Sustainable Design Education: FIT’s Connecting The Dots Symposium and Insights from Giusy Bettoni


C.L.A.S.S. founder Giusy Bettoni is educating the next generation of sustainable designers and entrepreneurs this week in NYC with a packed program that includes workshops on the latest in sustainable fabrics and natural dyes, to an eco-scavenger hunt through New York City’s garment district.

Fashion Institute of Technology is hosting Connecting the Dots, a forward-thinking three-day symposium for business owners, industry workers and students to learn about the positive impacts of taking a more sustainable design approach to the fashion, beauty, and health industries.

Beginning Wednesday, July 10, the event includes 

workshops, demonstrations, panels, an eco-fashion show, and a sustainable fashion tour around Manhattan. “I am very excited that we are able to offer 3 days of events around sustainable fashion, health and beauty,” said Christine Helm, Director of the Enterprise Center at FIT, “We are building on the excitement, exchange of ideas and knowledge that we started with last year’s event.”

giusyand livia

In addition to running a textile, fashion, home and design business, Bettoni (left) is also the Green Carpet Challenge’s (founded by Livia Firth, right) go-to woman. (Image: FIT )

Milan-based Giusy Bettoni, cofounder of C.L.A.S.S., an international eco-platform that promotes environmentally friendly products and Livia Firth’s co-collaborator on the Green Carpet Challenge, will provide the keynote address entitled, “Welcome to the Third Dimension, Where Design and Innovation Meet Responsibility.”

We caught up with Bettoni to learn more about sustainable design:

Rowena Ritchie: What do you want people to know about the fashion, home and design products they currently buy? 

Giusy Bettoni: I believe it would be absolutely great for them to discover the majority of products they desire are not just performing from a design and functional perspective, but also from an environmental level which is incredibly low.

RR: Can you tell us about what led you to set up C.L.A.S.S. and how your organization creates more environmentally friendly products for the fashion, home and design industries? 

GB: I have a 30 year-long background in raw materials, fibers, yarns and fabrics. My goal was to turn them into something beautiful, precious, innovative and most importantly, eco-friendly. I founded C.L.A.S.S. to concretely prove that these new horizons of sustainable fashion textiles are not just possible, but actually represent a new step in the value chain. We have now created  “ecolibraries“ where brands and designers can source new, high-tech and responsible materials coming from natural, organic, recycled and renewable resources—each fabric meets our criteria of design, innovation and responsible certification.

The missing ingredient in today’s design world is products that are designed responsibly. There’s real added value and competitive market advantage available to us by promoting these qualities to the consumers; that’s the other dimension I’ll be discussing at the symposium.

RR: Why are educational events like FIT’s symposium so important?

GB: Sharing information and experiences is key to this new way of working with textiles. Education is so important. It’s what C.L.A.S.S. is really all about. We are really pleased and honored to be invited by FIT to be part of this symposium, and will do our best to disseminate what we have learned in the last years. I truly believe sharing and networking is the key to this movement’s success.

RR: Do you think there is a difference in the way eco-friendly fashion is received by consumers in Europe versus the U.S?

GB: Each country has his own lifestyle and culture, but I have to admit that the perception of eco-friendly fashion is quite the same everywhere and the perception is not as good, unfortunately. That is why a symposium like this one is so vital.  We need to show that responsible innovation in fashion creates a competitive business advantage, and not just a nice story.

RR: Tell us about your latest project with Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge?

GB: The Green Carpet Challenge is a fantastic exercise, and we are always working at something special… I cannot go into detail now as it is early days, but I can say we are preparing something amazing for the next London Fashion Week!

 To learn more about Connecting the Dots: A Sustainable Fashion, Health and Beauty Symposium or to register for the event, click here, or call (212) 217-4000. 

Top Image: courtesy C.L.A.S.S.



Rowena Ritchie

Rowena is EcoSalon’s West Coast Fashion Editor and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.