Fashion and gender neutrality

Clothing hasn’t always been as gendered and binary as it is today; in different eras and cultures the gender roles have played a much smaller role in fashion, and the norms have changed or even reversed, as it’s the case for long gowns or skirts that largely disappeared from men’s wardrobes.

Gender neutral clothing has a long history of challenging the rigid, binary fashion norms, and is seeing a surge in popularity particularly among Gen-Z. For the most part however, it seems to be bringing traditionally masculine pieces to women, while the opposite is much rarer.

From the very beginning of our lives we learn to equate gender with sex and see gender roles play a part in every aspect of society, which makes it extremely hard for gender neutral clothing to really become mainstream. As a fashion brand, we want to understand how to navigate around this and give people the freedom to wear what they are happy with. In our view this shouldn’t only mean moving towards men’s clothing for women, or minimal and featureless designs for all, but also accepting that traditionally women’s clothing shouldn’t be confined to women and that our language and imagery should reflect that.

As an item of clothing that doesn’t currently carry a clear gender association, our Apollo mantel will be our first step in creating beautiful garments that can be worn by all.

Upcycling, an Ethical Solution

For us at Kurinji, the environment is important. That is why we put upcycling at the basis of our products.


In 1994 a German mechanical engineer, Reiner Pilz, coined the two opposite terms downcycling and upcycling. By the former he defined simple recycling, the reuse of a material to create a lower quality product: still better than throwing it away, but not good enough. By upcycling, on the other hand, he meant a reuse of that material to make a better product.

We want to preserve the environment, eliminate waste, creatively reuse everything that would otherwise risk being thrown away, decrease pollution and the impact of human activity on nature.

That is why our foundation is upcycling. New use, quality use. It is not easy to put into practice, it is a challenge to our ability to think, to ideate, to imagine. If we take a fabric in large production, we can do anything with it; if we take a dead stock, a limited amount of fabric that would be in danger of going unused, thrown away, we have to bend our imagination to see what it could become, within the limits imposed on us. 

But that is not enough. We do more. Those fabrics that are no longer enough for a new production line we salvage, we insert them as decorative elements within our patterns, giving them new life and turning them into a design element. A pocket, a color that appears unexpectedly on the sleeve of a suit when you fold the arm, the back of the collar of a shirt or jacket. 

Quality & Style while Respecting Nature

The origin of silk is shrouded in legend. Its production is traced back to China in the third millennium B.C., but there is evidence of its appearance as early as a few millennia earlier. From the beginning it was a luxury good, intended for royal families and high dignitaries. From China, production began to spread to neighboring countries, Japan, Korea and India. During the Roman Empire it also made its appearance in Europe through the caravan routes, those routes that in the nineteenth century would take the very name “Silk Road.” During Justinian’s empire (mid-6th century CE) two monks brought silkworm eggs hidden in their traveling sticks to Constantinople, starting a European manufacture of the yarn. 

How is silk obtained? From the silkworm cocoon of a particular species of butterfly (Bombyx mori). The insect creates it in three to four days with a single thread, which can be up to 1,500 meters long. The cocoon is used by the silkworm to carry out its metamorphosis, first into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly: thus in nature the insect makes a hole to exit the cocoon, damaging the integrity of the thread.

Therefore, in traditional production, the silkworm is killed before metamorphosis, usually by placing the cocoon in a dryer. For three meters of silk, about 2,800 cocoons must be used and as many potential butterflies killed.

This is why the production of a silk that does not eliminate insects, an “ethical” silk, also called “peace silk,” is becoming more popular. The cocoon is used only after the metamorphosis is complete and the insect has emerged; of course the thread is no longer intact, but it can be twisted as it is for other fibers. In India then many breeders create small cuts on the cocoon from which the silkworm can exit without creating any particular damage to the yarn (Ahimsā silk).

From another type of silkworm, Samia ricini, also found in Italy, which feeds on castor plants instead of mulberry like Bombix mori, Eri silk (northeastern India) is obtained using the same procedure that safeguards the insect. This type of silk is also produced by the large “Ailanthus silk moth” (Samia Cynthia), whose wingspan can reach 16.5 centimeters. This butterfly is widespread in Italy because it was imported in the 19th century to Piedmont for local silk factories.

We at Kurinji care about quality and style, but we also want to preserve for future generations the environment and the living things that inhabit it.