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Interviews
Interview: Andrea Venier
October 3. 2018
As CEO of Italian textile chemicals company Officina+39, Andrea Venier was the driving force behind the development of Recycrom. Hailed by some as the one of the biggest innovations in dyestuffs in the last 50 years, Recycrom is a colour powder made from 100% textile waste. This remarkably clean dye is ready to scale and has already been applied by Italian high-street retailer OVS for two capsule collections. Venier will be talking at Kingpins Transformers about Recycrom and adding value.  

+ Can you describe Recycrom for the uninitiated?

We developed a system to reprocess textile waste and scraps and transforming the fibres into colour powder. Since Recycrom does not require any extra synthetic dyestuff, we are therefore using a recycled cellulosic powder to dye or print garments or fabric – essentially replacing conventional dyestuffs with this innovative colour. Plus, it can be used on pretty much every fabric: all natural fibres and also polyamides.

+ How do you define innovation?

Innovation means firstly to accept the challenge of change. It’s not something new that arises, suddenly, without any connection to the past. It’s a progress that improves on previous knowledge, traditions and experiences. For me specifically, innovation means the ability to upcycle waste. And without our company’s thirty years of experience – the tradition and knowledge of working with special dyeing processes – we would have never been able to develop Recycrom.

+ Was there a specific trigger for you to seek innovation?

We had the need to offer something unique to the textile market – to get noticed. It had to be genuine and sustainable. So recycling seemed an obvious direction: it’s the only way to build a better future. The idea of turning waste into opportunity…

+ So now you take old garments and manufacturing scraps and turn these into dye. Where can we find your product?

At the moment we have only have a small production line in Biella, Italy. But by the end of 2019, we hope to have a larger factory producing a ton of dyestuff a day. And I believe this to be realistic considering the number of important brands and retailers we are talking to.

+ What is one hurdle to innovation and how do you combat it?

Living in this very fast (sometimes too fast) world and following the “crazy” rules of the fashion game, the imagination can be killed. However, we can keep our imagination alive through sharing, cooperating and communicating information and life experiences. It was in this way we were able to figure out how to transform textile fibre – which is fibrous – into a uniform crystalline powder. My hometown of Biella is not only famous for textiles but also for recycling textiles. One of my best friends has a spinning unit for regenerated yarn and while visiting him, I noticed some powder coming from his machines – it triggered my imagination and I used some of that dust for my first trial.

+ Who is an innovation leader outside of the denim/garment industry that you find particularly inspiring?

The Italian contemporary artist Michelangelo Pistoletto seeks to break down the barriers between all disciplines – sculpture, architecture, fashion, etcetera – to seek a new balanced relationship between nature and technology. If you are ever in Biella, you must visit his remarkable and massive Cittadellarte Foundation that is arising from a once-abandoned textile mill. Pure inspiration.
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