Can you be profitable while running a sustainable business in Fashion? For Javier Goyeneche, the founder and president of Ecoalf and inventor of the claim “Because there is no planet B®”, social entrepreneurship is not a choice but a mission. The only possible way to “continue his career in Fashion, doing business for good”, like his Foundation for cleaning the oceans. Javier Goyeneche, the Founder of Ecoalf is an extraordinary role model for all Fashion entrepreneurs : the success of design and sustainability. A pioneer in creating recycled products with the same quality and design as non-recycled products. I am so happy to meet him at Pitti Uomo and ask him all the questions about his 10-year-journey to grow a doing company in Fashion with a sustainable DNA.
June 14, 2022 | Florence
By Delphine Souquet
Podcast Conversation at Pitti Uomo with Javier Goyeneche on the success of Ecoalf
Today on this episode I have an exclusive conversation with Javier Goyeneche the Founder and President of the Spanish Lifestyle brand Ecoalf which targets a 50% growth in 2022.
Reading time : 5 minutes
Who is Javier Goyeneche?
Javier Goyeneche is the Founder and President of Ecoalf, a sustainable lifestyle brand and the first fashion brand to be BCorp certified in Spain. Javier is a successful Spanish entrepreneur and a role model for doing business for good.
I’ve always wanted to create a Story-Doing company, not a Storytelling companyJavier Goyeneche
Javier Goyeneche : i remembered 2014 our second bestseller was a polar fleece made with recycled polyester. But it was a polar fleece made with a broken filament. Every time you wash a fleece it’s 20 000 microfilaments going back into the water so we decided to stop. We’ve made many of those decisions but at the end of the day and this is serious, every time we’ve taken a decision which we would thought it was good for the planet it came up to be good for Ecoalf. It always comes back. I think your clients, your customers, understand why we’re taking those decisions. They believe more in the brand they believe you’re brave enough to take those decisions and i always said i didn’t want to create a storytelling company i wanted to create a story doing company.
What you can learn in this Episode of the Podcast (link above):
- First part until 24’24” : inside the booth of Ecoalf at Pitti Uomo to discuss about the design of the collections, the research on the materials and the recycled products. You can hear how busy and exciting it is to exhibit at Pitti Uomo.
- Second part after 24’24” : in a more quiet atmosphere, on the main square of Pitti Uomo fair, to tell about the vision of Ecoalf and the Bcorp certification.
Ecoalf partnering with Pitti Uomo
Delphine : is it the first time you are coming to show at Pitti Uomo?
Javier : no we’ve been coming to Pitti practically since we launched a brand since 2014. We’ve been coming to different places inside Pitti fair and obviously we started in a much smaller stand. We do two shows per year, one is Pitti and one is Berlin, so yes it’s very important for us.
Delphine : now you’ve got a central position in Pitti and you’re partnering with the organization of pitti
Javier Goyeneche : we’ve been partnering for two seasons already and i think they really wanted to give also a push into sustainable fashion and and i’m very happy to partner with Pitti.
Dressing the Pitti Uomo Boys and Girls with the claim of Ecoalf “There is no Planet B®”
It’s no surprise that Pitti is partnering with Ecoalf for the second time by dressing the Pitti Boys and Girls with the claim invented by Javier Goyeneche himself “There is no planet B®”. Pitti fair has always been an indicator of the profound social changes that are transforming the Fashion industry. The claim of Ecoalf has become viral on social media. Javier tells us its meaning and the mission of Ecoalf about doing and not telling / activism and not storytelling.
Delphine : is sustainability well represented at pitti ?
For us everything has to be as sustainable as possibleJavier
Javier Goyeneche : well i think the industry is evolving into trying to be more sustainable. Now the thing is that obviously it’s easier for brands which were born already with that dna. It’s more difficult for brands which are not sustainable and then, well, they try to do a sustainable capsule collection, inside their collection, which is different from us. For us everything has to be as sustainable as possible.
