The next wave of innovation for women’s clothing
Should we be expecting more from the clothes we buy? In piecing together my inquiry, I spoke to Nicola Peluso, a London based actor and entrepreneur who is in the midst of building her own sustainable fashion brand, Viatrix Adventurewear.
Global fashion production has more than doubled in the past 15 years: According to the Ellen McArther Foundation, the average consumer today buys 60% more clothes and keeps them for half as long. And, these purchasing habits have only stained the fashion industry, both in its environmental impact and its unethical labour practices. You can read more in this article defining sustainability to comprehend the severity of the problem:
I asked, why then did Nicola decide to populate the world with yet another clothing brand?
Interestingly, to solve this very problem by helping women extract more value from their clothes and limit the number of garments they purchase. The idea struck her in 2011 when she was invited to be part of the ‘Special Delegation’ to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or more popularly North Korea, for the Centennial Celebration of Kim Ill Sung, grandfather of the current supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.
The baggage restrictions on her flight from Beijing to Pyongyang via Air Koryo were restrictive and she struggled to find garments that would be appropriate for the “incredibly vague” itinerary North Korea had planned for visitors which extended from cocktail evenings, theatre outings, bowling, seaside barbecues, and mountain hiking.
“This made me realise that purpose and utility of womens clothing are completely lost in design, despite the world being literally littered with clothes”
This experience led her to question the overall architecture of women’s fashion: the purpose behind clothing, the materials used and the quantities produced; giving rise to Viatrix Adventurewear.
I second, women’s fashion has always been more about aesthetics than utility but I’m curious: how can this shift change women’s fashion?
Nicola, one of the youngest to study fashion design at the prestigious Istituto Marangoni in Milan, told me she’s designing for “versatility, comfort & convertibility”. She’s researching Viatrix’s debut collection — currently delayed due to the ongoing pandemic — with a spectrum of women travelers, from backpackers to jet-setters to produce clothes that “can be worn to trek through a jungle by day, and equally to a Michelin star restaurant by night”.
Her network which ranges from women working in conflict zones to aid providers in refugee camps to documentary filmmakers are all requesting for the same thing: comfortable clothes that have utility beyond aesthetics and appear professional.
Nicola’s tacking this challenge with innovation. She’s designing clothes that are modular; various elements can be attached or detached to extend purpose, functional; armed with cleverly concealed pockets and RFID technology to securely carry confidential documents, and comfortable; using bamboo and recycled nylon as sustainable materials with added anti-bug lining to protect against bacteria and virus in harsh environments.
I wanted to offer women the same opportunity to present themselves in a way that affords them confidence as well as functionality.
I sense a strong spirit of adventure in Nicola’s story and purpose so I’m intrigued, can her brand be an act of empowerment for women?
She almost instantaneously affirms. The brand itself is an expression of her lived experiences of adventure travel and interactions with an inspiring cohort of women. Nicola spent two weeks scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro, something she describes as “the most exhilarating, awe-inspiring experience” of her life. She vividly describes the pride and joy of reaching the summit, dancing with the team at Fisher camp, eating icicles off the Walter Furtwängler glacier and, exploring the streets of Arusha, the gateway city to Mt. Kilimanjaro.
She narrates an exciting tale from Tanzania where she convinced her guides to let her drive through the city streets — an act uncommon for women in the country. Throughout our conversation, Nicola describes many more instances where she is in an active effort to change patriarchal mindsets, Viatrix Adventurewear being her current artillery.
Ultimately, her efforts are aligned to make women feel more empowered: about their travels, work, and leisure. Clothing is her way of reaching out and providing that confidence and convenience to shift purchasing behaviors in women’s fashion.
As a consumer, I am sold to the notion of becoming more aware of our consumption habits, the utility we seek from our clothing and the opportunity to pave a brave new path for women beyond aesthetics. Viatrix is doing their bit to change the world, we can do ours.
If you’re part of a purposeful brand and want to share your story with Boketto Club, please feel free to write to me at email@example.com