Field: Substitution
Global Technical function: Manufacturing
Technical Function Unit: Eco-manufacturing
Geographic Area: Italy

Implementation of Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) techniques in designing luxury items.

Founded in 1913, Prada is a fashion label in luxury goods for men and women in Italy. The company implements innovative design solutions based on C2C methods for some of its fashion ranges. Prada’s leather accessories, bags and luxury eyewear products are examples of C2C production. 

The challenge

Rapidly changing fashions currently lead to high levels of waste and environmental impacts, meaning that changes are required to improve sustainability and boost C2C–based design. The Italian fashion label, Prada, is an example of how non-luxury materials can be used to provide sustainable, luxury fashion items to consumers.  

The innovation

Prada specialises in luxury goods such as ready-to-wear leather accessories, shoes, luggage and hats. The company applies C2C philosophies in the luxury fashion sector and practices eco-manufacturing in its selected products.

In designing luxury backpacks, Prada has replaced the use of nylon with eco-intelligent polyester and leather from salmon skin, a by-product of the fishing industry. In place of fabric designed with polyester, Prada uses a variety of biodegradable natural fibres and C2C synthetic fabrics.   

Prada eyewear is another example where the C2C manufacturing is used.  Frames and hinges are made with bio-plastics or polymers derived from castor oil (oil extracted from castor plant seeds) and lenses are recyclable to be re-used for cameras or binoculars.

The flagship stores of the company are also designed using the C2C concept. Carbon Negative Cement, air purifying wallpapers and construction panels made from cow manure and recycled materials are used in the design of these stores.

Why did it work?

The innovation emerged from the vision to integrate biodegradable and natural materials to create luxury items for fashion lovers. Prada has identified various C2C materials which can be used as substitution for petroleum-based materials in fashion goods. The company has developed a variety of luxury items (bags, footwear and eyewear etc.) from renewable and recyclable substances.

Further deployment

The luxury sector could become a good example of sustainability in society by discovering fashionable solutions using C2C methods. Prada’s example shows that the aesthetics can be linked to health and environmental aspects. The maturity of its eco-innovations is estimated to be 9 on GML scale.