MAGAZINE January 20th, 2021


WHAT IF upcycle is a service that promotes a sustainable approach to production, creating quality functional unique accessories, made out of scraps, stock or unsold products. Its founder explains in detail its philosophy and modus operandi. 

Tell us about your journey and how your brand came about. 

My name is Raen and I am a designer who looks to the future.
My story started in Milan, when after graduating in Graphic Design and Art Direction at the NABA I founded “Nati con la Camicia” (born with the shirt), a brand of accessories made using fabrics of shirts, which I bought per kilo, from the excess stock of companies.
It led me to sell the band’s collections throughout Italy, from small boutiques to big names like Luisaviaroma, through department stores like the Rinascente and also to sign collaborations with companies such as 10 Corso Como.
After five years I closed the chapter of 'Nati con la Camicia' and I started working as an employee in several companies, coming therefore into contact with the world of fast fashion, going for business trips to the Far East like Hong Kong and Bangladesh.
In 2020, during lockdown, I found myself reflecting on the road I was taking, always asking myself the same question: where am I going?
Aware of my ethics and the new life balance emerging, I decided to commit myself to WHAT IF upcycle because I firmly believe we need to start creating profit through a business model based on sustainability. I’ve seen too many rags taken for clothing in my previous jobs, I think we have to stop and reflect, and although it’s not easy take a step back.
WHAT IF upcycle is the merchandising of the future: We start by analyzing our customer’s discarded, unsold and redundant stock and we come up with a tailored merchandising concept, leaving out all prior logic of collections, seasonality and gender.
We cannot continue to think and work with the old market logic, that’s why I decided to create a service related to my experience, my values and work ethic.

How do you carry tradition forward while still keeping up with the times? 

Starting from our roots, making them our own and facing up to ourselves, but at the same time all within a globalized world. We have to approach this without prejudice, but with the desire to learn and improve. The important thing is that globalisation should not make us equal, but enrich us, encouraging a stimulating dialogue based on respect.
WHAT IF upcycle works with all those small and medium-size manufacturing companies in its area that, unfortunately nowadays, are suffering the big groups’ decision to produce "outside”. Our aim is to provide them with a quality service in a world where upcycling is currently still considered to be artisanship. 

Which of those artisan techniques which form part of your heritage do you still use today? 

Researching materials like their structure, their combination, how much the fabrics can be pulled and their different weights, all of this is a novelty as they are new necessities which didn’t exist before. Other important aspects are the experience, know-now, quality and reliability of the companies we select and collaborate with in the production process.


What are your projects for the future and what are your strategies to get through this moment? 


The objective is to innovate by creating something nobody has ever done before. To achieve this you need to really know your industry and understand your own business identity. Observing and researching how the world is changing are fundamental elements in order to make something unique without copying any other product. At the moment we are drawing up contracts to work in the best possible way with companies, proposing new collaborations coming together for the success of the end product.  






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