Ecoalf 1.0 : the new Premium line at Pitti Uomo
Delphine : You are a pioneer in creating collections from recycled products. Could you tell me more about your collections presented at Pitti Uomo?
Recycling, that’s how we started. Now, the new premium line 1.0 brings the latest technology we have been developing since 2012Javier Goyeneche
Javier : there’s two areas very differentiated. So we have main collection which is the one we started with : you have men women kids accessories and shoes and that’s a lot about basically recycling and recycling that’s how we started. I mean that’s the vision of the company, to stop using natural resources. Then on the other side, you will see 1.0 collection which is the new premium line we just launched eight months ago and there we wanted to take all the latest technology we have been developing since 2012, so it’s the latest in membranes the latest in filaments, the latest entire materials etc
Delphine : Was it important to launch a Pemium line?
The latest in filament which doesn’t throw any microplastics back into the ocean is here
Javier : so we just started I mean it’s a very young project but here is the latest in filament which doesn’t throw any microplastics back into the ocean is here. Here technology it’s at the latest so it’s a bit more expensive than the main collection.
Delphine : Is there a difference of style between Main collection and 1.0 Premium line
Javier : in terms of daily outfits there is a little difference in style between the easy going daily outfits of the main collection which is more casual yes. So you see more colorful, we also use more prints with our claim Because there’s no planet b, it’s more young. Then 1.0 it’s a bit more elegant, more sophisticated, also very clean, i mean you won’t see logos, you won’t see prints.
Ecoalf Footwear at Pitti Uomo
Delphine : so you’ve got a complete offer of products now even footwear
two of our sneakers have been considered the ones with the lowest carbon emissions in the marketJavier
Footwear is nearly 23% of the sales of main collection
Javier : Footwear for us now is very important, it’s nearly 23% of the sales of main collection and i mean there’s a lot of technology behind. We’re using all the Knit thing you see comes from our upcycling oceans project which is the project where we get waste from the bottom of the ocean every day thanks to the help of 5 000 fishermen. The laces are recycled, the soles are made from sugar cane the insoles, etc so here there’s a lot of technology behind and we’re happy to know that two of our sneakers have been considered the ones with the lowest carbon emissions in the market
The story of Ecoalf and Javier Goyeneche, a successful Spanish sustainable Fashion entrepreneur
Delphine : you started 10 years ago it’s a really long road and you’ve been doing so well !! Could you speak about your background of entrepreneur because you’re a very successful Spanish entrepreneur it’s your second business Ecoalf
To be honest at that point i was very tired of the fashion industry so i decided i didn’t want to work anymore in fashion and i wanted to work in sustainabilityJavier Goyeneche
Javier : exactly, i had another fashion company which was sold in 2008 which was more accessories company. To be honest at that point i was very tired of the fashion industry so i decided i didn’t want to work anymore in fashion and i wanted to work in sustainability. So i tried for a year to find in Spain like a good foundation with resources to really make an impact in sustainability. I wasn’t able to find it in Spain. I’m not sure it even exists now. So i decided okay why don’t i try to create a brand which unites sustainability and fashion? My two sons had just been born Alfredo and Alvaro. The name ecoalf is because of them. Because of my two sons and i believe the most sustainable thing to do was to stop using natural resources. So recycling could be a solution to be able to make like this new generation of recycled products with the same quality and design as the non-recycled ones.
the fashion industry right now has a business model which is not working : it’s all about buying / throwing / buying / throwing
Well fashion cannot just be about looking good i think it has to be also about doing what is right and feeling good about it. And i think unfortunately because the fashion industry right now has a business model which is not working it’s all about buying / throwing / buying / throwing a new trend every thursday, discount promotion, black friday, etc And this is creating a huge damage in the planet. I was reading the other day that the biggest cotton company in the world is burning 4 000 acres of forest in Ethiopia to plant cotton. So we’re crazy now we’re burning the forest to plant cotton, to make t-shirts of five euros which are going to finish in a landfill in a big percentage in less than two years. But that’s not gonna work anymore …
The mission of Ecoalf
Delphine : this is a mission we both have in common, you and me on 2goodmedia. Me trying to build this conscious media and Ecoalf really putting the emphasis on the human and the planet, the connection between all the people and the environment we are living in.
