68. In­sti­tuto-E

The Hand of Fashion - - CON­TENTS - In­ter­view

Maryjo Cartier: Can you briefly de­scribe the phi­los­o­phy be­hind In­sti­tuto-E? Nina Braga: In­sti­tuto-E be­lieves shar­ing in­for­ma­tion is the first step to hu­man de­vel­op­ment. Our char­ac­ter­is­tic is that we use an al­ter­na­tive mul­ti­me­dia lan­guage to direct so­ci­ety’s en­ergy and guide it to pro­tect our bio­di­ver­sity, right to in­for­ma­tion and ed­u­ca­tion, as well as his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural her­itage. In­sti­tuto-E’s mis­sion is to change and po­si­tion Brazil as a lead­ing coun­try for sus­tain­able hu­man de­vel­op­ment by es­tab­lish­ing a net­work that strength­ens the syn­er­gies be­tween dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives and ac­tors in the so­ci­ety. Like the Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive. What is your role at In­sti­tuto-E? I am the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor since 2007. My re­spon­si­bil­ity is to man­age in­sti­tu­tional re­la­tion­ships as well as ev­ery day is­sues. An im­por­tant ac­tiv­ity in my job is to sup­port the Pres­i­dent of In­sti­tuto-E, M. Oskar Met­savaht, also a UNESCO Good­will Am­bas­sador, in his ad­vo­cacy to­wards a new par­a­digm for sus­tain­abil­ity. Our goal is to demon­strate the im­por­tance of the eco agenda with the cre­ative econ­omy’s agenda. In­sti­tuto-E is a pioneer of sus­tain­abil­ity - what have been your suc­cesses and what chal­lenges have you en­coun­tered? Suc­cesses: One of our core projects is E-Fab­rics through which we iden­tify sus­tain­able raw ma­te­ri­als that can be used by the tex­tile in­dus­try and fash­ion sup­ply chain with the ob­jec­tive of cre­at­ing a con­scious con­sumer cul­ture. It also pro­motes im­pact study on the pro­duc­tion process, preser­va­tion of di­ver­sity and so­cial re­la­tions with com­mu­ni­ties, in­creas­ing in­comes and gen­er­at­ing de­sign prod­ucts. The map­ping of E-Fab­rics was de­vel­oped with pri­vate com­pa­nies, aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions and re­search cen­ters. This project won prizes and led to many other projects, for ex­am­ple a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Ital­ian Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment, Land and Sea (IMELS) named ‘Traces’ and ‘Wa­ter Traces’. Traces tracks the car­bon, wa­ter and so­cial foot­print of ten prod­ucts - sus­tain­able and non sus­tain­able - used by our part­ner Osklen. We also have the e-ay­iti project, de­vel­oped with the Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive, through which we high­light how de­sign has to re­late to ethics. Aes­thetic and Ethics must be united, while cre­ativ­ity is a tool to em­power lo­cal groups’ knowl­edge and en­able to them ac­quire new abil­i­ties. Chal­lenges: We faced many chal­lenges, for ex­am­ple peo­ple mis­read­ing our con­cept. We be­lieve the mar­ket is cru­cial in what we do; un­for­tu­nately many peo­ple still be­lieve that char­ity is a so­lu­tion to many prob­lems. For us, char­ity is an out­dated con­cept. An­other chal­lenge is to be based in a coun­try where sus­tain­abil­ity is not very val­ued by the public. Be­cause of this it can be quite a chal­lenge to com­mu­ni­cate – and suc­cess­fully con­vey the mes­sage– on the added value of sus­tain­abil­ity. This is why we put so much em­pha­sis on the story telling be­hind the prod­uct. How would you de­fine Brazil’s re­la­tion­ship with sus­tain­abil­ity? Am­bigu­ous. Brazil­ians love the im­men­sity and the

di­verse bio­di­ver­sity our coun­try is lucky to host, but tend to see it as a never-end­ing abun­dance. Con­se­quently, we do not use our re­sources ra­tio­nally, and we have been fac­ing prob­lems like a wa­ter sup­ply cri­sis in our big­gest city, al­though we have one of the world’s largest wa­ter sources! We also have to deal with the old-fash­ioned con­cept that sus­tain­abil­ity is trans­ver­sal and en­com­passes ev­ery as­pect of hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties. Our gov­ern­ment of­ten places the poverty erad­i­ca­tion agenda as the pri­mary con­cern, which is a ma­jor is­sue, yet so­cial and eco­log­i­cal crises are in­ter­con­nected, not sep­a­rated.

