Andrea Rosso: The Story Behind Diesel’s Sustainable Look For The GCFA, Italia 2020

For the past three years, the GCFAs have seen celebrities and designers alike put the best of sustainable fashion on the green carpet. Yet with 2020 prompting us all to do things a little differently, guests from around the globe have instead showcased their looks from afar. A true show of togetherness despite the distance, the designs now grace the first ever digital green carpet.

Diesel’s Sustainability Ambassador and Upcycling Artistic Director Andrea Rosso tells us more about this year’s upcycled look worn by Yovanna Ventura.

For the last three years, Diesel’s approach to green carpet dressing has seamlessly combined its iconic lifestyle-centric mood with the innovative ethos that lies at the very heart of the brand.

Its fresh take on the little black dress, worn by Tina Kunakey to the Green Carpet Fashion Awards in 2018, was made from regenerated cotton denim and natural indigo. The look even employed a technique called ‘Ice Blasting’ to achieve the frayed edges of the fabric without generating any secondary waste or chemical residue. One year later in 2019, it was Barbara Palvin to represent the brand on the green carpet, in a white denim engineered tuxedo created from Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) cotton and certified organic Italian silk.

For the first ever digital green carpet, Diesel have once again combined past and future, going back to archives and offcuts to create an upcycled outfit for Yovanna Ventura. A long souvenir jacket-come-dress in LENZING™ ECOVERO™ viscose and LENZING™ Tencel™ lyocell, the look features a collection of iconic embroideries from the past decades of Diesel.

“I am truly fascinated by the idea that we can use our creativity to reinvent, and how we can create new garments by simply starting with what we already have,” describes Diesel’s Sustainability Ambassador and Upcycling Artistic Director Andrea Rosso, who incorporated upcycling into brand’s offering with the launch of the DIESEL UPCYCLING FOR 55DSL collection earlier this year.

We caught up with Rosso about designing from waste, Diesel’s new ‘For Responsible Living’ sustainability strategy, and the steps the brand is taking to reduce its environmental impact; from lowing the use of water and chemicals in its collections, to using photovoltaic energy in its HQ.

Image: Tina Kunakey wears a Diesel regenerated cotton denim and natural indigo dress for the GCFA 2018
Image: Initial sketch of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) denim suit made for the GCFAs 2019
Image: Barbara Palvin wears Diesel at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards 2019

What does the Green Carpet Challenge mean to you?

This challenge can have different meanings; it all depends on our sense of responsibility towards our Earth and its communities. Some people might be moved because of their environmental consciousness, or because they believe that we can be ethical in our actions. The deep meaning for me is that we all can work together, bringing our different views to the table and becoming change agents in finding solutions that will improve the fashion system.  

Why did you choose to work with upcycled materials for this design?

We can reduce the footprint of a product just by reusing items that otherwise would be considered as waste, such as old samples or damaged items. I think this can prove to be one good example of how the fashion industry can reconceive its system. 

Image: Renzo and Andrea Rosso at the launch of the 'DIESEL UPCYCLING FOR 55DSL' collection during Milan Fashion Week

What challenges does designing with upcycled materials pose when creating a red carpet look? Do you find that using fabrics that are already in existence encourages you to think outside of the box?

There are certainly challenges in creating upcycled collections, but I see the full potential of this design strategy. Creating something new from something already existing and giving it an upscaled twist is a creative process that our design team love to do. 

I think that many items can be created using already existing materials, and you know what the funny thing is? Nobody can actually spot the difference between upcycled and new materials.

Earlier this year, Diesel launched its ‘For Responsible Living’ strategy. How does this look represent that ethos?

From an Upcycling perspective, reusing deadstock fabrics and unused trims is in line with our “BE THE ALTERNATIVE” pillar commitment, which is to create more responsible products and packaging by seeking out low impact materials and innovative techniques, as well as investing in research and development to continually push the boundaries for our creations. 

So, what could be more in line with this commitment than giving new value to materials and products that otherwise would remain unused or even discarded?

Image: An upcycled look from the 'DIESEL UPCYCLING FOR 55DSL' collection
Image: Yovanna Ventura wears Diesel on the digital green carpet for the GCFAs 2020
Image: An upcycled look from the 'DIESEL UPCYCLING FOR 55DSL' collection

What other steps is Diesel taking to lower its environmental impact, beyond the Green Carpet Challenge?

At Diesel we always want to be brave, and we have challenged ourselves in many areas of our business since the launch of ‘For Responsible Living.’ We are working with all our product and production teams to ensure we minimise the impacts of our materials by defining guidelines that will enable our teams to make the best decisions, starting with cotton. In March, we became part of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). We are also working with our suppliers to ensure that we use the most innovative techniques that guarantee a lower usage of water and chemicals, and our Respectful Denim collection is a good example of such collaboration. 

But as a company we are not focusing on just products; within our HQ we have implemented several systems to reduce our environmental footprint, from photovoltaic and co-generation systems for energy, to the internal reuse of rainwater. 

Image: Eco-Age co-founders Nicola Giuggioli and Livia Firth with Renzo and Andrea Rosso at the launch of the 'For Responsible Living' sustainability strategy

In what ways do you think fashion can be a force for good in the world?

The fashion industry, apart from being global, has something that other industries don’t have, which is speed of reaction combined with the need to create something new and different. We should be using all the creative minds of the sector to solve the current problems that are putting our Earth and our futures at risk, and right now Diesel is committed to rising to the challenge to find innovative solutions in the most creative ways.

If you had one piece of advice for consumers or upcoming designers looking to adopt a more sustainable approach to fashion, what would it be?

I truly believe that nature should be our source of inspiration: we should mimic nature, where nothing is created or wasted, but everything is transformed. And the ones that understand nature the best are kids, so we should learn from them the purest and real ‘green’ education we need.