«I don’t believe in the word ‘sustainable’, I believe in transparency and consistency. Sustainability should not be a privilege for a few, it should be a right»
Nous Etudions by Romina Cardillo
Buenos Aires born Romina Cardillo is the brains behind Nous Etudions, the genderless fashion brand with sustainability and veganism at its core. The brand’s name is a declaration of intent as the words mean ‘we study’, showcasing that the prime goal of its founder and the team that’s behind it is to learn, to study what’s available to us, what are the problematics that come with the fashion industry and to work to find solutions for this problem. Nous Etudions prides itself on its «non-spiciest approach», aiming to reach all audiences and educate on using non-animal derived fabrics. Cardillo’s advances in sustainable materials saw her chosen as a New Talent by Sara Maino and recognized as The Next Green Talent by YOOX.
The Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE) graduate’s latest ethical venture is her capsule collection named Elemental, a collective of everyday basics. All the collections produced by the Argentinian brand since its launch in 2014 have been defined by their experimental textiles and swollen silhouettes and this latest one is no exception. Cardillo’s latest instalment of Elemental included neoprene pale pink trench coats and mustard crossbody bags with keychains shaped as the abstract, crescent moon logo. Consistent through the collection is the use of neoprene, an unlikely but effective choice used across bags, trousers and sweatshirts. The capsule is developed using textiles from the sustainable Argentinian company, TEXCOM. Not only is Cardillo sourcing locally but ethically, using textile products derived from recycled threads of plastic bottles. The company works to reduce the toxicity of chemicals used both within the process and the final product. Also used for the collection are dyes from Pyltex, which eliminate chemicals from the production process by using only water-based inks.
Romina Cardillo Oximoron collection
Currently Cardillo has been working on her latest collection Oximoron, which focuses on artisan techniques and bio textiles. «This new capsule holds meaning for me because I started it over a year ago and I can take the time to develop it without rushing to official fashion presentations». The prototypes are produced locally in Argentina within the Wichi community, where the contributing designers use the ancestral Yika stitch, a method kept safe tightly within the community. The designer has only «four internal workers» on her team, so she relies on external collaborators to introduce variety and include techniques that would otherwise be lost. We are yet to see more than prototypes for this collection but Cardillo has revealed her «seamless tailoring» technique, with jackets toying with the illusion that they’re created using one continuous piece of vegan fabric. The designer has experimented with a trompe l’oeil puzzle-like design, separating the bottom half of the jacket from the top. Cardillo explained that her inspiration for all collections derive from «artisan communities and their relationship with nature».
Lampoon introduces Romina Cardillo
The environmentally conscious designer began building her fashion brand in 2007 with her menswear brand labelled Groupo 134, which made its mark as the first vegan brand in Argentina. After developing her business, design and marketing skills for seven years, Nous Etudions was born in 2014 with the aim of spreading her work of sustainability not just across her country, but worldwide. «I have experienced many failures and setbacks, many more in Latin America, but each of those moments has made me realize why I had to continue and look for a fairer industry». From her beginnings to working with international fashion brands, Cardillo made her way up the ladder sticking to her sustainable ethos. In 2019 the designer created a capsule collection for Nike collaborating specifically on the Air Max 720, a forty-year-old silhouette focused on «capturing air in the sole of the shoe». The sustainably innovative shoe is made with more than seventy-five percent of recycled materials and so is suited to Cardillo’s methods of design. The collection of seven looks combines the vision of Nous Etudions and the sporty, sleek craftsmanship of Nike to create a vibrant, unexpected concept. Made with 100% sustainable materials, including capitonné neoprene, woven pieces in orange, fuchsia and green gained much attention adding to Cardillo’s presence in the sustainable industry.
Nous Etudions’ sustainable outlook
«I don’t make any efforts to be sustainable, today I don’t believe in the word ‘sustainable’, I believe in transparency and consistency. Sustainability should not be a privilege for a few, it should be a right». Awareness of the planet and her surrounding environment comes as given to Cardillo after being vegan for over a decade. Sustainable materials emerge from various sources, from pineapples to stinging nettles. Cardillo has begun experimenting with Kombucha to produce a vegan leather, used in a small number of her designs at present. The 100% biodegradable material is made by fermenting the Kombucha by adding a mixed symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, which is known as SCOBY. As the bacteria grows it produces a mass of cellulose mono-fibres which float on the surface of the liquid, this is then harvested and washed, ready to be stretched and stitched. Cardillo’s design philosophy benefits from these advances in textiles and contributes to the slow fashion ideal. The designer is as thoughtful with her fabric choices as she is with her silhouettes, creating garments with technical tailoring but also abstract shaping, including accessories in the form of vibrant puffer scarfs produced with sustainably certified Lycra.Discussing who she was most thrilled to see wearing her designs, Cardillo voiced that she would want Bjork to be the next, an eclectic adorned in garments torn between practical and expressive. Perhaps this may be possible for her next collection, a capsule she began creating over a year ago. «I have realised that the process of creating these garments is as necessary as the garments themselves. To be able to make a fusion between new technologies and ancestral artisanal processes is the path I chose and in which I find a constant evolution». With her collections, Cardillo aims to spread her message of preservation to fashion consumers stating that what people can and should do now is «not eating animals and not using them to make clothes. It’s something one can start now and it’s the beginning of everything». Her message is clear cut, if fashion is to continue then it must do so in the least harmful way.
Romina Cardillo designer
Romina Cardillo birthed Nous Etudions in her home country of Argentina, after her education at The Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE) in 2014. The highly considerate and sustainable brand promotes a vegan lifestyle, genderless shopping and does so with meticulous textile work.