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Sara Maino is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of VOGUE ITALIA, and the fashion force behind Vogue Talents. A stylist and talent scout, she is a tireless supporter of new generation designers and a guiding light for creativity in the fashion industry.

Clare sat down with Sara during Milan fashion week Spring ‘19, recording this interview in the kitchen of designer Tiziano Guardini’s hectic HQ - he was busy in the next room doing fittings for the Green Carpet Awards.

In 2017, Guardini was the recipient of the Franca Sozzani Best Emerging Designer award at the Green Carpet event. The accolade is named after the iconic, and sorely missed, former Italian Vogue editor, who passed away in 2016.

Franca was Sara’s aunt, and you’re going hear a bit about how Sara started in fashion, and what it’s like to work with family: Sara’s mother is Carla Sozzani, the creative genius behind, 10 Corso Como. But Sara is a fashion visionary in her own right. She figured out, way ahead of the pack, that sustainable fashion matters, and created the Vogue Next Green Talents program specifically for sustainable designers.

Sara rarely attends mainstream fashion shows, preferring to comb all corners of the globe in search of the fresh, the unexpected, the brilliant, the voices of fashion’s future. Just don’t say she discovers them: “I never see myself as discovering them, only giving them the spotlight at the right moment.”

“Through our Vogue Talents program, Sara has pushed and encouraged new talent to break the mould, but goes a step further by helping them find the mentoring, funding and media spotlight necessary to have staying power, too.” - Franca SozZani

We can’t think of anyone who’s done more for young designers. So it’s fitting that we hear from some of them too. This Episode also features interviews with some of sustainable fashion’s new guard, who were in Milan in September: Guardini, Sindiso Khumalo, Nathalie Ballout and HUEMN’s Shyma Shetty.

Sara Maino with Franca Sozzani Green Carpet Award for Best Emerging Designer 2018 winner, Gilberto Calzolari. The model wears Calzolari’s distinctive gown made from used coffee been sacks. Also pictured Jeremy Irvine, Desirée Bollier, Armie Hammer.

Sara Maino with Franca Sozzani Green Carpet Award for Best Emerging Designer 2018 winner, Gilberto Calzolari. The model wears Calzolari’s distinctive gown made from used coffee been sacks. Also pictured Jeremy Irvine, Desirée Bollier, Armie Hammer.


Designer Shyma Shetty

Designer Shyma Shetty

HUEMN is a fashion-label-cum-art-collective run by Shyma Shetty and Pranav Mishra who met studying fashion at NIFT in Bangalore. They make modern streetwear that employs traditional craft, and collaborate with artists on photography and other projects - Mishra is also poet. Bandana Tewari calls them “the cool kids of Indian fashion” and in 2016, they won the Vogue India Fashion Fund competition. This season, HUEMN was part of the Vogue Talents Who Is On Next? showcase during Milan fashion week at the Palazzo Cusani. They’re latest collection was inspired by Kashmiri landscapes and life.

Notes from the interview…

The HUEMN Project is a vertical where we explore multiple aesthetics outside of what we do seasonally at Huemn, not confined to traditional ideas of seasons and products. With a ethos that is enriched with individual voices in our communities, crosscurrents in culture, alternative art and a collaborative effort and love for all things handmade, these editions are an initiative to encourage dialogue in fashion where the why and how becomes more pressing than the what. This is us at Huemn, drawing outside the lines.

INDIA FASHION WEEK is is a bi-annual fashion week organised and promoted by the Fashion Design Council of India. 

INDIAN CRAFT TRADITIONS. “Across India, the art of weaving and embroidery is dying off,” notes Racked. But a new gen of designers is working with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other organisations like Self Employed Women’s Association, a trade union, to sustain the crafts.

EMBROIDERY. Embroidery in India includes dozens of embroidery styles that vary by region and clothing styles. “Influenced by the various cultures that India has imbibed through innumerable invasions and settlements, embroidery from every region has a flavour of its own. So much so that you can name the state an embroidery is from just by looking at it. Be it the robust hand work of Gujarat or the subtle and intricate weaves of UP’s Chikankari, each embroidery stands out for its unique style of stitches and use of fabrics and colours. Nurtured in the hinterlands of India by humble craftsmen, Indian embroideries, today, have the world fawning over them. While India boasts of a zillion embroidery styles, we have handpicked some that have been inspiring generations of designers from across the world.” via Craftsvilla.

KASHMIR. Jammu and Kashmir is a state in northern India. Located mostly in the Himalayan mountains, it shares borders with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. Kashmir is widely regarded as the world's most militarized zone—the region has witnessed three major wars between India and Pakistan, another limited war between India and China, numerous border skirmishes, high mountainous warfare, an ongoing insurgency, a Hindu exodus and internal civilian unrest. Via Wikipedia. It’s also insanely beautiful.


