Matteo Ward: can fashion be genuinely sustainable?

Matteo Ward

How can we disrupte patterns in the fashion industry? Check out the interview with Matteo Ward, CEO and co-founder of WRÅD, who discussed with the us about the challenges of sustainable fashion.

Matteo Ward is today the CEO and co-founder of WRÅD, a Focus Design company pursuing its mission through Education, Innovation and Design & Consultancy. Prior to co-founding WRÅD, Matteo studied International Economics at Bocconi University and Business Sustainability Management at the University of Cambridge. He pursued a 6-year career with Abercrombie and Fitch where he covered the roles of Senior Manager in Germany and co-chair of the A&F Global Diversity and Inclusion Council.

In 2013, while working for Abercrombie and Fitch and traveling worldwide, Matteo became aware of a significant contradiction at the core of the company he was employed by, desiring to have positive impact on people through the fashion industry. This realisation occurred simultaneously with the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Savar, one of the most severe incidents in history to happen in a textile factory. The surrounding world demanded more attention, but how could be possible to build an inclusive environment with one of the most exclusive brands of the world? How to disrupt an entrenched pattern?

Fast fashion probably originated a long time ago in France, parallel to the need to stimulate demand for new goods to generate wealth. Since people naturally did not need many clothes, it was necessary to find a way to encourage them to buy. Thus, the idea of seasons was born, spring-summer and fall-winter to purchase more clothing than necessary, to conform by avoiding non-compliance with the aesthetic codes of fashion. After some time, the aspiration to produce more than what could be sustained emerged, primarily in England and the USA. Investment in the fashion industry for profitability automatically gave rise to the need for labour, which at that time translated into the exploitation of the most vulnerable categories, such as women and children, as well as natural resources, such as water. This process culminates around the nineteenth century with the ultimate desire to overcome nature to grow wealth and power; to achieve this goal, artificial and synthetic fibres were created.

Here is the point. It’s easy to discover new materials or technologies with the idea of reducing ecological impact, but this doesn’t automatically translate into sustainability in the fashion industry. Designing garments labelled as “sustainable” might seem straightforward, but the truth is, the idea of true sustainable fashion is elusive. We can either have fashion that lessens its environmental impact or fashion that amplifies its influence on society.

In this scenario, Matteo and his team collaborated to develop “Junk-Armadi pieni,” a docu-series designed to shed light on aspects often overlooked and concealed by major brands in the fashion industry.

According to Matteo, the sole approach to striving for increased sustainability in the fashion industry involves scrutinising and reassessing these three pivotal elements: the business model, the exploitation of people, and the relentless pursuit of success and superiority over nature, which is unnatural.


Matteo Ward participated as a guest speaker in Domus Academy’s ‘Disrupting Patterns Talks’ series – a dynamic, interdisciplinary lecture series that explores innovation across various design-related topics. During the talk, Matteo attempted, through a brief historical excursion, to convey the challenges and contradictions present in the fashion industry virtually from its origins, while also providing his perspective on possible ways to start “disrupting the pattern”.

Watch the full video and relive the interview!

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