Sustainability is important at all levels of the MICE industry – right down to the perfect outfit. Munich-based fashion designer Fabio Di Salvo creates clothes for his Enzo Escoba brand that are both MICE-appropriate and as sustainable as possible. He told us how current trends are styled for conventions, how he got from jewelry to fashion, and why he only has two bits of clothing from his own brand hanging in his wardrobe.
Hi Fabio, how did Enzo Escoba come about? Did you always know you wanted to design fashion?
I'm not really a typical fashion designer. After graduating from high school, I helped out for half a year in an open children’s and youth facility. And something clicked at this social workplace: If I want to do something, it has to have a social core. I asked myself what I personally liked, and came first up with jewelry. Up to then, I hadn't found any jewelry I could be sure was made from recycled materials and to ethical criteria. So I just thought: “I'll do it myself”. And that's how I started with my leather bracelets.
How would you describe the Enzo Escoba style?
Our style ranges from casual to streetwear. Above all, I wanted sustainable and fair textiles, which you can't see right away. It can't be that hard to produce sustainable and cool clothes, I thought. And since then, we’ve been focusing on streetwear.
How exactly did the leap from jewelry to textiles come about?
I never really wanted to be in textiles because the industry is difficult and requires a lot of research. But after starting my label, lots of my friends asked me if I could print my logo on their T-shirts. Since my parents have their own sports label, we own the necessary machinery. At some point, I noticed that people were more and more asking for textiles. Then I sat down and researched where there were suppliers who could make things for me in line with our values.
One of your values is sustainability. How do you put this into practice in your company?
Sustainability is one of our core topics, regardless of which area we’re operating in. I’m a friend of slow fashion and the circular economy. We recently launched the Enzo Escoba Fashion Circle where our customers have the chance to return their products to us. They get a voucher for them – regardless of whether they’ve handed in the clothes after a year and a half or three years. We reprocess the clothes and sell them on. Right from the start, I wanted to take ethical, ecological and economic aspects into account.
How many pieces from Enzo Escoba do you have in your wardrobe?
The sweater I'm wearing right now is one of two bits of clothing in my wardrobe – both from the 2019 collection. I don't want to refill my closet with every release.
In the fashion industry, there are constant calls for new styles, trends and collections. How do you reconcile that with the idea of sustainability?
With the slow fashion approach, for example. You can launch new collections and still be part of the slow fashion movement. That can be implemented in a wide variety of ways. With us, for example, you won't find a huge selection of colors. There's a T-shirt in three colors, not twenty.
What does a stylish congress outfit look like?
That depends on the location, I’d say. What always looks good for a congress are dark brown chinos and a jacket. For women, I think a loose pantsuit with a smart short coat is great – with a tight-fitting shirt underneath.
When you think about sustainability in fashion, you also arrive at the issue of longevity. What do I have to look out for if I want to use clothing for a long while, including for conventions?
We provide every customer with washing instructions. I'm not saying that people can't wash properly. But many people are surprised when they’re told that 30° is enough and that no dryer or fabric softener is necessary. That’s all a lot of stress for natural yarns. It's also worth looking for natural yarns that are pesticide- and chemical-free and last a long time.
What are the no-go’s for a convention outfit?
That depends. When we're in Munich, leather pants with sneakers are a no-go for me. The first thing I look down at is my shoes, and that's a no-go for me, just like sandals with socks. But that’s not how you usually walk around at a congress. Likewise a sweatpants outfit. Of course it depends on the person, but I wouldn't allow myself to wear that at a congress.
Are there streetwear trends you can incorporate into a convention look?
A boxer-cut t-shirt with a more intricate print or a centered, small logo with smart pants and nice white sneakers can look very cool. And with t-shirts you can also play with other details like crew necks with a higher collar – that's stylish and not underdressed for congresses or events.