My passion for eco-printing and natural dyeing was born a couple of years ago when my friend Michela Pasini of Rosso di Robbia introduced me to these techniques. She visited Navelli (Italy), the small town where my parents live to run a workshop on eco-printing. My mum was the organizer of this workshop and, as I happened to be there on holiday, I simply decided to tag along and help out. I didn't imagine that this workshop would change so much the course of my life. In this workshop, I was astonished to see what can be done using only natural resources. Michela had also made clear that she only uses natural materials that are environmentally friendly. She avoids also throwing away water; rather she tends to re-use it from one textile-printing project to another. I only then realised how much I never thought about the colours that are used to dye and print on our clothes. Dyeing and printing with natural materials represents the artisan way of doing things as opposed to the use of synthetic, often toxic colours that then go back in great quantities into the water cycle. The colours on our clothes are for too often something that we just take for granted.
I stumbled across eco-printing and natural dyeing at a time when I had just left a job role in the fashion retail industry. As a retail manager and previously a retail assistant, for ten years I had helped customers buy mass-produced fashion. So when I discovered this new world I suddenly felt a sense of horror. I started doing some research and became increasingly interested in campaigns such as the Fashion Revolution Day. I then realised how I wanted to distance myself from our frantic consumerist culture and follow a different path by combining my interests in eco fashion and in more niche realities such as eco-printing.
I see eco-printing as a symbol of the many potential alternatives, a new gamma of colours through which I could see the world in a different way. I stopped looking forward to the latest commercial trends pushed on me by millions of pounds of advertising campaigns and started instead to look for small, ecological brands and campaigning projects.
As part of this process of discovery, I found a thriving community that fuels this movement for change. Every day I come across new designers, artisans, small businesses and social entrepreneurs for whom environmental sustainability is the key guiding ethos of their work. They literally set up their businesses, their source of livelihood, to raise awareness of these important issues and work tirelessly to change our attitudes to consumption. This I found both admirable and innovative.
It is not uncommon to come across people who do eco-printing and natural dyeing who also mend, upcycle, reclaim, recycle, source organic and/or locally because they are mindful of their impact on the earth. Eco-printing is a sustainable alternative commonly combined to a different way to view our wardrobe: choosing clothes based on their durability, reinventing old clothes into something new and passing on clothes through the generations. These humble practices seem excruciatingly 'old' in the mainstream world of fashion, however my point is that the best creative output sometimes comes with the constraints that designers and consumers put on themselves when looking at the complete life cycle of a product.
After considering all these issues, I became enthusiastic again about a world that I had become increasingly disenchanted about over the years. I was so exhausted by the excessive focus on increasing targets that I had forgotten why I loved fashion in the first place. Fashion was initially for me a way of making a statement, of being part of a community at the borderline between art and self-expression. So when I found this drive again, I decided to tell the stories of the people who are involved in this change in an original and engaging way. This is when I co-founded No Serial Number together with my family.
The magazine is the result of my realisation that I couldn't go back to work in a big shopping centre selling fast fashion. As a family, we aim to combine our skills to contribute to changing the way people think about themselves as designers and shoppers. I believe this promotional work is essential at this time. The work is very hard because we are self-funding the entire project and resources are scarce. However we have been delighted by the positive response and growth in followers. We have various projects on the pipeline at the moment, we want to continue to develop our e-magazine and also make documentaries and e-books about different topics and we hope in the near future to organize awareness raising events as well.
No Serial Number is a new seasonal digital magazine dedicated entirely to eco conscious and heritage craft, fashion and design. The Autumn Issue of the magazine has just been released, it can be found online here: http://www.noserialnumber.com/e-magazine. We give free access to the e-magazine to all who subscribe to our newsletter. Readers can also decide to support our work and purchase a yearly subscription of the magazine for just less than £4.