“This is our first step on the sustainability road”, Liu Jo CEO Marco Marchi said of the brand’s new Better Denim collection. As many other fashion brands, the Italian label is exploring the best ways to make its operations more and more sustainable in the years to come. FashionUnited spoke to the CEO to learn more about the new collection -- and the steps to take next.
Why is Liu Jo only taking its “first step towards sustainability” now? What was the reason for this decision?
It is evident that environmental issues are more important now than ever before and we -- as citizens but, in my case, also as an entrepreneur -- can’t afford to ignore what’s happening to our planet anymore. Liu Jo has been worried about these issues for quite some time, which is why we have challenged ourselves to make an eco-friendly denim capsule collection for the Fall/Winter 2019 season. The collection will hit the stores from the next season and we’re very proud of it. I think everybody should do their best to reduce their impact on the environment... Within their power, of course, but the protection of our planet can’t be denied anymore.
Why did the brand choose denim to be the first category to go through such changes?
Denim is the product Liu Jo is best known for internationally. It’s the category that best defines the brand’s DNA. Besides, it’s the most polluting product in our portfolio when it comes to the production process, a lot more than others. So, we think starting out with a denim capsule collection sends a strong message about the sustainability issue and how this related to our values as a company. The capsule collection includes 13 styles for women and represents 10 percent of the entire Liu Jo denim assortment.
What makes the collection sustainable?
When developing the Better Denim capsule collection, we looked into every detail of the production process. We were lucky to have Candiani, an industry leader in this regard, to help us out in this project. Together, we’ve developed a product using the Kitotex technology, which drastically reduces water, chemicals and energy usage. In addition, we’ve used Candiani’s Indigo Juice technology, which reduces water and energy use even more during the washing process, without compromising the quality of the washing or damaging the product. The labels and packaging were also developed with sustainability in mind, which goes to show how comprehensive and well-structured this project is”.
The collection includes five styles which were classified as “brand icons”. Which styles are those?
We’ve worked with some of out most iconic denim styles: Divine, Ideal, Magnetic, Fabulous and Cute. They are basically skinny, slim and mom fits which can be regular or high-waisted.
Does Liu Jo plan to make its entire denim line sustainable in the future?
It’s too early to say, but we would surely like to do that in the long run. We hope to increase the percentage of sustainable items with each new season.
Any other plans to make the company more sustainable?
Our path towards sustainability will surely impact all our products and collections. We want to make this project even bigger by making eco-friendly capsule collections in all of our best performing categories in the next seasons. In addition, we find that sustainability involves the entire production chain, that’s why we’re working on ditching plastic bags in favor of those made from recycled paper. Our tags will also only be made from recycled or organic materials, whenever possible. We intend to make these changes gradually, step by step, so that our impact on the environment can be reduced in a way that fits the Liu Jo brand.
How do you expect the new collection to be received in each of the countries where you operate? Where do you see the biggest demand?
Northern Europe (Belgium, Holland and maybe even Austria) definitely has the most curious consumers, they usually react with a lot of interest. So far, while selling the collection to wholesalers, we’ve also noticed a lot of interest from Italy. Last but not least, we intend to promote the brand a lot in France and Germany, two countries that are very enthusiastic about our brand and where Liu Jo is known for the quality of its denim.
What are Liu Jo’s sustainability goals for the short and long terms?
We intend to gradually monitor and improve not only our environmental impact, but our social impact as well. For example, we expect to get the SA8000 certification of safe working conditions by the end of 2019, not only for our own employees but the employees of our suppliers, as we believe that to be essential. In the next five years, we’ll also focus on making a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), certified by an independent organization, for all our sustainable products, in order to confirm our dedication throughout our products’ entire life cycle. Lastly, Liu Jo will team up with independent non-profit organizations so they can help and support our next steps in this process.
Liu Jo is not the only brand looking to become more sustainable. Do you think even more fashion companies should take action?
As I said, sustainability is an issue that can no longer be ignored. The fashion industry, actually all industries, should be aware of that and improve their operations. So, yes, all sustainable initiatives in fashion are welcome, as the fashion industry is known to be one of the most polluting in the world. More awareness about this problem can only be good for the industry, the consumers and the planet.
This article was originally published in Dutch by FashionUnited.nl. Translated and edited in English by Marjorie van Elven.
Pictures: courtesy of Liu Jo