An Oxygen Break
by Laure Ambroise, June 11, 2019
Photography by David Needleman
Launched on the occasion of Earth Day in 2009, YOOXYGEN is the ethically and ecologically responsible destination within YOOX, the world’s largest lifestyle e-tailer. We have met Federico Marchetti, Chairman and CEO of YOOX Net-a-porter Group.
YOOXYGEN's vocation is two fold: supporting designers to implement responsible production and production processes and to offer customers a wide choice. Have your issues evolved since?
Federico Marchetti: One of the biggest challenges in the early days was weak supply. Finding sustainable fashion brands was very difficult and working with them complicated (mastery of know-how but long delivery times). We had to find visionary brands to change the point of view of responsible fashion and to correct the misconception that design, style and luxury were not compatible with sustainable fashion clothing. We have recently seen a turning pointing awareness of sustainability issues in the luxury industry. Companies are supposed to act responsibly. They should not just give back but be proactive to make the world a better place.
You collaborate with influential names in fashion and entertainment, such as Amber Valletta for the launch of her ethical brand Master & Muse, or actress Rosario Dawson and her activist label Studio One Eighty Nine. Do you have other upcoming projects?
F.M: Our goal in 2019 has been to support a new generation of talents. We launched collaborations for Milan Fashion Week last February with The Next Green Talents, a showcase dedicated to young designers who place sustainable and responsible practices at the heart of their creative and production processes. To celebrate Earth Day and YOOXYGEN's birthday, we launched Wrad x YOOX, our second collaboration with the up-and-coming sustainable fashion brand Wrad. On this occasion, we presented an exclusive unisex sweatshirt, created with a sophisticated technology, using a mineral dye called g_pwdr® that reduces water use by up to 90%. In May, we launched Amendment x YOOX, the first capsule of Marissa Petteruti, winner in 2018 of the second YOOXYGEN Award assigned in collaboration with the Parsons School of Design.
Since 2017, you have established a partnership with New York's Parsons School of Design, to promote responsible fashion practices. What does this partnership consist of?
F.M:A few years ago, we decided to go one step further towards a more sustainable future by establishing a long-term partnership with the Parsons School of Design. Our partnership combines our commitment to education and our commitment to sustainable fashion choices. Indeed, we have long been convinced that new talents will lead to a more sustainable fashion program and we feel it is our responsibility to help them: the main step is the YOOXYGEN Award, annually given to a BFA graduate student of the Parsons School of Design. The prize consists of a six-month internship at YOOX headquarters in Milan and the creation of a sustainable collection bearing the graduate's signature.
As a group, we see education as one of our main pillars. That's why we invest in talents’ development in our sector,but also in the education of young people. We will continue to invest in digital education, building the skills needed for a successful digital economy, creating a vast and diverse talent pool from which our industry and broader communities will thrive.
In 2018, 3400 students took part in the digital education activities organized by the group, in partnership with Fondazione Golinelli in Italy and Imperial College of London. I am really convinced that technology will be the greatest partner for a sustainable development in the future... and I also think that the next Coco Chanel will be a coder!
As part of the ongoing partnership with Parsons, you have just launched Marissa Petteruti's Edition x YOOX capsule collection on your website. What are the reasons for its success?
F.M: Marissa simply brings out the extraordinary in the ordinary. Last year, she won the YOOXYGEN Award for what we have identified as a new, holistic and innovative approach to a responsible fashion. When she joined our Milan office as part of this award to work on her first capsule, we asked her to expand on her previous work, offering the valuable support of our in-house team to help her expand her knowledge about sustainable design and turn her ideas into a collection. The result is Amendment x YOOX, a 11-piece, unisex capsule collection made entirely from organic fabrics that explores the concept of uniform clothing and its ability to unite people while reducing excessive consumption.
Marissa has shown her great passion for sustainable design and production, and I am convinced that, as with Ji Won Choi the year before, we have discovered another new and rising star about sustainable design.
Why is the Amendment x YOOX collection sustainable?
F.M: With this collection, Marissa focused on improving the beauty of everyday staples and extending their functionality. The collection includes transformable items: with the use of zippers, jeans can be transformed into a jacket, while a sweatshirt can reinvent itself in the form of sweatpants, thus promoting a more functional wardrobe.
About materials, all garments are entirely made of organic fabrics, with100% certified organic cotton. Denim has also undergone a limited number of washing methods and a new laser treatment for its aged appearance instead of chemical methods, harmful for health or for the environment.
Originally published on L'Officiel