Reuse your legacy 

by Diane Sima

Sienna, Italy
10 steps from Chiesa di San Martino towards Via del Porrione, you will discover “Aloe&Wolf”, an enchades store, filled with garments and accessories, sparkling and competing with each other. The owner of this store is as you imagined plus ten times greater, a businesswoman with a strong perception towards elegance, smart attire, and “je ne sais quoi” ingredients that conceive every woman. With wisdom and a strong will, she managed to create an archive that contains up to thousands of exclusive pieces. While sipping my ginger tea, I asked her some questions and her answers were according to her spirit.

Buongiorno Mrs. Alessandra Aloe, thank you once again for your availability and kindness, first I would like to ask you what inspired you to create this surprising archive?
Ciao Diane, grazie infinite! Having such an archive is the dream of anyone who collects.
For me, it’s a wunderkammer in which to store all that has taught and moved me.
Firstly, it’s a very intimate place that becomes beautiful when shared with like-minded people cultivating the same passion.
In this archive, you will find me imagining, dreaming, and rearranging. Dare I say, it’s the place where my creativity feels the most freedom to roam.

Starting with 2004, from the beginning of the archive till today, did you find that the mindset of people towards vintage shopping changed drastically or in baby steps?
Vintage clothing has, since always, a very heterogeneous group of interested people, differing greatly in age, culture, motivation, and wealth. It’s a lot of fun. You will find fashion students creating magnificent looks on tight budgets, collectors ready to pay fortunes for pieces they’d had their eyes on for far too long, people searching for a splendid one-time garment for a gala event, or people simply passing by talking it all in without purpose. Their shallow interest notwithstanding, these casuals often find themselves falling in love with certain pieces and buying profusely. It’s always been this way.
The difference is that now we have many more. The community of people interested in vintage fashion has grown tremendously alongside a greater desire to be sustainable and unified.
What’s new trends to be repetitive, and realized with such little care to the point of it even being scary (fast fashion). Authentic vintage fashion is sought out with love. It has a quality that can’t be matched, and more than anything, it’s 100% sustainable.

What do you think can push people to buy reused, luxurious garments rather than fast fashion?
We choose vintage fashion because we want to be unique, drive by the desire to possess a garment that will also surely gain value with the passing of time. At the heart of it lies the pleasurable sensation of having made a well-thought-out choice that’s sustainable.

Historically speaking, what is the oldest piece that you possess inside the archive, and what does it represent for you?
I have a garment back to the early years of the 20th century that is all embroidered with little pearls from real shells on a satin crepe in an aqua blue color. This particular garment moves me for its gentleness, and for the obvious love and attention to detail that went into conceptualizing and making it.
It’s the story of a polished and elegant woman who I enjoy imagining must I’ve felt extraordinary the day she wore this garment.

Now, I dare to ask what is your favorite piece and your least favorite piece from your archive?
My favorite piece is a spectacular long skirt, lined in a circus.themes patchwork by 70s stylist Malcom Starr.
I love it for its irony, color, and rarity. Furthermore, my daughter Anna as a child would frequently draw it in her designs, and it’s because of this that it brings back so many memories.
The piece that I like the least is perhaps this red Woolrich down jacket from the year 2000 that I bought from a client in a moment of weakness, and whenever I see it, I ask myself “Why?”

Which is the most cherished memory that you have regarding the archive?
The space I found for the establishment of my archive was a grand empty room with beautiful flooring and an arched ceiling.
I had imagined it the way it is now: colorful and vivacious! There are still many projects and ideas to realize.

Which are the references that you rely on when you add an item to the archive?
Pure instinct! Undoubtedly, we thoroughly study fashion history, old runway shows, and catalogs.
However, in reality, everythings is spawned from intuition. Naturally, this intuition of mine can produce a blunder every now and then.

How long do you think it will take for the fashion industry to achieve 50% sustainability?
It’s tough to say. Unfortunately, many of the projects regarding the topic of sustainability are shallow in purpose, and only to benefit the optics of it all. Therefore, reutilizing remnant fabrics, or reinventing garments that haven’t been purchased can be an excellent start.
It would be ever more important to be able to trace the composition and workmanship of such textiles to render them 100% sustainable.
Nevertheless, all that is created has an environmental impact.
We need to consider all three phases: production, distribution and dismantlement.

Can you share with us two major steps in how we can contribute to the World’s sustainability program?
Certainly, we purchase as little as possible with greater love and attention, reutilizing and restoring what we already possess.
We reintroduce that which we no longer use, and above all, “Glory to all that is made in Italy!”

Save the past, love the future” I truly felt inspired by your saying and I feel it has an intimate meaning for you. Is it possible to share it with us?
Thank you for this beautiful question. My professor in the history of philosophy in high school used to always tell us. “We are history.
If you don’t know yourself and project a better future. History is made up of cycles and recycles light, shadows, and chiaroscuro.”
Harboring the past for a better future can give much back even in the frivolous world of fashion. Everything makes a comeback; reinterpreted, revisited, and corrected, but in order to so adequately, one must understand the past, and that which once was.
Although my job is to be a steward of the past, I don’t at all see this as nostalgic. I’m a custodian of the past for a more prosperous future. It’s for this reason that the most important and stylish fashion houses come to us to study our archives prior to developing their collections.
History will always represent a huge resource of inspiration for future fashion, we might as well re-use it.
This issue is all about sustainability and one of the main focal points is re-using. Being able to create this artistry revelation of a shoot with some original pieces from “aloe&wolf” archive and still reinforce readers with freshness it only proves that historical, icon pieces will forever be cherished, and while her future will not end at midnight, we can still relish in peace the glory of every season reluctantly to everyday fashion.

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