much aware that there is no going back from sustainability. “Our generation are not digital natives, and we aren’t used to the concept of sustainability, but our target clients are and the new generations are increasingly focused on all things green and related themes. So the fashion world’s core business, the demands of aesthetics, are being driven towards new needs: a 360° focus on social awareness, on resources and the planet. That is the only way the fashion world will guarantee itself a win-win era that respects the broader system it is a part of.”
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The circular economy was at the top of the agenda at the first edition of #ilfashionbelloebuono held in Florence. Enel X demonstrated how it used its Circularity Report to make designer fashion house Es’givien even more efficient and sustainable
The circular economy at EXCO 2019. Enel X presented its model for accelerating the circular economy and, with the Enel X Report, awarded accolades to seven companies in the category of “Best Performer of the Circular Economy 2019”