Cultural Sustainability has been part of my childhood,
It is about the heritage of crafts passed by my grandparents,
A form of education so intimate that I cannot separate it from my way of life.
It is part of who I am and what I want to bring to the world,
A universal language that could speak in Bangladesh, in Portugal, in Brazil…
It is the warp and weft that connects us all in an ecosystem where every thread is valuable, connected, interdependent,
A mindset that makes life fuller, more beautiful. „
Simone Simonato, Founder of SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™
UPCYCLING: sustainable practice for hundreds of years
The practice of reusing materials to create new products of higher value has been at the core of craftsmanship for hundreds of years. Repair, Reuse and Repurpose are practices that have been intuitively applied by artisans, craftspeople and local communities many years before industrial fashion production came into existence.
Artisans, craftspeople and local communities have been, and still are, upcycling and recycling without knowing these terms that the fashion industry uses today. These practices have always been part of their lifestyle. In this sense, we have access to a global library of culturally embedded sustainable production and sustainable consumption practices.
What does Cultural Sustainability mean at SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™?
Upcycling is a culturally sustainable practice performed by artisans, craftspeople and local communities for generations, under different names and in various techniques.
SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ is a lifestyle brand that aims to develop upcycling processes for use at scale. This means working with as many artisan and craft communities in different geographies and changing consumer mindset to embrace upcycling as part of their lifestyle – both in the form of products and practices.
For SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ cultural sustainability means:
- treating artisans, craftspeople and local communities as upcycling experts and developing knowledge partnerships with them to minimize the negative environmental impact of the textile industry;
- recognizing the multifaceted value of traditional craftsmanship and enabling the transmission of traditional textile knowledge from generation to generation by creating products from textile waste while preserving traditional crafts;
- manufacturing the products 100% in the local communities with which SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ collaborates;
- developing educational spaces for knowledge exchange and training of artisans and craftspeople in new techniques, facilitating cross-cultural access to textile knowledge, dissemination of this knowledge within the community at large, and enabling communities to contribute with their culturally sustainable know-how in other areas and partnerships.
Cultural Sustainability Principles at SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™
Cultural Sustainability Principles inform our design vision at SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™. We have identified them through research and the long-term, valuable experience of working alongside artisans, craftspeople and local communities. These are:
- Timeless aesthetic – creating textile accessories and homeware of unique quality, longevity and desirability, meant to be passed on from generation to generation.
- Zero-waste – mirroring the mindful use of resources in craft production, SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ strives to reutilize the waste fabrics to the maximum through zero waste pattern making and manual practices.
- Environment-friendly energy consumption Manual practices, such as weaving on a handloom and many other traditional textile manufacturing techniques, require only human energy, thus reducing the carbon footprint of textile production by SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™;
- Use of the local terminology related to textiles – SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ is aware that use and promotion of the local textile know-how related language is essential for enabling cultural sustainability and cultural continuity;
- Promoting interdependence and interrelationship which are essential for socio-cultural wellbeing –SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ weaves connections between various artisans, craftspeople, local communities and costumers, through the products it develops and the educational experiences it provides.
Cultural Sustainability Actions SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™
How do we put these principles into practice?
- We work with local techniques from the regions where our knowledge partners are located. We do not alter the technique, instead we build from it.
- Traditional techniques are an integral part of the development of SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™products and services.
- SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ sustains traditional crafts and continuation of cultural narratives. This includes crafting culturally sensitive communication and promotion and inclusion of individuals and communities with diverse socio-cultural backgrounds and ethnic identities.
- The artisans and craftspeople we collaborate with are our partners, not our employees. We co-create theSICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ products. They apply their traditional skills and knowledge that materialize the products.
- SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ documents the creative process to understand how sustainability is addressed in the craft processes.
- SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ design processes are based on the limitation of the available materials and of the craft techniques which determine the modular shapes and forms of the products. It embodies the highest appreciation for material and human resources.
- SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ emphasizes the unique interpretation of the craftsperson within each traditional practice. The textile waste is upcycled in a dialogue with craftsmanship. This low energy manufacturing process requires no water or extra dyes and implies using the original colors and textures of the waste to enhance the vibrancy of each gesture.
- SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ creates human connections by creating new opportunities. Working with traditional processes and using upcycling to create new products, we provide a solution to the textile waste problem of mass production in the fashion industry while creating a new business model based on knowledge partnership with artisans and craftspeople.
- SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ provides Upcycling Education in the form of workshops and consultancy sessions. SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ creates an opportunity to recuperate traditional techniques and facilitates fair and equitable access to this know-how beyond the textile ecosystem.
SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ is part of the Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative® Network
Since 2020 we are part of the Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative® (CIPRI) Network, an initiative that acts as a mediator in relationships between different stakeholders in the fashion and craft ecosystem, and supports cultural sustainability as a form of education and promotion of cultural heritage and Traditional Cultural Expressions. Committed to work alongside CIPRI towards a better legal status for artisans, craftspeople and local communities, we carefully consider the 3Cs‘ Rule: Consent. Credit. Compensation©.) Framework when engaging with them.
SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ ensures artisans, craftspeople and local communities enter collaborations based on Free, Prior and Informed Consent and provides contracts that ensure the terms, conditions and expectations of both parties are represented.
SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ credits each craftsperson for their input, proudly acknowledging them on the product label. It also transparently communicates the source of the traditional know-how and the geography where the products are handcrafted. All SICA textile products are signed by the craftsperson who handcrafted them. Proudly made in Bangladesh is central to SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ communication.
In addition to monetary compensation ensured through fair, timely and advance payment, SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™ provides training and mentoring programs where the artisans, craftspeople and local communities are enabled to participate in creating new futures.
Created by MONICA BOȚA-MOISIN, Cultural IP Lawyer, Cultural Sustainability Consultant and Founder of the Cultural Intellectual Property Rights Initiative® and SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN™. ©SICA UPCYCLING DESIGN 2023.