Eco-conscious designer, Letizia Cruciani, designs sophisticated clothes exclusively made in Italy. Created with minimalism and sustainability in mind, CRU LE provides a classic yet contemporary capsule wardrobe for the sophisticated woman. Cruciani tells The Clothing Lounge how she employs a circular business model to build a modular and timelessly versatile fashion brand.
When and where did your brand CRU LE begin?
The idea and the mission of the brand was born in 2019 in Tuscany, Italy, from a personal need to be part of the change in the world.
CRU LE arose from a simple question of ‘how can fashion be sustainable?’. I was able to summarise my answer into a single word, ‘respect’. Respect for the environment, and also for the people who work on the project and the clothing. The brand’s aim is to instil this feeling of respect for the items, in the consumer.
What inspires you and your designs?
My approach is definitely conceptual. I have a background in Fine Arts, so I am used to communicating messages through my creations. I consider fashion a form of art, it’s just another medium to express myself and I find it interesting that through fashion, my creations can help others express themselves too.
My inspiration comes from the things I am surrounded by, books I read, photography, a piece of contemporary art, or from old things I find at vintage markets. Then I combine everything into a single concept that I use to create my mood boards and colour and textile palettes.
How long does it take to finish a product, from the initial design to the finished creation?
Well, generally two months on average.
How would you describe yourself and your brand?
In three words I would describe myself as stubborn, passionate and creative. I am an artist and living as an artist is not that easy, it can feel as if I am living inside a roller coaster. As for CRU LE as a brand, high quality and being made in Italy are the core values by which it thrives.
My designs are based on minimalism, achieving simplicity while guaranteeing quality with the least environmental impact. The collections are structured as a capsule, in order to maximize the wardrobe and reduce production rate. So, less clothes, but more valuable, versatile and durable. I combine a strong and distinctive aesthetic with a modular and versatile design.
How do you overcome creative blocks?
Creative blocks are totally normal, and in my case happens when I need to recharge. So, when they come I relax for a few days and do everything I love, except working. Exercising, hiking and sailing helps me a lot.
Which part of the creative process do you enjoy the most, and the least?
I enjoy every aspect of the creative process. My favourite part is drawing and playing with shapes.
My least favourite part is looking for fabrics. I love playing around with them but the search for suppliers and negotiating with them for the minimum order can be difficult.
As an independent designer, what is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?
Running your own label is not easy, but it is stimulating. Unfortunately, your creative space is usually reduced to a restricted amount of time and you have to manage every situation, and the rest of the team, to keep your business running.
Sustainability appears to be a very important cause to you. Why is that, and how do you implement it into your brand?
Sustainability is a very important cause to me and so CRU LE has to mirror my values, making it a prerogative for myself and my brand. I decided to create my own path to change the environmental situation, to read about diseases and climate change, and be sure that I am doing everything in my power to play my part towards building a better future. Although CRU LE is a small brand, I believe every little helps towards making a positive change.
CRU LE has a circular and minimal approach. Starting from the design phase, each piece of clothing has multiple styling solutions, and their versatility and modularity helps to minimize the wardrobe, thus emphasizing the concept of a capsule wardrobe and helping people to declutter their lives.
The raw material are recycled or derived from high quality pre-consumer waste, which usually are destinate to incinerator and our product is entirely Made in Italy to enhance our great know- how and confer durability to our garments.
Our aim in the near future, is to implement our circular business model to confer a certain percentage of the profits in support of ethical and environmental causes and create specific customer services that will advise on how to extend the life of our products.
Which pieces in your collection do you consider to be must-haves for our readers?
Must-haves pieces are our modular coats, Santiago or Peggy, which are available as a set to allow you to create multiple variations of your coat. I would also recommend Madam, our silk shirt, and Ernst, the trousers with removable voulant.
How do you see CRU LE growing over the next five to ten years?
I am a dreamer so in five to ten years I see CRU LE becoming a big company with a completely circular economy.
I also hope to open concept stores worldwide that will also serve as educational spaces where people can learn new skills and help the environment through fashion.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone hoping to start their own fashion brand?
Find a mission connected with your personal values, and believe in your ideas, fight for them. We don’t need just another cool fashion brand, we need something more, fashion that connects with your specific point of view. Once you have this, it will give you the courage to keep going.
Check out CRU LE’s latest collection on their Instagram: @CRU LE