c.l.a.s.s. Discussing Transformation into the Next-Generation Sustainable Knowledge Economy

On the morning of June 4, the author attended a sharing session hosted by c.l.a.s.s., a fabric platform based in Milan, Italy, at the branch store of Spanish brand Ecoalf in Mitte, Berlin. This platform analyzes and observes the rise of a new generation of designers, consumers and supply chain patterns, and even how sustainable fashion can adjust its way forward in the future. This platform has also provided experience sharing since its inception in 2007. Facing the future Generation Z consumers, c.l.a.s.s. said, “Knowledge is power. Please take the knowledge route.”

Photo credited to Annie Wang
Ecoalf located in Berlin

First, let me mention about the venue of this event. The earliest batch of fabrics used by Ecoalf, a Spanish brand which was conceptualized in 2009 and founded in 2012, were made from PET bottles recycled in Taiwan. Later, the founder of this brand turned to his attention to observing the situation of the area where he came from, a seaside city in Spain. In order to search for usable “waste” using the same concept of PET bottle recycling, and eventually discovered fishing nets used by fishermen.

photo credited to Annie Wang
Yayoi, the store manager of Ecoalf in Berlin

According to Yayoi, the store manager of Ecoalf in Berlin , these fishing nets have to be replaced with new ones every five to six years. However, recycling them incurs costs, so most fishermen do not recycle them after using them till they have to be discarded, and sink them to the bottom of the sea. Therefore, the founder of Ecoalf discussed with local fishermen so that he could recycle these fishing nets. The fishermen not only did not need to pay for recycling them, but could also earn additional money, while garbage would not remain at the bottom of the sea. Why not? As a result, the number of fishermen currently participating in this effort has grown from three fishermen to over 3,000 fishermen. The Thai government even took the initiative to contact the brand after learning of this approach, in hopes that the brand can travel to Thailand and “collect” fishing nets. So far, the brand has developed over 300 types of fabrics using fishing net as a material. The success of a brand requires a little bit of luck, a little bit of creativity, and most importantly:Power of Observation.

photo credited to Annie Wang
Luca from c.l.a.s.s. in Milan, Italy

Three elements of the future sustainable in fashion industry: Design, responsibility, and innovation