But lit­tle by lit­tle, day by day, the num­ber of peo­ple con­cerned with sus­tain­abil­ity is in­creas­ing. Not a ma­jor­ity, nor has it be­come a public pol­icy, but there is a gen­eral awak­en­ing to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity is­sues. Our hope is that the aware­ness will be­come so sig­nif­i­cant that this re­gret­table sce­nario will change in time to avoid los­ing our price­less nat­u­ral her­itage. We are happy and proud to say that In­sti­tuto–E is help­ing to change the en­vi­ron­men­tal out­look in Brazil. Can you ex­plain the strong part­ner­ship be­tween In­sti­tuto-E and Osklen? The In­sti­tuto-E’s pres­i­dent and founder is also the cre­ative di­rec­tor of Osklen, a bench­mark in the fash­ion in­dus­try. Since the found­ing of the In­sti­tuto-E we are proud to have built a strong part­ner­ship with Osklen, who sup­ports and serves as an ex­cel­lent plat­form to show­case some of our main projects like E-Fab­rics and e–ay­iti.

But our work on sus­tain­abil­ity ex­tends to more brands: we share our re­search on sus­tain­able prod­ucts or raw ma­te­ri­als with other fash­ion brands in­ter­ested in be­com­ing more so­cio-eco-friendly. In the past, we have de­vel­oped projects with part­ners that did not in­volve Osklen. Yet many peo­ple mis­tak­enly as­so­ciate all In­sti­tuto-E’s projects di­rectly with Osklen. Un­for­tu­nately this leads to brands de­clin­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions, which is a shame. In­sti­tuto-E does not “be­long“to Osklen: we are part­ners and we re­ceive roy­al­ties as their con­sul­tants in so­cial en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives, but our fund­ing also comes from other sources, both from the public and pri­vate sec­tor. Can you tell us about the e-ay­iti col­lec­tion that In­sti­tuto-E pro­duce in part­ner­ship with Osklen and the Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive in Haiti? The Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive’s team, Si­mone Cipri­ani and Chloé Mukai, were in­tro­duced to the E-Fab­ric project dur­ing the Rio+20 con­fer­ence in 2012. Im­me­di­ately, EFI un­der­stood that E-Fab­rics was an ini­tia­tive that could gen­er­ate in­come and so­cial in­clu­sion in Haiti, where they were work­ing at the time. As Di­rec­tor of In­sti­tuto-E, I was in­vited to visit Haiti in search of ma­te­ri­als that could be worked by lo­cal ar­ti­sans and trans­formed into fash­ion pieces.

In June 2012 I brought back the re­sults of the re­search con­ducted with var­i­ous re-used ma­te­ri­als, which were trans­formed into fash­ion ac­ces­sories such as neck­laces, pen­dants and bracelets. This was the first e-ay­iti line. De­vel­oped by the Osklen de­signer Ana Beat­riz, the col­lec­tion re­flected the sim­ple and pure style of Osklen. Each piece was pro­duced by Haitian ar­ti­sans from the Co­op­er­a­tive des Ate­liers d’Art de Cité Soleil, un­der the direct su­per­vi­sion of the Eth­i­cal Fash­ion Ini­tia­tive, cre­at­ing a source of in­come for the pro­duc­ers. Ma­te­ri­als in­cluded coloured tele­phone wires, wrought iron, silk wires and ce­ment bags. The en­tire e-ay­iti (“Haiti” in Cre­ole) col­lec­tion was en­graved with the word “hope” in Por­tuguese, French, English, Cre­ole and Braille and are avail­able in Osklen stores in Brazil and in the USA. They sold well and Osklen even placed a re­peat or­der!

Thanks to this part­ner­ship, Ana Beat­riz has been to Port-au-Prince twice to train the ar­ti­sans. Now, our goal is to es­tab­lish a per­ma­nent sup­ply chain whereby there is a con­stant de­mand from Osklen, which in turn gen­er­ates a steady flow of in­come for the Haitian ar­ti­sans in­volved. Cur­rently, new ma­te­ri­als avail­able in Haiti are be­ing tested and our sec­ond line will be ready at the be­gin­ning of 2015.

“Our goal is to demon­strate the im­por­tance of the eco agenda with the cre­ative econ­omy’s agenda”

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