Delphine : it’s always been working like this but nobody talking about unfortunately for many decades
Imagine each of those t-shirts takes 2500 liters of water which is practically what a human person drinks in three yearsJavier
Javier : unfortunately many brands got into that dynamic of the fast fashion : eight collections per year, continuous promotions and this is a disaster now. We’re gonna be probably everybody says two more billion people by 2050, there’s not gonna be enough forest, there’s not gonna be enough landfills and there’s definitely not gonna be enough water. Imagine each of those t-shirts takes two thousand five hundred liters of water which is practically what a human person drinks in three years. It’s ridiculous to finish in a landfill in six months!
Delphine : i love the way you speak truly. Have you always been like this ?
We are far from being perfect we have so much work. With microfilaments there’s a lot of issues we need to solve
Ecoalf presents the circular project 100 recycled cotton
Javier : at Ecoalf we’re quite activists so and the more you get into this the more you realize there’s so much to do. We are far from being perfect we have so much work. It’s true that we’re now very obsessed with circularity, with microfilaments there’s a lot of issues we need to solve. Here we’re launching the first circular project with 100 recycled cotton collection. When we started in 2014 i remember we were only able to put 25 recycled cotton content because the yarn is very small and it was very difficult to work. And this is now already 100, the quality is amazing, able to recycle it again only losing three percent of the content in the process! We’re launching now another program circularity with all our nylon.
4 advices for sustainable fashion entrepreneurs
Delphine : i’m meeting a lot of them and the new generation of entrepreneurs they all tell me it’s difficult still because they’ve got to do research, there are legal issues when you are alone as an entrepreneur and you don’t have the support of a group like Kering or Lvmh
when designers get into Ecoalf for them it’s much more complicated because we don’t mix filaments
Javier : it’s very difficult but for them it’s the only way to do what they want to deliver to the world. I agree i mean when i started it was probably much more difficult than now. Now there’s more options. But it’s true, trying to be sustainable is much more complicated. When designers get into Ecoalf for them it’s much more complicated because we don’t mix filaments. So 97% of that collection is monofilament so we don’t mix cotton with polyester and that makes it much more difficult to design.
Delphine : you cannot recycle if you mix filaments, can you?
i would encourage all young entrepreneurs that keep on going that direction because the other direction is not going anywhere
Javier : if you mix filament, it makes it very complicated, you can do this chemical recycling which at the end of the day the resulting fiber is so bad that you cannot do anything with it or so. At the end obviously trying to do things in a sustainable way makes it more complicated, it makes it more expensive but i think that that’s the future. So i would encourage all young entrepreneurs that keep on going that direction because the other direction is not going anywhere. I think in my opinion anybody can make a building now, but how is that building in terms of energy efficiency? Anybody can make a t-shirt but what is the footprint of that t-shirt in the world exactly? so i think what you do is not enough anymore, how you do it is more and more important. So i encourage all young entrepreneurs to to work in that direction, to be disruptive to be courageous and to really push the industry in that way.
3.The sustainable brand platform : design, price, quality, fitting
Delphine : one question for them concerning the brand platform : what are other marketing pillars that are necessary for their brand in addition to being a sustainable brand?
very little people are just going to buy your product because it’s sustainable
Javier : well i think this is fashion, so it’s very important how it comes through. I think there’s more and more people right now that want to buy brands that represent certain values they feel comfortable with, so that’s perfect. They might say okay this brand represents what i like in terms of values but then they go to the shop and they need to find they like the product / the price is correct / the quality is good / the fitting is perfect. So i think very little people are just going to buy your product because it’s sustainable. Apart from that you need design, you need quality, you need fitting. I’m the first one who’s not going to buy a jacket if i don’t like the fitting or i’m not comfortable. So i think it has to go united, which makes it very difficult but it’s possible. Sometimes a lot of people think sustainability and design don’t go along. But it’s not true, I mean, you can see electrical cars right now which are incredible designs so it’s the same thing with fashion, i think it’s completely possible.
