Valentina Curzi, art director and designer of RBRSL, an Italian sneaker brand whose name stays for "Rubber Soul", has won the Sustainability Award at the Tao Awards in Taormina, an international event dedicated to fashion, eco-friendly tourism and design. The designer who heads the streetwear-inspired footwear brand produced according to creative upcycling techniques will receive the award during the evening of Saturday, July 23, at the Teatro Antico at the Sicilian city.
On that occasion, the designer will also unveil a new sustainable sneaker model for s/s 2023. The new shoes are made by using an entirely handmade process. They have undergone a patented rubberizing process: after being treated, they are drowned in a special liquid rubber that, as it cools, incorporates the upper, forming a transparent shell. The project has the aim to set a strategy against disposable fashion and more: through the use of waste rubber from the sole, RBRSL can also offer paintings and lights characterised by a timeless and new aesthetic.
It was born from the sentence, which later became the brand's claim: "Every step that allows a man to cross a border, is a step into the future.-" With this idea in mind, I decided to combine different elements to create an object that can be worn for long, beyond seasons and usual categories of time and space.
Was it born as an eco-friendly project, or did it become so later?
No, it became so later. I felt the need to design new products following a "cradle to cradle" perspective and think about a shoe from its birth until its disposal, to eliminate manufacturing waste and integrate it within the creative process.
How important is sustainability for your projects, and for RBRSL in particular?
Increasingly, when we talk about sustainability, we aim to pursue projects that involve the balance between resource consumption and resource regeneration, but also the possibility of taking an action that can meet our needs without compromising the possibility for future generations to do the same.
Is RBRSL offering certified products?
The materials used for RBRSL's new project are sustainable cellulose, processed using the same processes as leather and produced by recovering and reusing scraps from the paper industry (such as empty cigarette packs, napkins, and other similar materials), while the sole is made through a patented process that includes waste materials.
We also produce paintings and lamps by reusing sole trimmings and castings. So, we can say that RBRSL adopts a circular economy model.
How will the brand evolve?
Certainly, sustainability will continue to be an indispensable driver to ferry RBRSL to new brand extension projects.
Would you like to add new product categories to the collection?
Yes, I would like to introduce new spin-offs within interior design, as I have a degree in interior architecture, and I would like to evolve the brand in this area as well, applying processes from footwear to decor objects.
Are new consumers really ready for sustainable fashion? Do you think they are ready to buy only such products in the future?
In general, consumers are interested in sustainable fashion - in fact, they are looking for it -, but they are not yet ready to make the economic effort it requires. What we can do is to make it possible in the immediate future.
How will their way of buying evolve?
We will take more care of the accessories in our possession, make more conscious choices, seek transparency of business processes, knowing that an ethical garment has an added value that can gratify us by limiting our volume of purchases.
Fast fashion has led us to frequent, low-cost purchases for garments with a short life span. Low cost actually always comes at a high price in terms of labor exploitation, reduced quality and unfortunately often environmental pollution. By granting a longer life to the quality accessories we buy, we can reduce the waste that would impact our planet. We are the inhabitants of earth, and it is up to us to take care of it, with knowledge, respect and a constant look to the future.