WHO REALLy is…
CEO Blue Alchemy Srls & optimistic Italian alchemist
You can imagine, chemistry and denim often rhyme with pollution. Well, Luca Braschi will prove you wrong. And trust us, he knows what he is talking about. For 20 years now, Luca has made denim chemistry stand for something better. We can’t wait to dive deeper into the world of the Italian alchemist.
What does your job consist of?
Luca: In short, I’d say “Creating a better pair of jeans”. Where “better” means optimising the creation process by minimising the consumption of natural resources and its impact on the environment, all this while achieving an authentic and beautiful appearance. Or in other words, I’m a sustainable projects’ strategical consultant for both brands and manufacturers.
So you advise both brands and laundries?
Luca: Yes, generally with brands the work is initially focused on material research, the development of sustainable and innovative procedures, to then create collections referring to the season, specific concepts or projects. All this by creating production-friendly processes. With laundries, the work is similar but more dedicated on practical aspects, ranging from the creation of laser files for example or hand-made abrasion as well as process optimisation in order to make them as sustainable as possible, faster, practical and more economic. Often this includes converting to more eco-friendly chemicals and training the staff whom I share my experience and techniques with to improve all steps in production. My support ranges from chemistry and washing techniques to pure creativity and aesthetics.
What kind of job did you want to do when you were a kid?
Luca: My family produced wine from their own vineyards. During that young age I developed a passionate love for nature. I remember my walks in the woods and the time spent climbing trees, studying or reading books up there. I wrote some poetry too. That passion steered me in my choice of education: I studied at an agricultural institute and my idea was to become a national parks ranger. It seems like life had a different path for me.
How did you become a denim chemistry specialist?
Luca: After different jobs and getting married I moved to Rimini, a seacoast city in the north-east of Italy and joined Garmon Chemicals in 2001 – my first step into the denim world. I developed my knowledge of the chemicals applied to denim, dirtying my hands every day creating fashionable effects, comparing the reactions and behaviour of fabrics and had input from in depth research into products and fashion trends. Most of my time was devoted to these developments and from there my passion for denim grew. I travelled all over the world to share chemical innovations and the “Made in Italy” aesthetic, getting in contact with many great people and laundries that helped me improve my knowledge and techniques. I never stopped trying to improve and challenge myself to get better, trip by trip. Every trip was both personally and professionally enriching. So I learned “in the field” thanks to 20 years of sacrifices, work, passion and a pinch of curiosity. But, you know, in this denim world, you never stop learning and nobody can say “I’m done, I know everything”, so my love for denim pushes me to improve my knowledge day by day.
What is the craziest request a client ever asked, and how did you pull it off?
Luca: Sometimes I can’t tell who is crazier: me or the client. A particular experience happened to me some years ago when I made a collection for the American pop-singer Gwen Stefani, who requested cargo pants (typical of her streetwear style) that were sophisticated, elegant, comfortable, glamorous, fit for all occasions and using ecological materials. To sum up – a nice challenging mix! In the end I used an ecological fabric: Tencel, which is very comfortable and light-weight which I then applied an organic coating that gave an authentically aged and glossy look without weighing down the garment. Its shine increased by rubbing therefore while it is worn. The cargo pants had big pockets and nice metal zips details. She loved it.
Can chemistry be linked to activism?
Luca: Chemistry is everywhere and is part of our everyday life, it is important that its use in the fashion industry is responsible – something that has been missing for decades, starting from the raw materials (possibly bio-based) and the reduction and optimisation of order quantities; from the design stages to final finishing, from brands to producers. Both in industry and in everyday life, it is good to contribute as little impact to the environment as possible, it is a unique and precious gift. In recent years, I have witnessed increased awareness, but it is still not enough. My goal is to always take action towards more sustainable fashion. I believe the more we act, the greater our chances of speeding up change.
Except Italy, what is the country you have visited the most and why?
Luca: In my professional life I’ve had the opportunity to travel almost all over the world, but in the last 10 years my travels to the US have become more popular, especially Los Angeles. There, at the Jeans Innovation Center of the Fast Retailing group, representatives for brands such as; Uniqlo, JBrand, and Theory, where I’m part of a team of experts who develop and research the best sustainable solutions for the brands’ products.
How do you see the future of trade shows? Are tradeshows important for your work?
Luca: I believe that the interaction between people is irreplaceable as well as the perception of details and the beauty of everything that is real and tangible. Trade shows are not only commerce and marketing, but also enriching life experiences. Virtual shows are helpful tools, capable of shortening distances and can be a valid solution to reduce pollution from traveling, but they cannot replace trade shows. I find both useful for my work.
What is your very personal passion and why?
Luca: Music and hiking. Basically, I’m a curious person and I like to explore new places, so sometimes after a long hike I sit down admiring the nature scenery listening to some music, creating a sort of cinematic soundtrack of that real-life moment. I know, I’m not a conventional guy. 😉 I listen to almost every kind of music and I choose them to fit my mood or a situation. I’m constantly looking for new music that thrills me, so no commercial music or at least not the mainstream ones. I’m still in love with the creativity of 80’s rock and electronic music.
Did you have dreams as a child that then came true?
Luca: When I was a teenager, there was a big poster of Monument Valley in my bedroom, and I said to myself: sooner or later I’ll go there… After about 30 years with an intense pace of life, I managed to make that dream come true but the best thing about the emotions I felt in that moment is having shared them with my beloved family. I believe that through hard work, perseverance and faith, you can live your dreams.
If Hollywood would make a biopic about you, which director would you hire? And which famous actor would you choose to play your role?
Luca: This is a funny question! I would say Robert Zemeckis because he has directed some of the films I love, one above all is Forrest Gump. And the actor who plays my part must be a bit demented and ironic because I never want to take life too seriously, but at the same time a dreamer and not really handsome, so I chose Ben Stiller (also because I love Zoolander).
If you could have a dinner with somebody, dead or alive, famous or not, who would it be?
Luca: In recent times each of us has been severely tired of social distancing, I think everyone misses a nice dinner with the company of closest friends.
What would be the first question you would ask them?
Luca: Can I hug each of you?
Ask yourself the question you wish somebody asked you.
Luca: The question would be: Are you happy in your life? Do you have any regrets? I believe that life is mainly made up of choices and everyone finds their energy and courage in different ways; I have always found strength in God and happiness in gratitude. Over the course of my life, I have been blessed to have the wonderful opportunity to work with so many beautiful and talented people. I’ve shared a unique experience with many of them and no matter if I’ve met them once or a hundred times, each of them enriches my knowledge and personal experience and I thank them very much for it. No one is exempt from making mistakes, but of one thing I am sure: wherever you are, whatever you are doing, DO GOOD AND THE GOOD WILL COME TO YOU.