Not just any occasion, but World Environment Day was chosen by the Armani group to launch an innovative sustainability project: the cultivation of cotton according to regenerative agriculture practices in Puglia. The “Apulia Regenerative Cotton Project” is carried out in collaboration with the Fashion Task Force of the Sustainable Markets Initiative (chaired by Federico Marchetti, founder of Yoox) and with the Circular Bioeconomy Alliance, both founded by King Charles III, then Prince of Wales, and will be coordinated by the European Forestry Institute together with the Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economics Analysis (CREA) and Pretaterra.
The pilot project aims to develop an experimental cotton field according to the regenerative cropping system, therefore more respectful of natural cycles, to scientifically test and evaluate new ways of implementing sustainable cotton production in Italy. The aim is to demonstrate how it is possible to increase landscape diversity, soil fertility, water saving and ecosystem services linked to biodiversity, while producing cotton with a low environmental impact thanks to the use of agroforestry systems.
«In fashion everything starts from the material: my design comes from the choice of fabrics – declared Giorgio Armani -. And it was through experimentation and the use of non-traditional fabrics that I revolutionized fashion. But the textile industry is one of the production activities with the greatest impact on the planet: a problem that cannot be overlooked. Our commitment, together with the Sustainable Markets Initiative, is to promote positive change: it is a bold and innovative project that has a special meaning for me and for my company. Actively participating in the development of regenerative agroforestry cotton, moreover on the Italian territory, is an important step, which will also have a real impact on local communities. Regenerative fashion, from utopia that it was, is finally starting to take on tangible characteristics».
Puglia’s mild climate creates the ideal environment for a wide variety of agricultural crops and this project helps re-introduce a long tradition of cotton cultivation to the region, which dates back to the 12th century. After the initial cotton plantation on one hectare of land, started last May, starting from 2024 the cultivation will gradually expand to occupy a total agricultural area of five hectares. Over five years, this agricultural site will be among the first field experiments in Europe to test agroforestry cotton with alternative tree species and regenerative practices. Regular scientific reports will evaluate the properties of the cotton grown, as well as verify the environmental impact and production levels of the affected areas.
On the other hand, World Earth Day, last April 22, was the occasion for Ovs to launch the first T-shirt capsule collection made of cotton grown on the outskirts of Palermo, the result of a project launched in 2022 in collaboration with Cotone Organico of Sicily, which has brought back to life local cultivation techniques abandoned for over 50 years. The goal of the group, which will also finance a doctorate at the University of Catania dedicated to Italian cotton, is to produce over 100 tons in 2023.