portraits

On June 2019 the Prada launches Re-Nylon, introducing a collection of iconic bags in regenerated nylon ECONYL in partnership with the textile yarn producer Aquafil.

Giulio Bonazzi

Chairman and CEO of Aquafil SpA

Having grown up working for the family business, a leading producer of synthetic fibres for over 50 years, in 2011 Giulio Bonazzi took a gamble on sustainable design and created ECONYL®, a recycled nylon that can be recycled indefinitely itself.

Working with Prada was a dream come true.

"My adventure at Aquafil began when I was still a child. My parents founded the company in 1956, specialising first in producing waterproof jackets and then synthetic fibres and fabrics, and cementing its position as one of the leading firms in the world in this field.

I had an international education, in America, Belgium and Slovenia, a country that is leading the way on environmental issues. It was an exciting journey that taught me not to be afraid of new challenges.

Respect for nature has always formed part of my identity, and it was inevitable that I would go on to play an active role in sustainability. Our planet's resources are extremely limited; it is clear that there is no time to waste. That said, our sector has been showing encouraging signs for some time. 

Taking into account research and development, my project began just over ten years ago. ECONYL® is a 100% regenerated and regenerable yarn. Using a range of chemical and mechanical processes, we can recover and recycle the nylon from various types of waste, such as fishing nets, rugs, carpets and other waste materials, and turn it into a fibre ready for a practically infinite range of new uses.

Waste for me is not something to be disposed of, but a fantastic resource.

Whenever I see a landfill site, I see a goldmine.

In its early stages, this technology not only uncovered a global demand for eco-friendly products, but also a growing and increasingly receptive market. And our partners – clients, suppliers, institutions, research centres and universities alike – turned out to be similarly sensitive to environmental issues. The results we achieved would not have been possible without the network that has formed around our product over the years.  

The interest shown by large brands confirmed we were on the right track.

Our meeting with Prada, the first brand to introduce nylon to the luxury clothing sector, was in all senses a dream come true.

Thinking about this partnership, the thing I am most proud of is that it came about entirely naturally as the two companies developed. Prada was taking its own steps to becoming more environmentally friendly, and became interested in our product of its own accord, in part because ECONYL® yarn does not restrict designers’ creativity or work in any way.

Here at Aquafil we love the beauty of the world around us and want to help to preserve it, and discovering the beautiful things that can be made with the fruits of our labour is extremely satisfying. Seeing how ECONYL® takes shape in Prada’s expert hands is exciting for us and marks an important milestone, with many more successes on the horizon.

The journey that led here has been long, and, to be honest, this is only the beginning – every day offers new discoveries, and it is inspiring to know that we still have huge learning opportunities ahead, including through collaborations like our work with Prada. 

It has not always been easy. In 2007, when I first started to introduce my vision of creating regenerated, and particularly regenerable, products to the company, I was met with a great deal of criticism. However, if you're driven by passion, you don't let it get you down, and you want to continue experimenting and improving day after day. It is this spirit that most unites us with a company like Prada, which, like us, has innovation in its DNA.

I believe this project is very important for future generations, but at the same time it is young people who are showing us the path to follow, through their admirable behaviour and their increasing focus on environmental issues. They are our future, and I can't wait for them to teach us how to improve!”

1

What is your motto?

"Design with the end in mind."
It’s important to always think about what comes next, just like in nature, where there is no waste, but instead everything is transformed into something else. 

2

How would you describe ECONYL®?

ECONYL® is a product that respects the environment by not taking anything from it. It is an infinitely recyclable and extremely versatile resource that offers endless possibilities.

3

How would you sum up the ECONYL® project?

Providing a solution to help reduce environmental pollution through a tangible design.

4

What one word defines your partnership with Prada?

A great challenge.

5

One thing that Prada has taught Aquafil, and one thing that Aquafil has taught Prada?

Innovation is the strong point of both our companies. Prada was at the forefront of using nylon to create products that are almost works of art. Aquafil's contribution was to create an extraordinary material that means this beauty can also be sustainable.