The Crilo Case: A Universal Connection Between Fashion and Nature

With its distinctive logo derived from initials of its founder Cristina Longagnani, Italian brand CRILO isn’t just an embodiment of its creator’s vision, but ultimately also represents the fusion of two worlds that seem disparate normally: fashion and nature.

CRILO was born from Cristina’s desire to take her chances at creating something of her own which would reflect her sensibilities and passions. This young and informal, eco-sustainable brand is the latest achievement in its founder’s extensive career in fashion. Before creating her label, Cristina Longagani spent thirty years working in fashion, experiencing the industry from every angle, from style to shipping and every position in between. When she reached fifty, she thought she had done everything. Then an idea came to her. Why not turn her life and career around and finally create something consistent with her own thoughts and feelings?

Her truest desire was to provide a more intimate view of fashion, as opposed to the soulless and appearance-centric perspective she often encountered. The decision to do so in a sustainable way, was, of course, something that came natural to her and a necessity she felt, as she told us when she spoke with us.

When founding her brand and to give life to her collections, she aimed toward Italian suppliers that provided her with natural certified (GOTS Global Organic Textile Standard – ICEA) fabrics. She chose everything from organic cotton jersey to organic cotton popeline and organic plush that contained only small amounts of elastane. She also chose and continues to use linen and bamboo in her work, as these materials have numerous appreciable properties for both people’s health and the environment.

In regards to her dyeing process, Cristina takes her inspiration from the popular techniques of the 1960’s that were typical of the hippie culture of that era such as degradé and tie dye, but updated them innovatively to conform to contemporary tastes of the modern age.

A sustainable dyeing process is something very difficult to achieve and you have to compromise, as she told us, but she tries to consistently reduce the number of chemicals in her processes and uses natural dyes such as logwood, woad, madder, and indigo whenever possible. This way, she is able to limit the number of toxic substances which otherwise would get in contact with our skin and penetrate the surface, possibly having negative consequences for our health.

While we were talking to Cristina, we were able to feel the satisfaction she had with her accomplishments thus far. However, she also shared that there were obstacles she had to face along her path in being a young sustainable brand in Italy, particularly with difficulties regarding understanding.

At first, she had to struggle to find suppliers in tune with her eco-sustainable ideals, so she had to turn to small suppliers and an equally small production chain with many little laboratories located in Emilia Romagna instead. Contrary to other countries, such as those in Scandinavia, she found that, in Italy, many are ignorant about sustainable fashion, and many customers simply consider fashion a means for getting an instant return of image and don’t pay attention to what goes into their clothing. Cristina, of course, wants to provide a special value with her garments, so this lack of care poses difficulties for her young brand.

She knows, however, that the added value of her brand gives it its very distinct “soul”. CRILO is built on a concept that spans beyond cuts and geometries to reach a place in the heart, and it does this by using beautiful eco-sustainable materials. She believes that what her and some other pioneers are doing now will blaze a path for others to come later and that this will aid in educating people to care what goes into their clothing as well as the aesthetic value of their garments.

Photo credit: @oscarwastaken, Crilo

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