Behind the design
Q&A With Head Designer Emma Green
Meet Emma Green: Parietti's Visionary Designer and Creative Director on Crafting Sustainable Cycling Elegance
In this Q&A session, we sit down with Emma Green, former lead designer at Rapha and now the creative force behind Parietti's innovative and sustainable cycling apparel. Emma sheds light on the critical need for a paradigm shift in the fashion industry, emphasising sustainability and ethical practices.
From the meticulous selection of Italian fabrics to the dedication to crafting bib shorts that cater to diverse body shapes and heights, Emma unravels the intricate tapestry of Parietti's commitment to quality, style, and a greener planet.
So with that being said, lets delve into the mind of a designer passionate about making a difference in the cycling world.
Emma, why is it important for the cycling apparel and fashion industry as a whole to take a different approach to creating sustainably?
The Fashion and Apparel industry must take responsibility for its impact on climate change, which by many estimates accounts for 8-10% of global CO2 emissions. Brands should be considering the entire lifecycle of a garment from design to delivery and beyond to end of use.
There are so many touchpoints in which impact can be reduced, which collectively make a huge difference. There is still far too much greenwashing going on, from releasing one off “eco ranges” to setting impact targets that may or may not be hit.We need action and brands that take it on as one of their main values.
How important is it to use recycled fabrics in sustainable cycling clothing?
In cycling apparel it is important to use durable fabrics that wash and wear well so garments can have a long life as generally across the clothing industry we really need to reduce churn rate and move away from fast fashion norms to make a difference.
Functionality and performance are also key, as our products need to work with zero distraction. We wear test our prototypes to ensure those needs are met, whilst also selecting to use recycled fibres.
Designing sustainable garments doesn’t start and stop at the use of recycled fabrics – all decisions across the entire manufacturing process need to be considered. But of course using recycled fibres is a very important decision to take – it's a step away from virgin polyester derived from crude oil, and uses 50% less energy and 30% less water during production.
I take green washing very seriously and am constantly asking questions and ensuring how we operate through bringing our designs to life is well considered from a planet friendly point of view. Making clothing is a very complex process with many factors and variables which deserve conscious consideration.
Winter is coming. What sets Parietti’s Thermal Rain collection apart from the competition?
At Parietti we are choosing to work with cycling apparel experts in our product development and manufacturing – partnering with factories who work with the top brands and have cycling kit experience at the Pro level. This ensures that our products are exceptionally crafted and fit beautifully; this partnered with best-in-class material and trim selection to develop superior kit.
So far, all of our fabrics are currently sourced in Italy and we are partnering with select mills who develop their fabrics especially to meet the performance demands of cycling. We are working as smartly as possible to ensure the business is successful and keep our product costs and RRPs in a healthy position.
We are (I am) quite determined to realise our Parietti personality and spirit within the product creative, and ensure we can get all those touch points in to products that customers really do notice and appreciate. We’re always challenging what is out there currently and how we can set ourselves apart through use of colour, trim and graphical play.
With that being said. What was the inspiration for the colour ways and features on this premium cycling apparel?
We are always drawn to inspiration from Mallorca and the natural environment around us and we are continuing to develop our own unique two tone colour layouts, and own our signature Lilac tone. We definitely do not take colour inspiration from seasonal fashion colour trends and are looking to create a longer term brand defining palette with a sustainable approach.
As contradictory as it sounds we don’t want to create a scenario whereby our customers feel the need to shop for a new jersey colour every season because the colour they bought the year prior has become out-dated! Colour play is something I personally love to be creative with, keeping in mind commerciality and what will look flattering on a range of body types and skin tones. Features wise we approach details most importantly from a functional aspect with a creative spin.
What is the most important thing to consider when developing cycling bib shorts?
Fit (to ensure comfort), the right amount of compression and overall comfort are all important considerations. Choice of pad is also hugely important. We went to one of the world’s best suppliers – Elastic Interface and selected anatomically designed pads for Men and Women, that perform for rides of 7h+ which fits in with our Free-ride philosophy and tested them extensively before approving them for our product line. I’m pleased that we managed to achieve all of this in the most responsible way possible, without impacting on any aspect of performance.
How do you make sure the cycling bib shorts fit really well and accommodate a different range of body shapes and heights?
Fabric selection and use of stretch is very important when it comes to fitting across a wide range of body types. We also try and use recycled elastane where we can but when there is a shortage of it, we use non-recycled elastane. Because without it, we cannot ensure maximum comfort in our fit.
We are working with mills who are constantly exploring new technology and making advances in sustainable fabrics and fibres so we are always considering what’s next and exploring how we can continue to strive towards products which are going to be even more planet friendly.
When it comes to height – as humans we very much differ, so we test our lengths across a range of cyclists and try to accommodate a range of heights as best we can within one fit – with plans to offer different length options as our product range grows.
Is there really a big difference between low cost and high end expensive cycling apparel brands and how does Parietti shape up here?
When it comes to material selection and craftsmanship, yes there is a big difference. Not all stretch fabrics are created equally and recycled fabrics do come at a premium. As I mentioned before we choose to partner with European cycling apparel experts and use best-in-class Italian fabrics which have superior handfeel, compactness and are superior in their technical construction.
Every detail we weave in to each product has a cost associated. We are certainly never going to be asking our workers to reduce their labour cost so we can reduce consumer costs, and we don’t like to remove functional details and creative details that bring out our personality. We ensure our products are entirely ethical and visit our factories to meet the people who are as passionate as we are about making premium cycling kit.
The next time you take a good look at one of your pieces of cycle clothing (or day wear) you can start to think about the story behind the piece, all the details and steps that were involved in crafting it and how many of those details and steps that may or may not have been considered in reducing the item’s impact along the way...
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