It is GRAPHI-TEE™, WRAD’s first ‘purpose-product’, to win Best of the Best 2017’ at the RedDot Design Award (http://en.red-dot.org/). A prize which in the past has recognised companies of the caliber of Apple, BMW and Bose.
The jury awarded this Made in Italy project, which will be showcased at the RedDot Design Museum by Norman Foster for one year, on the basis of its “groundbreaking design” and innovation developed with purpose: offering an answer to the harmful use of chemicals in the dyeing stage of the supply chain by giving a second chance to a particular type of industrial waste - graphite. All within the broader scope to bring respect for our planet and people back at the center of the modus operandi of the fashion industry, one of the most polluting worldwide after oil.
The design of GRAPHI-TEE™ is inspired by tradition: its dyeing process goes back to a practice - already common to the Romans 2,000 years ago - which the citizens of a small town in Southern Italy, Monterosso Calabro, have relied upon for centuries to dye their fabrics, using the natural graphite present in abundance in the area.
To create GRAPHI-TEE™, WRAD’s co-founders first step was to travel to Monterosso, an adventure they embarked on to unfold the secrets of this traditional process and directly experiment it. Their goal was to find the way too build this ancient dyeing technique in a circular, closed-loop cycle, because “sometimes you have to take a step back in orde to then move forward” as stated by Matteo Ward, WRAD’s co-founder and CEO.
Rather then using natural graphite the idea was to up-cycle the graphite powder wasted by tech companies involved with the production of electrodes, a by-product which is otherwise dismantled in landfills at cost for society and the environment.
It took almost two years of research for the team to find the way to do so thanks to a new and innovative material, G-PWDR™, made of 60% repurposed graphite powder dispersed in a liquid-based solution.
The R&D that led to the creation of G_PWDR™ was carried out in synergy with WRAD’s partner Perpetua - we had to invent it. (www.perpetua.it).
The result is GRAPHI-TEE™, the first and only t-shirt to up-cycle up to 10gr. of wasted graphite powder in the dyeing stage. Not only an innovative alternative to often dangerous chemical substances used by the textile industry to dye our fabrics, but also a circular solution to a particular type of industrial waste.
To increase awareness in the market about GRAPHI-TEE’s purpose, at the beginning of the year WRAD launched a social media campaign asking its followers to use their creative minds and develop new graphics capable of amplifying the intangible values of the product.
“The design process today has to be inclusive, capable of making the market both a user and player” says Silvia Giovanardi, one of WRAD’s co-founders and Creative Director.
“GRAPHI-TEE™ is a tangible product which, in a simple and engaging way, is inspiring people to express intangible social and environmental values. It speaks to the fact that non-renewable waste material can truly hold the answers needed for the development of stronger, circular cycles in the fashion industry. And it has become a form of personal investment for our followers, who we never view as consumers but rather as investors in our collaborative purpose”- adds Matteo Ward.
WRAD: not only an innovative start-up
WRAD is a movement and brand co-founded by Matteo Ward, former Sr. Manager for Abercrombie and Fitch, Silvia Giovanardi, former Sr. Designer for ETRO Uomo, and Victor Santiago, fashion photographer - who in 2015 all leave their job to give themselves the chance to realize their vision for a better fashion industry.
Active since then building awareness about the negative impact of the industry on the environment and people in schools and universities, with WRAD they gradually create the incentives for the development of possible solutions to the problem, consistent with their own manifesto: innovative, livable, sustainable and inclusive.
WRAD is a way of living before anything else. A way which is gradually leading to the realization of a democratic and symbiotic business model where customers become participative investors in products with purpose.
“Fashion has become one of the most polluting industries world-wide, second only to oil according to statistics. There is a severe problem of information asymmetry with respect to its true cost between the fashion system and its market. And WRAD has been contributing to limiting the damages of this problem in order to catalyze the rise of a more livable way of doing and using fashion. A lifestyle for everyone who aspires to give him or herself a chance to lead positive change”.
Graphite is a non-toxic, carbon based mineral. Being then a natural lubricant it gives the fabric developed for the GRAPHI-TEE™ by Walter Corriga of Tessile Eco Bio (an organic jacquard cotton jersey - GOTs certified), a particularly soft hand which is as unique as the process invented for its dye.
GRAPHI-TEE™ was designed by Silvia Giovanardi. On the market since December 2016 on WRAD’s own e-commerce (www.wradliving.com) in its basic and hand painted version, it is thought and produced entirely in Italy with the objective to:
GRAPHI-TEE™ is empowering WRAD and its market of customers-investors to work together as one towards the making of a more livable fashion industry. An inclusive and collaborative journey the next step of which is the launch, this fall, of yet another pioneering technology developed in synergy with Italdenim (www.italdenim.com) and Perpetua - we had to invent it (www.perpetua.it). A process which is Patent Pending.