Interview: Alberto de Conti
March 24. 2018
Alberto De Conti is arguably the only biochemist that moved from genes to jeans. He began his career working on enzymatic applications for textiles in biotech labs and then joined the R&D group of Levi Strauss & Co. where he became Global Director of Business Development & Innovation. In January 2018, Rudolf Group tapped him to open a new division to develop product creativity according to advanced and responsible chemistry principles.

+ What will you focus on during your Transparency talk?

Somehow provocatively, transparency will be positioned as a means to an end and not necessarily as the answer to everything. In fact, suppose one had to choose between a world in which all products are completely disclosed and one in which all products are optimized for minimal health impact and maximum performance. What would one choose? 

+ Why is Transparency important?

Because an approach towards transparency gradually changes products. I have heard lots of stories from manufacturers who, simply by looking to find out what’s in their products and characterize the hazard levels of any chemicals, have found that asking questions leads to change.

+ What do you want the audience to take away from your presentation?

That businesses are responding to demand for chemical transparency, but there is a major point of discussion related to protection of IP and that not all chemistries are available for full disclosure.  

+ What type of response do you wish to receive from the audience?

The acknowledgment that there must be a minimum degree of disclosure (not necessarily complete) to which agreements, dealings, practices, and transactions are open to all for verification.

+ What company outside of the apparel industry is doing a good job in regards to Transparency?

I consider jewelry/diamond business being potentially opaque. AUrate use durable materials, transparent pricing, sustainable production, and give back in tangible ways. Diamonds and pearls are sourced from conflict-free regions, in compliance with all applicable United Nations resolutions.

+ What person in the apparel industry do you consider inspiring?

Andrew Olah. Because without him, denim wouldn’t be quite the same.

+ What book about Transparency should the audience read?

What is Transparency by R.E. Oliver – the book argues that transparency is today among the ingredients of success in business as much as in personal life.
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