4.Ecoalf and collaborations / partnerships
Delphine : are partnerships important for you to make things happen ?
Javier : i think partnerships are very important now : to share technology, to share thoughts. What is important in partnerships is that you both have the same clear values. Sometimes we receive a lot of propositions to do collaborations and you see it very rapidly if the others really believe in this, or it’s just a marketing tool to do a collaboration. When you find brands that are really pushing the same direction, you work together with them, the result is amazing.
Delphine : now you’re in a good position on the market so you receive a lot of propositions of collaboration, but has it always been like this ?
at the end of life cycle of the sofa you can divide it in three pieces, very easy to recycle them
Javier : i mean we’re also launching collaborations now which have nothing to do with fashion. We’re launching a furniture collaboration which is amazing, we’ve been working over i think for two years which is incredibly fast, of course with Ecoalf fabrics. But at the end of life cycle of the sofa you can divide it in three pieces, very easy to recycle them, all the interiors of the sofa are made with the leftovers of the mattresses you throw to landfill, they’ve been one year of R&D for me with the guy who most knows about recycling in Spain. It’s a beautiful project at the end of the day, with amazing design, so it’s not only fashion and we love collaborating in many different areas.
Ecoalf is a Lifestyle Brand : what does it mean?
Delphine : you started from apparel and then you evolved in other product categories like footwear, accessories, and now furniture. Which vision do you have for Ecoalf?
as long as we have our three main pillars which are innovation sustainability and design we can do anything
Javier : well i always think of Ecoaf as a lifestyle brand. It’s not a product brand and we believe that as long as we have our three main pillars which are innovation, sustainability and design we can do anything. But we have to be real truthful to our three values. And also we wouldn’t get into furniture if we don’t think we’re bringing something new into the market. So it was the first time somebody was recycling the old mattresses to make that amazing interior, it has 62 layers, a beautiful product of R&D and the way we’ve designed it to at the end of life cycle… So we thought okay this so far we’re doing it’s good for the industry. If not, if we believe we’re not going to add anything positive then we don’t.
The story behind the claim “Because there is no Planet B” of Ecoalf
Delphine : How did you invent the claim you have now registered and that everybody knows, even sometimes do not know it comes from you?
we put “Because there’s no planet b” and then a lot of people started taking photographs in front of the wall
Javier : it was 2014, we were starting the company. I was reading in the plane some internal information, it was like a plan b for business expansions with the board. And i remember i arrived to Berlin and we had this stand in a show and suddenly when i go to the stand there was a wall which wasn’t on the designs they had sent to us. The wall was white so i phoned the graphic design and said we need to do something here because this looks so sad. Let’s put something so what did we put “Because there’s no planet b”. And then a lot of people started taking photographs in front of the wall. i said no but come in the stand. No, no we just want to take a photograph here, we love your claim. And so i said wow people love this claim. We’re not selling any down jackets but a lot of people are taking photographs. So we decided to register the claim.
Delphine : yes it’s very meaningful and it touches people to the heart. It is easy to understand and feel the emotions behind
Listen to our Podcast :
If you want to know more about our discussion with Javier Goyeneche, listen to the full Episode (direct link above or on your favorite listening platform).
Welcome to this Pitti Uomo guided podcast tour with Ecoalf
I invite you to the first ever guided Podcast Tour of Pitti Uomo through intimate conversations recorded live during the fair with brand ceos on the transformation of the industry.
