During the last edition of Fashinnovation, a US global conference focused on fashion innovation, the final stage of the event was given to Alberto Candiani, the owner of Candiani Denim, and Steve Aoki, a two-time Grammy-nominated producer and DJ. While presenting their newest capsule collab (also read here), they discussed denim, fashion, sustainability and cross industry collaborations.
Fashinnovation was founded by Marcelo and Jordana Guimarães in 2018 and brings together international business leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs and fashion designers to inspire change within the industry.
Here are some key statements of Candiani’s and Aoki’s conversation...
...ABOUT THEIR FRIENDSHIP...
Steve Aoki (SA): Alberto and I have known each other over ten years. We traveled the world together, we have toured together, we’ve collaborated with music together and when we come together our energy is really strong and very natural for us in any form. I’ve gone to his mill back in 2012 and I just learned from the very, very beginning to the finished product. It was very, very exciting. Here we are eights years later and put together this fun collection.
Alberto Candiani (AC): Being efficient is the very first step you want to take if you want to be sustainable. So you don’t want to create waste but if you do you just want to make sure you want to recycle it. So I was telling Steve about this whole process and he was really impressed. So as we wanted to do something together we did try. Last year he also came to Milan and visited our store. He loved it and wanted to do something and not for commercial purposes, let’s just do something creative and fun.
SA: I wanted to know more from Alberto’s innovative ideas…. I liked the idea of upcycling something you wouldn’t wear re-purpose, reuse and bring it back to life. It’s almost like music making: you take samples that you might never use and you put them in with other samples like Lego pieces. This way you create something brand new from something you would have never used.
AC: We have to learn from the music industry in terms of excitement and engagement because you can only create a new type of demand if you offer genuine products. And the industry has kept waiting and waiting thinking there was no real demand for sustainable products. As Candiani we don’t offer sustainable products as the demand is there but as we want to create a different type of offer.
AC: It’s all about collaborations and friendship. It’s about unity because when you have two concepts you have to exchange them and make them interact...it’s the beginning of a creative process. In those last months we have been through darkness. In those hard times true creativity can show up and bring something very creative and artistic.
SA: When I learn about different topics or collaborate with an artist I approach that with no ego. When I work with Alberto I want to learn like a student and learn what he is doing with sustainable denim and what Candiani does from four generations. And Alberto is doing the same with me and learns about the world I’m in. It’s how we look at life. We constantly keep bridging two different worlds and different cultures and the diversity itself helps you be a better human being and it’s where you learn the most.
AC: Steve Aoki is a contemporary icon. He is the best guy to bring fashion into music and music into fashion. This is a great collaboration that speaks to a younger audience because Steve amplified the message and could finally recall an interest into sustainable innovation and a very alternative beautiful product.
SA: Whatever you buy–a song, a phone, a sweater or a piece of denim–you buy it because this relates to your life. Somewhere somehow a brand relates to your life. The story of the brand and of the item you buy connects to you and who you are as a person.
With music it’s the same. When there is music you like you share it with the group that loves the same kind of music and it’s extremely contagious and it grows into huge festivals and everyone experiences that together. Whether it’s a shirt or a song they are just stories that we live and breathe for. This conversation is connecting to music fans to people who love denim–whatever is culture, it’s all one and the same.
AC: I saw so many collaborations between brands and artists that were forced. I think that everything has to be real in order to have a truthful meaning. That was the spirit of our collab.
AC: I am obsessed with innovation, but today every innovation we want to bring in the product has to be sustainable. I cannot think of something innovative that is greener than what existed before. Key barriers in changing the industry are mostly mental. In the fabric business it’s very much “We’ve always done it in this way, this is the way and we keep doing it.” Which is a big mistake. We rather have to look at new fibers, at how you dye cotton, how much water you consume and contaminate.
AC: Before you were a successful businessman when you produced more and more and used more and more resources. Now you are a great businessman if you can keep your competitivity and success if you produce less.
...ABOUT POST-COVID...AC: It will take time before we reach a normalization. And it doesn’t necessarily mean we will go back to the old normality. During this different type of normality many people have changed and not always in a negative way. I think that this pandemic is making people think more and investigate about what they buy.
SA: I have a friend in Taiwan who is a DJ and she recently DJed in a club packed with people. In that country they registered no Covid-19 cases as they did very strict quarantine and have a general culture to wear a mask all the time. That’s awful but they are back to business and could go back to doing clubs and festivals. For instance, I have a show scheduled in September in Japan and hope I will do it as it will be my first event after this lockdown.