The Timeless Sustainability of Iluut: Interview with Silvia Stella


Being trendy and environmentally friendly at the same time?
There are 3 girls ready to help you! 3 girls divided by distance, one is Italian, one British and one Finnish, but united by the same passion and willingness to make a better world with a touch of style: this energy and research of the best materials have led them to the birth of Iluut, a brand that promotes timeless garments and adaptable to any personality, while keeping the prices accessible, plus the possibility to trace the production’s paths of the pieces at any time, in the name of transparency, the same one promoted in any possible way by Fashion Revolution.

We met Silvia Stella Osella, the brand’s textile designer in Milan and we were immediately conquered by her desire to get involved, to change the world and to create something beautiful and being the bearer of a positive message at the same time. With the following questions we tried to know something more about her and the brand Iluut, trying in this way to be a part of this admirable purpose together also with Elina Cerell and VJ Taganahan, the other two members of this incredible trio.

Who is Silvia Stella, how would you define yourself?

I am a textile designer and a fashion and interior designer (since recently) consultant.
I worked for 8 years in some big international textile companies, and now it’s been two years since I started my own project as a textile designer: I take care of designing everything, also when it comes to furniture; in parallel, I carry on a consultancy activity on colors, trends and more material parts, maintaining a fixed focus on prints.

What distinguishes your style as a textile designer?

It is a difficult question, I cannot say if I have a personal style because after spending years in this sector you learn to set aside yourself to understand how to satisfy customers, declining trends in the different styles of the various brands, it is an experience from which you learn a lot.
Now that I am on my own I’m trying to get back to deal with the personal aspect and it is with Iluut that I’m realizing this possibility, even if the style is Scandinavian and characterized by softer colors, I still feel it as mine.

When was the first time that you fell in love with a fabric and when did you see your idea take life?

Already as a child, I was interested in the material aspect of things and in drawing, plus my house was full of different fabrics since my mom loved decorations. Then I studied illustration and I ended up there by chance, I like the idea of seeing my drawings on a concrete plan. I can’t remember the exact first time but I remember the first time I saw someone wearing my designs, it was just weird!

Is there a project that you have followed with particular passion, which has left you something?

Iluut, because it is the first project that was really mine but many others too, such as experiences, people and teachings.

As a Textile Designer, how did you realize that something was wrong in the industry, thus leading you to the idea of realizing something on your own?

By working in textile companies that also deal with the part of production you get in touch with the part related to the marketing and the processes not known by the average user in which I found several things that look just wrong, such as overproduction; It is a mechanism that for years has had a very high impact on the environment.

By living it in first person and understanding how much merchandise is thrown away, I realized that it did not make sense; it is comparable to the waste of food or anything else.

What is Iluut? And what is it for you?

It is the very strong will from people who have worked in this area and who have touched with their own hands what is happening to the environment and to a certain industry, and who consequently want to try to lead to a change, even if a small one. We wondered for some time if it would have made sense to create new products, but if a brand is able to instill a new awareness in people by making them see what is behind it, through a process of transparency, then it is worth it: we produce something durable and eco-sustainable in an attempt to raise the public’s awareness.

 How hard is it for you to find the right fabrics?

I didn’t think it would be so difficult, it took us a year and a half for the first production!
In 2016 we thought that there were many people to propose eco-sustainable products and instead we found there were very few; For me, it is very important to share the production process with the end customers and, as a result, the standards are extremely high, even if this takes longer.

Can you tell us something about the style of Iluut?

Just a little because it was born from Elina, who is Finnish, we follow a clean Scandinavian style that we like anyway: the aesthetic taste is the key feature for making something able to last for a long time, so it serves as a neutral product that you do not get tired of wearing and that can be carried forward in a contemporary key, characterized by good materials and durable finishes.

Which is your favorite piece among these? Can you tell us something about it?

We have worked so much on all the garments and on any aspect that with each of them we have a maniacal relationship! But I particularly like the shirt because it represents a little the goal that we have: it is a difficult piece that sartorially must be impeccable, it requires a hard work to adapt it to every body; I am very happy with what it represents because it has been made by distance (between Milan, London and Helsinki), and because when it reached the public, it got the result that we were hoping for, which was reaching different people; We had a super positive feedback.

On the issue of sustainability, what do you think is still missing in Italy? Would it take more education at school for example or by those who make such textiles?

It all starts with the awareness of the final consumer. That’s what Fashion Revolution is doing by starting from the schools to explain the various passages that lie behind a dress; In addition, the campaign that pushes people to tag brands by asking them “Who made my clothes?” surely over time it will put pressure on those brands to bring them to invest in sustainability. It is a problem that we have in Italy as in the rest of the world even if in the North-European Countries there is perhaps a greater attention, but it’s generally everywhere. We should reach the same awareness that in the meantime we have conquered with food, which is an industry of equal impact: the products that we wear are like the ones that we eat in the end, it is a matter of education that is lacking at the base and that takes time.

You had also talked about keeping the costs low…

In many have asked us why we had chosen such a price range: we could never compete with the big chains that have different productions behind, but we still tried to keep the margin very low because the big problem at the base of sustainability is that either is not very interesting aesthetically point of view or is too expensive.
We wanted to disprove this fact so not to hear more excuses that could block the investment in sustainability.

You are in 3 and you are in charge of different aspects: what is the process behind Iluut?

We start with a research of trends because we want our items to be contemporary, so to understand where we want to invest and the general mood regarding style, colors and shapes. Then the sketches of the garments are realized and we see them together; In the case of our last dress we followed a shared design process by asking people to vote the model, the fibers and the preferred color; starting from there we created the final piece.

At the same time we carry on the research of fabrics and fibers, asking companies for the novelties in these areas that might interest us, for example, still talking about the last dress is made of 100% Tencel, a completely biodegradable and innovative fiber. Finally we pass to the prints and we do the various tests: all this happens online, the distance is not too much of a problem since we know the path we want to follow, even if it requires a greater commitment.

 What is our dream for Iluut?

I would like Iluut to become an increasingly complex project, above all, from an educational point of view.
It must create awareness, besides being a brand but it should have a biggest purpose, that in our own way we are already doing and pursuing.