On October 8, US group VF Corp. hosted a meeting with journalists at its EMEA headquarters in Stabio, Switzerland, presenting the organisation of some of its brands, among them The North Face, Timberland, Vans, Eastpak and Napapijri. FashionNetwork.com met with Bhavesh Naik, director of innovation and design at Napapijri, who explained in general terms how his department functions, and talked about the brand’s product development strategy.
FashionNetwork.com: What is currently your biggest challenge?
Bhavesh Naik: Our biggest challenge is eco-sustainability. We must ask ourselves ‘where are we living, and what do we wish our future to be?’ Eco-responsibility is a commitment we make with consumers. It is our responsibility. It is essential to do our best in everything we do, to be uncompromising. Of course, the goal is to sell our products, to make sure that people wear them.
FNW: How do you achieve this in practice?
BN: We have eight people working on product design, and 18 who are technical designers. We have a fabric ‘library’, where we store materials, fabrics and ongoing R&D work. This facility is shared between Napapijri, with offices on one side of it, and Timberland, with offices on the other side. These two brands, like the whole of VF Corp., work with weavers and technical fabric manufacturers that are genuine partners, and support us in developing sustainable materials. Here, we have everything we need to develop our collections and, especially, new textile products.
All the fabrics, materials and accessories we are interested in get tested here, at our own laboratories in Stabio. If we have any doubts, we test them again and again. New products must be sound and also meet expectations in terms of impermeability, wind resistance, thermal properties and more.
While digital technology has become essential to the way we work, it is also important that we show you our mood boards, which are available to all our design staff: they are traditional mood boards, made with images and sketches on paper. It is crucial to be able to have physical contact with the fabrics we use, to be able to see and touch them, and the same with our archives, which enable us to delve into and research products from previous collections.
FNW: Which technological and eco-responsible innovations do you wish to highlight?
BN: This summer, we announced the launch of the Skidoo Infinity anorak , which is going on sale on October 21. It is a 100% recyclable anorak which puts Napapijri firmly into the environmentally friendly, circular fashion arena. It took us many years to finalise this product, which we regard as almost revolutionary. Infinity is made using only one material. The main fabric used is Econyl, a ‘regenerated’ nylon produced by Aquafil, while the padding and the trimmings are made in Nylon 6.
Two other lines are part of Napapijri’s eco-responsible Futurewear programme. The first is Superlight, our first foray into ‘no fur, no down’ territory. The main features are its lightness and the warmth it generates thanks to a thermal-fibre padding. In the Ze-knit range, each item is knitted by digital technology from one single thread, dyed with an eco-friendly process. This technology enables us to economise on raw materials and water, and to avoid using chemical dyes. It also enhances each garment’s ergonomic properties.
These innovations are driven by a desire to make our customers’ daily urban life and travels easier, providing comfort, thermal regulation, lightness and ergonomic design. Always with the same obligation, which is more like a mission, a raison d’être: to be as eco-responsible as possible. And, in the medium term, our entire collection will be fully recyclable.