Interview with Eticlò

Organic fabrics, sustainable manufacturing process and timeless design: these are some of the features of Eticlò, an Italian brand that offers a selection of elegant and sophisticated garments. Desirèe Madonna, the Founder of Eticlò, told me they believe in Slow Fashion, and want to offer garments with a fine design, that can be at the same time versatile and long-lasting.

Desirèe, how did you deal with the COVID emergency?

We just went back to business with our Flagship store in Bologna. It seems that we are getting back to reality and I hope we will also get back to normality. 

The lockdown was sad, but I hope that this moment will allow us to start again with a new consciousness and awareness about the world and how much do certain business pollute. 
We should all start to take awareness of what is happening in the world around us.

Can you describe Eticlò, what does it do, since when?

Eticlò was founded in 2017, the name means Ethical Closet. 
We produce in Italy, and we create items with an elegant and timeless design and with sustainable certified fabrics. 
We offer products with a certified supply chain, that match at the same time ethic and aesthetic and that can be worn all day long and in different moments of the day.

Ph: Etienne Cut Pants, Oversized Brighton Parka, Yoko Midi Dress.
Source: Eticlò website,
https://eticlo.com.

Which are the drivers that led you to found this company?

I believe that the first step to be part of the change is to become active. 
That’s why, after 10 years of work in the conventional fashion industry, I decided to found my own brand.
I wanted to offer a selection of garments with an elegant design, that could be at the same time certified and sustainable. 
I could not find such types of products on the market, and therefore I decided to create my own offer in sustainable clothing, promoting at the same time Slow Fashion and trying to make people aware of the pollution caused by traditional fashion industry.

You lived for a long time abroad. Why did you choose Italy to start your business?

I lived for a long time in the US. Although this country is known for being pioneer in many innovative fields, I decided to come back to Italy and found here my company.
Italy is a smaller country compared to US, where is therefore easier to check every part of the supply chain. In US everything is scaled up and more difficult to control. 
I believe that in Italy, people are or want to be more conscious about Fashion Industry, so in my opinion it is a fertile country to develop a sustainable fashion business.
And of course, Italy is recognized worldwide for its excellence in Fashion and here there is a high concentration of artisans and expertise of this industry.

How does sustainability apply to your business model?

Eticlò takes care of the entire supply chain: we select personally the fabrics, which are GOTS certified, check the dyeing process and take care of the selling strategy to the market.
We want to be sustainable step by step and in all senses, at 360°.
The starting points are raw material and fabrics, that have to be produced in a sustainable way. 

But, of course, this is not enough: it is not only important to use such types of clothes, but also to promote a transition in people culture. 
By designing elegant and timeless items, we allow our customers to love our garments for a long period of time, and drive them to adopt a Slow Fashion approach.

Which are the parameters you look for in the raw materials?

We select the fabrics based on several criteria:

  1. Type: they have to be organic, GOTS certified and natural;
  2. Season: we select the fabrics depending on the season and on the collection we want to create;
  3. Performances: not all the sustainable fabrics available on the market are suited to be used for our products.

The main problem is that the offer of sustainable fabrics on the market is not that wide: there is a huge green washing about sustainability and sustainable products, and it became necessary to dig and ask accurate questions about their certifications, to be sure they actually are what they are claimed to be. 

Another important step is the dyeing process: it does not make any sense to struggle to find organic and natural fabric, if then these are coloured with unsustainable dyes. 
We use only dyes that are natural and do not contain heavy metals.

You dye your products using garment dyeing: how does it work? Is it more sustainable than other dyeing processes?

Our dyeing process is certified and is part of our sustainable supply chain. 
It does not make sense to choose natural fibres for products that go in contact with your skin, if you then dye them with toxic or polluting colours.

The garment dyeing technique is also useful to maximize production and avoid waste. 
In standard fashion production, brands must order fabrics that are already dyed. The producers also ask for a minimum order, so either you throw away the meters of fabric you don’t need, or you over produce items that will probably remain unsold or go on sale, diminishing not only the work of those who produced them, but also of the brand.

With garment dyeing technique the garment is first produced, and then dyed. This way we buy only raw and uncoloured tissue, and dye only what is really needed, avoiding waste of material.

In addition, by choosing personally the dyes, we can check every part of our production process and be transparent from step one.

Ph: Sometimes Bermuda Pants, Positano Braces Dress, Olivia Oversized Shirt.
Source: Eticlò website, https://eticlo.com.

How do you choose the design of your products?

I personally take care of this part, together with my designers. We want to have a timeless and elegant design, so our products can still be worn in many years from now. 
They do not have an of-the-moment-trendy style that you like for only one season, but a refined and sophisticated design that you will never get tired of and that you can use in many and different occasions.
There are not many offers on the market that are elegant, sophisticated and at the same time sustainable.
Our products are comfortable as well, because we want to offer a day time look, that makes you feel at your ease all day long and in different occasions.

You sell also products for home and not only clothes. Why?

We partnered with NaturaSì, and organic food supermarket, and we created a first capsule collection for kitchen wear products and a second organic towels collection for the bathroom.
Our goal is to propose a full offer of sustainable clothing line, from home wear to kitchen wear, from adults collections to babies ones.
We will launch soon the baby collection, to cover an important need of our days, the one to use organic and not synthetic products for babies, which have a delicate skin.
This line could also be the starting point for adults to begin their transition to Slow Fashion: we hope that by taking care of their babies and selecting for them only high quality items, adults can start to take care of themselves as well, and choose only organic and natural garments.

You have a shop in Bologna, where you sell also other brands’ products. How do you select them?

We were born 3 years ago and we do not have a complete offer of sustainable products. 
At the same time, since we are promoting a sustainable lifestyle, we would like to offer to our customers a full selection of these types of products. 
This way we can also be the reference point for those who want to act sustainably but do not know many brands or do not know which of them to trust. 
On the other hand, we can also educate people to have a full Slow Fashion style. 
All the brands we select do have the same approach or philosophy we have: acting sustainably and promoting a transition to Slow Fashion.
The connecting point with these brands is always the fabric or material used, that has to be certified and sustainable.

Since you sell also to other shops, how do you manage the leftover? Do your products go on sale?

We do offer some small discounts on special occasions during the year, but we do not go on sale at the end of the season. 
First, because high quality fabric and ethical production do have a certain cost; second, because we do not have leftover at all.
In fact, when we choose a design, we keep it for several collections, allowing our customers to use them for many years, without feeling out of fashion or getting tired of them.
This way, the item can be sold continuatively and therefore there is no need to sell it at discounted price.
This attitude is also a matter of sustainability: if you are able to offer a product that lasts for many years, you value both your work and the choice of your customers. 

What is your mission?

Balance ethic and aesthetic, by giving a different approach to fashion industry.
We want to educate people to buy more sustainable and ethic items.
This approach will lead people to buy less but higher quality items, and be conscious of what they buy and what’s there behind a garment: it does not only represent a fashion style, but also the work, the passion and the commitment of those who made it. 


Here’s the link to Eticlò website: https://eticlo.com.
You can watch the full video interview on the YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/zhlj9XPFk9I.

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