Designer Tiziano Guardini

Designer Tiziano Guardini

Cruetly-free, vegan designer Tiziano Guardini won the 2017 Green Carpet Award for best emerging designer. He showed at Helsinki fashion week in 2018 (listen to our interview with HFW founder Evelyn Mora, here). Guardini is a soulful innovator who designs to celebrate of nature. His Spring ‘19 collection was titled The Sustainable Kit and brimmed with bright prints inspired by the tropics. He used sustainable denim and cotton, Econyl regenerated nylon, and even his buttons and labels are made from recycled materials.

Notes from the interview…

THE HUMMING BIRD is the star of an African folk tale and the inspiration for Tiziano Guardini’s Spring ‘19 collection. When a fire rips through the forest, this tiny bird works tirelessly to make a difference, by carrying water, drop by drop, from a nearby lake to extinguish the flames. It’s a metaphor, of course, for how one individual can make a difference, and help save the planet.

AHIMSA SILK is also known as peace silk. It is produced without harming the silk worm, and allows the moth to fly free. Read all about it in Chapter 15 of Wardrobe Crisis.

CASTOR OIL yarn is an actual thing. Guardini worked with EVO, an innovative new yarn from Fulgar, to make his polo shirts. It’s manufactured from a totally renewable resource and the yarn is biodegradable.

Tiziano Guardini Spring ‘19

Tiziano Guardini Spring ‘19

MUSIC. Guardini closed his Spring ‘19 show with a lap around the catwalk to the tune of Aretha Franklin’s Respect. Asked what drives his fashion vision, he refers to Madonna’s 1989 hit, Express Yourself.

CERTIFICATION matters. Guardini works with companies that certify organic fibre content and sustainable production methods.

ISKO is big. The Turkish company opened a 300,000 m2 manufacturing plant in 1989, making it the world’s largest denim manufacturer under one roof. With 1,500 high-tech automated looms, global distribution of employees and production capacity of 250 million meters of fabric per year, their portfolio includes more than 25,000 products. It’s the only denim mill in the world to be awarded with the Nordic SWAN Ecolabel - for its sustainable Earth Fit collection. Read more here. 

THE IDEA that creativity needs to be aligned with mindfulness and respect for nature.


Designer Sindiso Khumalo

Designer Sindiso Khumalo

Sindiso Khumalo is known for her wonderful, colourful prints and her deeply considered ethical approach, that’s big on empowerment. She has worked with the EFI, and in 2015 was selected by Sara to take part in Vogue Talents Who Is On Next? Dubai where she won the Womenswear Award. In Milan this time, she showed as part of the Camera Moda Fashion Hub Market.

Notes from the interview…


LONGEVITY. Khumalo’s ideal fashion items are future heirlooms. “I want to buy things with good quality materials that you can pass to your children,” she says.

THE COLOUR PURPLE is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, focused on the life of African-American women in the Southern United States in the 1930s. In 1985 it was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg.

HERITAGE. Khumalo has Zulu and Ndbele heritage. She started designing textiles in 2006, and has developed a distinctive print hand-writing inspired by African plants, animals, motifs and colours.

LOCALISM. Khumalo says the advantages of manufacturing close to where you are include communication, the ability to

WHO IS ON NEXT? DUBAI was held during the Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience. The competition featured 25 collections, and was sponsored by Yoox.com

BROTHER VELLIES is an accessories label of handcrafted shoes and handbags from South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco, founded by Aurora James.

FASHION HUB Market is an event put on by Camera Moda during Milan fashion week to showcase the work of emerging designers.


Designer Nathalie Ballout

Designer Nathalie Ballout

Nathalie Ballout is one to watch for her unique, hand-dyed and embellished upcycled denim. A London College of Fashion grad, she focuses on one-offs and limited editions. Her artful creations belie their origins - you’d never know that they started out as trash. Nathalie was also part of the Vogue Talents Who Is On Next showcase for Spring 19.

Notes from the interview…

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT. Nathalie has been using zips and trims from the denim waste she sources as as well as the fabric. Everything can we useful, she says. “People my grandparents’ age didn’t use to waste like we do, they used to mend things more.”

LIMITED EDITIONS & THE ALLURE OF THE UNIQUE. “There will be slight changes, but that’s what I like, because then people will be buy their own piece.”

SMALLER BRAND ETHOS. Challenging the idea that growth is always good.

BEES are the world's most important pollinator of food crops. It is estimated that one third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees, but also by other insects, birds and bats.



Until next time,

Clare x