• Vanessa Friedman in New York Times office. Photo by Clément Pascal.
  • Marco Bizzarri, Ceo Gucci. Photo by Petra Collins.
  • Vanessa Friedman, photo by Clément Pascal.

Vanessa Friedman

A conversation with
Marco Bizzarri

In conversation two of the most astute and influential
minds in the Fashion Industry today.


When I’m looking at a designer, or at what a designer is doing, I don’t want them to give me what I want, I want them to give me what I don’t even know I want until I see it. I want them to show me something that I haven’t thought about. – VANESSA FRIEDMAN

MUSE What does it mean to be sustainable in an industry which is the most polluting one?
VF I don’t believe fashion is sustainable right now, it’s not even close to be sustainable. I think sustainability implies circularity, it implies something that can be reused, reinvented and re-fed into the ecosystem. If we don’t know what happens to things after they leave the store, we’re missing half of the equation.
MB Dear Vanessa, frankly, what you are saying is very theoretical for now…everyone is talking about a circular economy at this time, but none knows how to solve it at scale. The problem about it is how we can really reuse materials and the only way we can do that is by inventing a new technology that creates a way for you to reuse the product.
VF Shouldn’t we all be aiming to do that at some point?
MB What you say makes sense, but then there is practicality.
There are two things to keep in mind, one is that you have to sell the product to the consumer and in most cases the consumer will keep the product. Then you have the end of life, and what do you do about that? To achieve circularity, you need to find a way for the product to be reinvented and re-circulated. To do that, you need to invest in innovation and new technologies. As a group, this is what Kering is doing, to make sure that the concept of the circular economy is more than just words. So, this is not about the designers, but really the technology. Think about the startups that today are on the way to become big companies.
Some of them are creating leather in vitro that can really break through on the supply chain. You will no longer need to use leather from animals but can create your own. Today, the question is if this technology is scalable and if the quality of the leather is acceptable. We are not there yet, but it will come.
VF Is the leather they’re making bio-degradable leather or synthetic?
MB The bio-degradable leather is not the problem here. If you break down the impact on the planet of the supply chain of the fashion industry, you’ll realize it is about the animals and the way they live. If you think about it, the maintenance of animals is by definition a cause of pollution too. So, if you break down the impact on the supply chain, it turns out to be clear that the right question is not if it is bio-degradable or not, but if we are able to create something that is sustainable. If you look at all the phases of the production process you can see that the biggest impact is the first one, which account for 80% of the total, not the last one. Of course, bio-degradable is an issue, but not the main one. You have to start from the beginning of the process.

*Following this conversation Gucci recently announced to have become entirely carbon neutral, more info here


Read the full interview on MUSE 53