Art for Earth, a call for the transition to a sustainable fashion industry

On the occasion of Ermenegildo Zegna XXX Winter 2020 Fashion Show entitled #usethexisting, the installation “Art for Earth” by Anne Patterson has been exposed so to address consumer’s attention to a more sustainable and ethical behaviour in the fashion world.

The exposition was open to the public from the 13th to the 31st of January. The work was commissioned by the fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna in occasion of the Winter Fashion Show. The name of the installation, Art for Earth, designed by the American artist Anne Patterson, draws the attention to the increasing damages caused to the environment by the fashion industry since the phenomena of fast fashion and the era of consumerism took over. The artwork is made by thousands of tapes of recycled fabric, to underline the company’s aversion to waste, to consumer and observers. This immersive installation was admired by visitors who were able to interact with the artwork and become an integral part of it so to be caught by the message that is the very purpose of the work: become responsible consumers and citizens for the Earth on which we live and for future generations: #usethexisting in a creative way, regenerate instead of buying compulsively. We need to start appreciating more what we have instead of continuously desire what we don’t.

The fashion industry accounts for 4% of the Italian GDP and the global clothing production has more than doubled in the last 20 years[1]. Greenpeace estimates that, if sales have risen from 1 trillion dollars in 2002 to 1.8 trillion in 2015,[2] in 2025 they will reach 2.1 trillion[3]. Additionally, about 24% of Italians purchase clothing over their own economic capacities[4]. Therefore, these trends confirm one the one hand an increase in sales caused by the phenomenon of fast fashion, and on the other hand, an increase in the “Made in Italy” shopping by foreign consumers. Fashion represents the emblematic sector for Italy in the world. The challenges that many brands and textile producers are constantly faced to is to find alternative ways to revive the very famous Italian’ craftsmanship so to maintain sales constant, without causing further damage to the environment or future generations. Eco-friendly fabrics, clean-up days, circular economy, innovation and transparency are the cardinal points needed to face these challenges and to stand out from all those big companies that deceive customers with commercial tactics to build an Eco-friendly image of themselves, hiding behaviours that are not sustainable at all.

The high-fashion industry is engaging itself in subverting this propensity to consume and waste. This is the case of Pitti Uomo and Milanounica, events that have chosen to dedicate this year editions to the issue of sustainability. Pitti Uomo was inaugurated with a video of Prince Charles of England to underline the commitment to an increasingly sustainable fashion and to promote the campaign for wool, a project launched in 2010 to promote pure wool, encouraging breeders, retailers and designers to collaborate for a common cause. MilanoUnica also has selected the theme “Ecorotica”, combining the commitment to sustainability with the pursuit of pleasure, two fundamental characteristics in our society.

The collaboration between Zegna and Anne Patterson is one of many examples of sustainable initiatives in the fashion world. Indeed, the collaboration between a company that boasts several years of innovation in sustainable fashion and an artist who commits her artwork to combat waste of fabrics and other recyclable materials does not simply impact the observer, but aims to let the spectators dive into the artwork and be overwhelmed  by a sense of responsibility that can hopefully encourage changes in everyday choices.

Pushed by the urgency to act and inspired by the commitment of start-ups and associations all over Italy, the LabGov EDU team will address the topic of sustainable fashion as part of its soft skill course, with the desire to generate, starting from the university environment, a first engine of change promoting the role played by students as of  “sustainable fashion’ ambassadors’. More specifically, the Clinic will enhance  cooperation so to connect different urban stakeholders: public, private, social, cognitive (universities and schools) and above all the urban community. Fundamental is to consider the trends of  the circular and new sustainable economies, therefore, we believe it is necessary to “re-think the topic of sustainable fashion” counting on the experience of many start-ups which are developing fabrics from regenerated raw materials and local associations specialised to give a rebirth to clothes that were donated during the Luiss Christmas winter market “Magic City”. The Laboratory will start on friday 14th and updates will be constantly uploaded on the instagram page @labgov.city [5]


[1]   https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/la-moda-italiana-vale-4percento-pil-ma-cresce-meno-griffe-francesi-AEtYT1zD

[2] https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/6969/fashion-at-the-crossroads/

[3] https://www.greenpeace.org/international/publication/6969/fashion-at-the-crossroads/

[4] http://www.the-newsroom.it

[5] https://instagram.com/labgov.city?igshid=16ldfbczypq1p