Fashion and sustainability: interview with Lorenzo Cantoni

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Professor Lorenzo Cantoni, Director of the Institute of Digital Technologies for Communication (ITDxC) and of the Master in Digital Fashion Communication at USI, shares his views in an interview with journalist Ivan Campari in the magazine La Borsa della Spesa (the magazine of the Consumers’ Association in Ticino) on the subject of fashion sustainability and the need for greater awareness in this sector.

We buy too many clothes, of poor quality and we get rid of them easily. The first question for Prof. Cantoni is precisely about this vicious circle, which the journalist asked to understand the reasons and ways to avoid it. Cantoni identifies the reasons on the one hand in the increase in demand - due to a more marked care of one’s look, also driven by the greater sharing on social media of images and videos to show a certain image of oneself - and on the other hand in the phenomenon of fast-fashion, which increases and leads to the purchase of low-cost products, often produced in areas where workers’ rights are not respected. How to solve this lack of sustainability? "Education can play a decisive role, both in the family and at school. In recent decades, for example, schools have done much to increase the awareness of the younger generations (and their families) about food education. Perhaps it is also time to put the world of fashion on the agenda: from materials to production, from history to culture, from how to wash to how to repair and recycle," says Cantoni.

The increase in online shopping is also discussed in the interview: "While digital communication can be a driver for consumerism, it can also help to achieve different lifestyles. For example, by supporting the exchange or sale of used clothing, recycling, or even renting" explains Cantons, practices that were once common even when the Internet was not accessible. Attention to the environmental cost of online shopping is another important awareness-raising factor, which could be reduced by encouraging people to try on clothes in physical stores. Digital technologies play an important role in finding solutions that are more efficient: "for example, at USI we are studying how digital technologies can help to personalise the offer, or how they can include the sense of touch (’haptic’ technologies) and help to anticipate more faithfully the experience of touching the garment we bought online," Cantoni continues.

(source: "La Borsa della Spesa. Periodico dell’Associazione consumatrici e consumatori della Svizzera italiana", 1.2020, pag. 19)

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