We don’t often talk fashion on this blog. That’s changing today for a very special reason: Livia Firth, creative director of Eco-Age and co-founder of the Green Carpet Challenge, has granted us an exclusive interview. Early this month, the Gucci for the Green Carpet Challenge handbag collection was launched during Paris Fashion Week; the handbags are the first-ever products made with leather from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ ranches.
What inspired you to start Eco-Age?
It was my brother Nicola Giuggioli’s idea a few years ago.
How has it evolved over time?
When we started the business in January 2007 it was a retailer on the high street selling design-driven home products and offering consultancy service for home owners who were interested in “greening up” their houses. Today, Eco-Age is a consultancy company specializing in enabling businesses to achieve growth and add value through sustainability–we have a wide array of clients both in the fashion and in the corporate world.
Tell us about the Green Carpet Challenge.
British journalist Lucy Siegle challenged me to wear only eco-friendly gowns on the red carpets when Colin received the Golden Globe nomination for Tom Ford’s A Single Man. We started it as a trial and it became so successful that today we are working with all the big fashion houses and working deep in the supply chain.
We don’t normally think of the big fashion houses being eco-friendly. Why did you approach Gucci with this idea?
We wanted to work with Gucci for few reasons. A lot of Brazilian leather arrives in Italy, is stamped “Made in Italy” after the tanning process and used by many fashion houses that are not aware of its real provenance. Gucci is an iconic brand, especially for leather products, so it was the perfect partner for creating a fully traceable and “clean” new supply chain. Moreover, they are part of PPR group, which started addressing sustainability few years ago when Mr. Pinault created PPR Home. Gucci’s CSR department is strong and serious, their factories in Florence we visited few times, so they were the perfect partner for this.
Did you think they’d be interested?
I was working with Frida already on The Green Carpet Challenge so it was a natural step.
You are clearly passionate about green issues. How much involvement have you personally had with the creation of the Gucci for the Green Carpet Challenge handbag?
I followed the project every step of the way–working closely with both Dr. Nathalie Walker at NWF and Ms. Rossella Ravagli, head of CSR, at Gucci.
What has the reaction been to the bags?
[They have been] a huge success!
The bags are made of leather sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified ranches, meaning that the leather has been produced in a way that benefits the environment and farming communities, while promoting the humane treatment of livestock. How much did you know about the Rainforest Alliance before this venture?
I knew them and what they were doing but never had the pleasure of working closely with them. It has been a great adventure and hopefully just the beginning of many more to do together!
What next for Eco-Age and the Green Carpet Challenge?
We are announcing another big project at the Cannes Film Festival in May. I can’t reveal anything now but watch out for it!
Did you know that over 245,000 metric tons of coffee is produced on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms? Being Italian, how important is coffee to you?
Coffee is very important–not only for Italians–but for world trade, too. Colin and I have been very involved in coffee trading for many years; our first ever Oxfam trip was in Ethiopia to visit the coffee farmers! So I look forward to visiting the Rainforest Alliance Certified farms too!
Many thanks to Livia Firth for taking the time to chat with us!