Maria Isabel Nogueras Vila, a Catalan designer who found a new home in Brussels, has been working wonders with fabric swatches since 2013. Fabric manufacturers present the most beautiful samples at textile trade shows … only to dump them in the trash afterwards. What a waste of all those pretty and high-quality fabrics, right? Nogueras Vila felt exactly the same way, deciding to upcycle them to women’s wear – or should we say: to works of art? In 2017 alone, the designer managed to recycle no less than 1,600 kilos of waste with her label Isatió. Even the buttons and zippers she uses are salvaged.

Fabric swatch books are small – some of them measuring only half a square meter – and Nogueras Vila depends entirely on what is sent to her. This means that every garment she makes is unique, its composition requiring a great deal of time and ingenuity. For bigger pieces, the designer has recourse to end-of-roll fabrics she buys from the textile industry.

The Isatió production process takes place in Brussels, and Nogueras Vila consciously works with social partners. For instance, she collaborates with L’Ouvroir (a sheltered workshop), FAE (a textile school) and De Welvaartkapoen (a social sewing shop). The garments are delivered by bike. The environmental benefits are obvious!

Lastly, the Isatió founder attaches a lot of importance to personal contacts with her customers, whom she explains how the item of their choice was made and whom she guarantees a perfect fit by offering last-minute touch-ups, if necessary.

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