Alexis Giannotti is paving the way with sustainable, luxury knitwear
Can fashion ever be sustainable? Alexis Giannotti, owner of Giannotti—a sustainable knitwear brand designed in Monaco (the tiny Mediterranean city-state on the French Riviera where he was born and raised) and made in Italy (where he spends his summers)—says the future of the fashion industry is, in fact, sustainable.
According to Business Insider, the fashion industry creates more carbon emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined. It produces 10 percent of human carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the ocean with microplastics. Giannotti says, “Change is possible in the fashion industry, and there are new ways of making things, so at Giannotti, we’re jumping into these new ways.”
Giannotti knitwear is crafted from natural, sustainably sourced fabrics that are made with both high-quality Merino wool, recycled coffee grinds, rice and cashmere. Dubbed Cloudlight—thanks to its ultra-soft touch and airy sensation—the fabric feels great on the skin and is easy on the ocean and the planet.
The 3-D knitting technology, crafted in a small family-owned facility in Italy, allows for an environmentally friendly production technique and a significant reduction in waste because every inch of the fabric is planned out. It’s what the founder says is the most sustainable fabric ever created—delivering unprecedented comfort from a single thread that’s both luxurious and designed to last.
We chatted with Alexis over the phone from his atelier in Monaco to find out about his innovative knitwear collection...
Alicia-Rae: What inspired you to create a sustainable brand?
Alexis Giannotti: Since childhood, I’ve surfed on the west coast of France, and snowboarded in Northern Italy, Austria and near my hometown of Monaco. My hobbies have always been outside in nature—either in the ocean or the forest.
With my previous fashion label Omogene, I used fabrics that were made with petroleum—something that I thought was required for functional sports apparel. Then I stumbled on a paper that outlined how the fashion industry has a tremendously negative impact on the ocean and on the planet. I started to investigate how I could continue to make clothing, but with a minimal impact on the planet. From there, I discovered the impact of microplastics, and how important it is to use natural, sustainable fibres. Then, microplastics were a well-kept secret in the industry that nobody talked about. Man-made fibres, mostly based on petroleum, were the norm. I began the search for fibres that are healthy and better for the health of our planet.
Alicia-Rae: Why knitwear?
Alexis Giannotti: To me, knitwear is the most human way of making clothing. It uses very old techniques that are very simple, yet still complex. It’s the first way humans ever made clothing and it has roots far back in history. Knitwear is also the least harmful way of making clothing on the planet and is built to last. It represents to me a thing that’s like wine—different types of fibres and materials are available only in certain parts of the world. Each part of the world has its own breed of sheep, with its own texture, and materials. It’s a world that is very unique and beautiful to explore.
Alicia-Rae: How did you decide what to create sustainable fibres from?
Alexis Giannotti: In the beginning, I thought cotton was a great fibre, but with more research, I found out it was, in fact, not good for the planet. Drinkable water is used to grow cotton plants and then pesticides are used. And once harvested, it has to be rewashed because of the pesticides, which end up in the soil. If you want beautiful, pristine white cotton, you need to bleach it then wash it again—that’s a lot of clear, drinkable water going to waste. I think it’s a beautiful thing to use new technology and to rediscover and learn that we don’t know a lot of things. It’s mind-blowing to me that it’s even possible to create fabric made of plant-based things, like rice and coffee, as well as Merino wool and recycled cashmere—giving fabrics a second life.
Alicia-Rae: Why sustainability?
Alexis Giannotti: We need to restore the natural balance of the planet. We need to rethink this entire industry and show that there are new ways and possibilities to continue having the same standard of quality as we have with man-made fabrics—but ones that are more durable and sustainable as well for the future of our planet—and that starts with taking care of the soil and the ocean. The truth is, if we continue to destroy biodiversity, we are really quickly going to be the next in line... it’s already happening. Water is going to be the next dramatic crisis that we’re going to face and it will be a disaster.
Alicia-Rae: How can people make more sustainable choices with their clothing?
Alexis Giannotti: Change will happen with action and information—and we better be good at making it sexy and cool because, at the end of the day, people aren’t buying clothes out of necessity, they are buying fashion for its appeal. If we want to see change, brands need to become incredibly good at communication—stating it on labels, on hang tags, on their websites—to remind people they’re making a great choice by buying a sustainable product. It’s all about communication. Most people buy clothing based on price, and if you don’t give them a great price with great value and make it in a sustainable way, they will never make the switch. At Giannotti, we’re trying to be very transparent, lowering the cost while keeping the quality and paying our staff fairly, allowing them to have a healthy, wealthy life. It’s a delicate balance between price, quality and communication.
My grandmother Betty used to say, instead of buying many cheap, small, kitschy things, wait a little while, save some money and buy something that’s beautiful, will last longer, and you’re truly going to enjoy wearing. Invest in quality and design and in things that are timeless.
Alicia-Rae: What does sustainability mean to you?
Alexis Giannotti: The word "sustainability" is quite widely used—but what it means to me is to be fair and to be good. Sustainability should be the standard for the industry going forward, rather than being just focused on money. Being sustainable means to be conscious about your decisions and to know the decisions you make are going to have a tremendous impact on things that you can see, and things you can’t see. It’s about being conscious about everything you do. Search and look for answers and be curious about everything.
Want to learn more about Giannotti? Check out the online shop here.