Sustainable Fashion: Yamamay

The sustainable fashion industry

Is a sustainable fashion industry possible? In the talk presented by Barbara Cimmino during the Re-think Naples event that took place last June, we could see how a company through constant efforts and collaborations with external partners can change its economic model from linear to circular.

Barbara Cimmino, CSR Director of Yamamay, began her speech by starting precisely from the city of Naples. She said that it is a place that has proven time and again on different fronts and for all industries that it has been able to generate culture over the centuries, and, she says, it is precisely from a culture that we must start again. The change to a more sustainable reality must be carried forward together, by institutions and industry.

Yamamay project

The Yamamay project started in 2021, and a key theme for the company is biodiversity protection. The study begun last year on biodiversity had anticipated, at the time, the increasing attention to the issue. We do not have another Planet, and at this rate of growth it is not possible to preserve and protect the balance of biodiversity. Cimmino went on to emphasize how necessary it is for companies to change their approach and move from the linear economy system to the circular economy. The transition is possible through measurement and measuring means knowing the state of the problem. Yamamay’s goal is to unite the environmental and digital transition, and this is possible through knowledge.

The company began its transition by starting with a focus on the sea, a natural element that covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface, which is also fundamental to the earth’s breathing cycle, can produce 50 percent of the globe’s oxygen and absorb 30 percent of the carbon dioxide produced. The speech continued by introducing the company with some figures. Yamamay ended the year 2021 with 117 million in sales, has a presence in 44 countries around the world, operates through more than 600 stores in these 44 countries, and now has more than 800 employees. Although Yamamay is a relatively young company, it has always adopted sustainability as a core principle. For example, it was the first Italian company to fully offset an advertising campaign in 2010, and in 2019 it formalized this sustainability commitment with a voluntary public report.

How can fashion be sustainable?

The company’s focuses are Goals 12 and 14 of the SDGs, which are responsible consumption and production and life below water. It chose to follow these indicators to contribute to an issue on which the fashion industry has a strong impact: water. Suffice it to say that 20 percent of global water pollution is generated by the Fashion industry, or that the Fashion industry is fourth in the world in water consumption among all industries, and still uses more than 1,000 chemicals and substances harmful to humans and the environment that end up in rivers and seas.

Cimmino went on to explain that Yamamay has anticipated not only the theme of a circular economy but also Eco-design, to be able to accompany the product more quickly to the “end-of-life.” The goal is to close the circle. By taking back products at the end of their life, the company takes care of the management for both upcycling and downcycling.

The importance of digitization, which allows the traceability of each product, is thus emphasized. Yamamay’s goal is to produce 60 percent of products from recycled fibers and fabrics and innovative products by 2024. Usually, expensive third-party certifications are used to demonstrate these “sustainable advances”. But in the future, a blockchain project will be developed that will make these certifications much more accessible and affordable.

Another important issue is touched upon during the talk, which is the issue of reducing unsold inventory. The goal, of course, is not to reduce production, but to optimize it according to sales capacity. To do this, Yamamay uses optimization systems based on genetic algorithms; it is trying to broaden the size coverage of its products and, in other words, with fewer sizes sell to a larger audience of buyers.

Another topic in which Yamamay is engaged is impact measurement. Progress has been made especially in measuring the Carbon Footprint. But to solve problems more effectively and achieve its goals, collaborative activities with the entire supply chain must necessarily be carried out so that these measurements are more useful and detailed.

Eco Design: a new line

Cimmino in conclusion brought as an example one of Yamamay’s latest products: an innovative swimwear line designed to be circular and for which the rules of ECO-design have been applied 100 percent. Thus, it is a single-material product, without toxic additives and entirely recyclable.

To arrive at this product, collaborations were made with all stakeholders in the supply chain, going far beyond just the retail phase that the company deals with.

Another notable feature of this new line is transparency; without providing detailed and truthful information to consumers Cimmino said, sustainable projects cannot be pursued. To ensure this, the company has collaborated with a spin-off from the University of Pisa, and has created and is using Ergo, a tool for measuring circularity that allows it to understand at what stages of the process improvements can and should still be made. One last project that will be activated in 2023 concerns, another fundamental phase which is the end of the cycle, ending with take-back. Barbara Cimmino concluded by stating that to have the final transition, it is necessary to collaborate with the whole community, and to do this we need to communicate the needs of our planet Earth without confusion and in transparency. 

Here is the link to download the full report. To know more about Sustainable fashion, see the Youtube video of the event.

Francesco Castellano

Francesco Castellano holds a Master degree in Business Administration, and he has gathered almost twenty years of experience in research, finance, consulting, and business management. During this time, he was engaged in different types of projects as a consultant at Bain & Company, launched Uber operations in Turin, and worked in the FP&A department at General Electric.Lately, he founded To... Read more

Francesco Castellano holds a Master degree in Business Administration, and he has gathered almost twenty years of experience in research, finance, consulting, and business management. During this time, he was engaged in different types of projects as a consultant at Bain & Company, launched Uber operations in Turin, and worked in the FP&A department at General Electric.

Lately, he founded Tondo, a cluster of organizations focusing on spreading Circular Economy approaches and concepts, and supporting companies in the transition to a clean and circular future. Francesco is also the ideator and coordinator of the Re-think Circular Economy Forum, a format of events organized in many different locations in Italy showcasing the most relevant Circular Economy solutions.

Francesco has been a guest speaker at different universities and events, like Federico II University, Bocconi University, LIUC - Cattaneo University, Pavia University, Padua University, Catholic University, IPE Business School, 24ORE Business School, Campus Party, Torino Stratosferica, Visionary Days.

Francesco is passionate about Circular Economy, Cleantech Innovations, Venture Building and Entrepreneurship.