If you work in the Fashion industry, you probably know of Pitti uomo, the most important international fashion fair on Menswear which takes place in Florence Italy, twice a year.
Ecoalf, a leader among 3 independent sustainable Fashion businesses
For me there are three leading and independent brands changing the game in sustainability for the Fashion industry.
Sustainability right now has a lot to do with technology and innovationJavier Goyeneche, Founder and President of Ecoalf
- One is American, a pioneer in sustainable fashion and leader in outdoor, its name is Patagonia.
- The second is French, Veja, bringing a revolution in the Footwear industry and the sourcing of materials.
- Last but not least, my guest on this podcast, is a Lifestyle Spanish brand, Ecoalf, creating recycled products in Fashion and Lifestyle, with the same quality and design of non-recycled products
Today at Pitti Uomo, I have the pleasure and honour to speak with Javier Goyeneche, the Founder of Ecoalf, social entrepreneur and activist in sustainable businesses, who recently obtained the Bcorp certification for the company. He tells us on the microphone of 2Goodmedia the journey of building a Fashion brand with a sustainable DNA.
Every time we took a decision that we thought would be good for the planet, it came up to be good for Ecoalf
No greenwashing or politically correct in our discussion : it is urgent to transform the Fashion industry, the second most polluting industry in the world with a very serious issue about recycling. The question is not what to do but how to do it to have the minimum possible carbon footprint.
There has to be a purpose behind a company, create the best company for the worldJavier Goyeneche
How is it to be an independent and sustainable fashion business? Far from the models of the big fashion groups, Kering or LVMH.
We spend a lot of time worrying what kind of planet we are going to leave to our kids, we should be worried what kind of kids are we going to leave to the planet, I think Education is key
What would make a difference today in terms of communications? Javier is well known for speaking truly about the fast fashion and consumerism system. Starting with Education, when everybody focuses on the impacts, would be impactful for the future of our planet and the People.
Before we were measuring the impacts after the product is designed, now we measure it before it’s designed, our designers assess it from the beginning
Ecoalf website and the Foundation for cleaning the Oceans
If you want to know more about the brand Ecoalf and its foundation, don’t hesitate to visit their website and write them a message if you have any additional questions.
The 2Goodmedia Podcast Community
If you want to know more about Pitti Uomo or if you could not make it to travel to Florence for this edition, don’t forget to subscribe to my Pitti Uomo Newsletter podcast following the link “Newsletter”. Twice a year, we publish exclusive interviews with Brand CEOs and our podcast reportages of the international fair to give you a macro vision of the Fashion industry trends and transformation.
If you liked this episode, you can also listen to my interview podcast at Pitti Uomo with Ahmet Mercan, the CEO of Alphatauri, the Fashion brand of the Austrian most important Group, Red Bull, which #fitsmindandbody through design and product technology.
Who am I? A Media entrepreneur.
I am Delphine Souquet, the founder of 2Goodmedia, the first conscious media on the Transformation of Creative Industries : Art, Fashion & Design.
I am a media entrepreneur with an atypical background. As an expert in podcasts and a former consultant in strategy and organisation, I bring my double experience in consulting and content production to launch the first conscious media on the Transformation of the creative industries that raises awareness. I support and coach professionals and brands in the sector to work on brand awareness, building their purpose, and to communicate differently by maximizing their impact through the media podcast. I believe in kindness, respect and ethics. You can contact me for any questions on Instagram @DelphineSouquet or on Delphine@2goodmedia.com [if you want to know more about my professional background and career shift, it’s here]
Our Mantra on 2Goodmedia is : « We talk about serious things with true Kindness. 2Goodmedia is the first conscious media on the transformation of the creative industries, Art Fashion Design. We are a connector between talented and inspiring leaders from creative industries reshaping the world around us and building a conscious economy. You can find 2Goodmedia’s podcast on all listening platforms and on our website with the transcript of the episodes in 3 languages (French, Italian, English and soon Chinese and Spanish).