Me and the prince

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This article is published in number 46 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until November 16, 2021

From visionary digital entrepreneur – who invented the fashionable purchase with a couple of convenient clicks, when Netflix was still selling videotapes, in 1999 – to knight of the sustainable revolution, at the head of a round table wanted by a king, or rather, by the Prince of Galles. The epic of Federico Marchetti, founder of Yoox yesterday and today president of the fashion task force di Sustainable Markets Initiative launched in 2020 by Prince Charles, it has the flavor of a success story other latitudes are accustomed to. Yet, the almost childish curiosity for technology and the infinite potential that Marchetti expresses in words and works, speaks the language of the people of dreamers. One topic, technology applied to the future of fashion (but also to the compelling present), which he also discussed at COP26, the United Nations conference on climate in Glasgow until 12 November.

And it is there that it can be reached, through the means offered by technology (a call on Zoom on the Lombard-Scottish axis).

World leaders have said “stop deforestation by 2030”: the future of the planet is on the plate of COP26. A dramatic situation for which fashion is partly responsible. What do you expect from this appointment?
«Let’s start with a fact: fashion is responsible for about 10 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
It is imperative to do something already today. As I told the panel of the New York Times in which I spoke these days, the new leaders will have to have one thing in common with software engineering, a feature called agile programming. They will have to be able to make decisions, even courageous ones, and immediately begin to apply them, and then perhaps modify them and adjust the shot in the course of work, allowing themselves to make mistakes. The time of political bureaucracy is up, we cannot afford to implement decisions only when we have bombproof solutions. For this with the fashion task force of SMI (Sistema Moda Italia, group of CEO of House, but also of clothing chains and reseller from second-hand, from Burberry to Chloé, passing through Giorgio Armani, Vestiaire Collective and Selfridges among others, ed) it was decided to launch the digital passport. And start implementing it right now. Certainly not in 2030 ».

What is the digital passport?
«It is a technology that, through Qr code on the tags or blockchain, will allow consumers to know the history of the garment, to have credible information on manufacturing, production, sustainability of the supply chain, but also on repair and resale services, and therefore to make purchasing choices that aim at longevity and support the economy circular: it is a request that comes from consumers. In recent months on Google Trends there has been a 250 percent increase in requests for “sustainable fashion” as the keyword, the change is already underway. On the other hand, i brand “Virtuous” want to let their customers know the effort that is made to create value. We will bring these two needs together ».

To want her at the head of the task force it was Prince Charles. How do you face such a challenge?
«Prince Charles spoke about the environment for the first time in February 1970. I was born in February 1969: I was exactly one year old. If Greta Thunberg mobilizes the youth protest movement, the prince mobilizes private companies and governments: it is impossible to criticize her commitment to the environment. When I went to his home in Scotland, he showed me the trees he had planted, of which he knows life, death and miracles: as well as being objectively a great honor to preside over this task force, what makes me proud is his authentic commitment ».

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