AS THE fashion industry reckons with its environmental impact, a fresh wave of sustainable brands is emerging. One such trailblazer is Canto Primo, a creative collective comprising Argentinian footballer and artist Franco Zuculini, and designers Lola Catala and Carola Quaglia. With sustainability at its core, Canto Primo challenges conventional fashion norms redefining the industry and making waves in the realms of art and fashion.
Born out of a shared passion for art and design, Canto Primo is deeply rooted in the trio’s dedication to upcycling and reducing waste. Zuculini’s art serves as a starting point, and from there, the team looks for a broader and more comprehensive concept for each collection, and once the theme has been chosen, they merge these two mediums, ensuring to reinforce the concept and main objective to be meaningful.
As Zuculini explains, “My art is a critique of society and individualism”. Seizing his inspiration in Baroque art and classical existentialist philosophy, he makes a point of the importance of “all the concepts and discussions about societies that were raised a thousand years ago are still valid and relevant in today’s world”.
The brand’s manifesto strongly emphasises its unwavering dedication to sustainability and the circular economy principles – which the team firmly believes should become the standard rather than a rare exception.
Both Lola and Carola embarked on individual journeys towards eco-friendly fashion, ultimately converging on their shared aspiration to tackle the fashion industry’s prevalent wastefulness. Lola’s background as a senior jersey designer served as a catalyst for her awareness of the environmental toll of mass production. Meanwhile, Carola found inspiration during her time in Copenhagen, where she was exposed to the integration of fashion, technology, and resource repurposing.
Together, they have made upcycling the foundational element of Canto Primo. The process of developing their distinct fashion collections has proven to be a captivating learning experience for the designers.
Collaboratively, they transitioned from meticulously selecting vintage garments to strategically designing entire collections and sourcing specific scrap materials. Carola candidly shares, “The experience of the process made us realize that choosing the garments one by one was an absolutely unprofitable job”.
By harnessing the power of lateral thinking, the creative team achieved success with their groundbreaking “Discarded T-shirt” design, which originated from a box of unsold, defective shirts. Carola’s skill in converting 2D designs into wearable 3D garments, with the team’s tenacity in overcoming the challenges posed by their local fashion industry, has been a significant driving force propelling their success. Their combined efforts have led to a unique and sustainable approach to fashion, setting a new standard for the industry as a whole.
Artistic ideas, rare discoveries, and surplus materials come together in perfect harmony throughout the creation process at Canto Primo. Carola notes that in order to put their plans into action, they: “constantly use lateral thinking and a lot of discussions” amongst themselves.
Drawing upon the familiar references of the poetry of the past, the brand’s collections are also deeply inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy – this literary classic provides a thematic backdrop for collections like “Decimo Cielo” and “Dolce Stil Novo.”
Canto Primo’s commitment to inclusivity is evident in its size-less and gender-fluid designs. As Carola notes, “Making unique pieces forces us to rethink everything in models that are as comprehensive as possible in terms of bodies, sizes, and gender”. This progressive approach not only reflects Canto Primo’s desire to break down barriers but also reinforces its mission to reduce waste.
Another interesting aspect is that the brand chooses to only focus on the winter and summer collections, explaining it as if those seasons are the most multifunctional and, therefore, provide the most versatility to the wearer. They are divided into two stages, two chapters, nevertheless with a vivid reference to the same story.
The most recent collections – “Broderie Line,” “Angel Line,” “Tailoring,” and “Discarded” – showcase their unique, artistic style, featuring one-of-a-kind pieces that blend fashion and art. As the team believes, “A Canto Primo piece is a small work of art. Take the “Angel Set” – it exemplifies the seamless fusion of these two realms, epitomising the essence of Canto Primo.
With its growing presence in Milan and London, the brand’s future plans include continued innovation and expansion of its creative footprint. Carola envisions a “cultural centre” where experiences and ideas can flourish, while Lola imagines a public open house that invites visitors into the world of Canto Primo.
Canto Primo is a prime example of a creative collective that has successfully married sustainable practices with artistic expression, proving that fashion can be both responsible and beautiful.
As the brand continues to grow and push boundaries, it serves as a reminder that the future of fashion lies in the hands of those who dare to challenge the status quo and embrace change.
by Zlata Kryudor
Discover more about Canto Primo by exploring their Instagram.