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Natura Manifesta: Etro SS19’ Menswear

Sustainability is not a slogan, it’s a story. The life of a garment doesn’t begin when it catches the first glare of the runway’s spotlight. It starts with the fibre, the materials, the processes, the

Sustainability is not a slogan, it’s a story. The life of a garment doesn’t begin when it catches the first glare of the runway’s spotlight. It starts with the fibre, the materials, the processes, the hands that guide it under the bobbing tip of the threaded needle. Did you know that a single kilogram of cotton takes 20,000 litres of water to produce? That the same amount of hemp requires only 500? Etro’s spring summer collection begins here- with the seed of sustainability. Starting from the beginning: natural fibres, vegetable dyes and local production have shaped a collection beholden to the visual cultures of Southeast Asia, Africa and Japan. Deeply rich patterns were inspired by the complex motifs of Iban cloth from Borneo, Batik dyed fabrics from Indonesia and colourful West African wax prints. Bamboo, a pillar of the collection, is explored for its connection to Japanese martial arts traditions.

The heart of the collection is a heavily researched assembly of materials. While familiar fabrics make an appearance- relaxed linens, buttery calfskin and light-as-air organic cotton- sustainable textiles take centre stage. Crumpled, high-waisted trousers in pale shades are derived from fibrous stalks of the nettle plant. Jute, the course, dust-coloured fibre that makes up hessian bags is spun tapestry-like alongside hemp into jacquard jackets. Raffia, made from palm trees and dyed vibrant shades of coral and gold, is artfully woven on heavy duty parkas and trim bombers. Textiles are purposefully imperfect: suffused with scars and imperfections left in place from the weaving process. Where possible, natural dyes like beetroot and coffee were used to render the brilliant pigments found throughout the collection. A sophisticated palette ranging from soft rose, dusty teal, celery green, burnt orange, iridescent magenta and royal blue moves toward a spectrum of cool, cloud-like whites and pale greys.

Silhouettes are soft and flexible, moving in tune with the body and designed to age with dignity. Suiting is cut generously: long, double breasted blazers with peaked lapels, wide trousers with deep pleats, built in belting on trousers that references 1930-era styles. Infinitely refined jacquard creates an almost tie-dye effect on stiff floral bomber jackets woven tightly to resist water. Slippery windbreakers are elevated by attaching loosely knit vests and technical netting. Obi-style belts, borrowed from traditional Japanese tailoring, refine otherwise streamlined jackets, while Etro’s iconic psychedelic paisley forms spread over silk twill Haori-inspired coats. The bamboo motif, an integral part of this collection, is woven into elegant suiting and layered over with embroidered panels. Embellishment is customarily lush: inky black dinner jackets glimmer with rich beading, hand-dyed ribbons edge pressed trousers, long suede fringe is applied to jackets and shirts, and patchwork shirting in ethereal crepe silk is edged with beaded and metal thread.

Accessories are exquisitely conceived. Espadrilles are loosely braided in the style of Viennese canework, while simple leather loafers are printed in a snakeskin and crocodile motif, thus, as we usually do, leaving the animal out of the process. Detailing is handcrafted down to the most minute aspect: buttons are carved in intricate, kaleidoscopic patterns. Bronze coloured bolo ties, enamel pins in the shape of tropical birds and richly embroidered canvas backpacks complete a deeply nuanced collection.

Discover Natura Manifesta, by Etro, here.

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