New adventures in fashion education

What happens when creativity, education, and social responsibility come together? TOOLS, the training project created by CLU++ER studio in Milan for young creatives, might just have the answer.

Andrea Cammarosano (artist and designer) and Leonardo Persico (stylist and art director) were driven to create TOOLS to help teenagers overcome  the difficult situation of the post-pandemic period by giving them the opportunity to learn, express themselves, and create beautiful fashion:

Creating something beautiful, whether it is a fabric, a dress, or a photo is not just an aesthetic experience, but an activity that has real, tangible effects on the lives of people. It teaches us to relate to the world around us and that, despite things being messy, scattered, fragmented, it is possible to slowly reassemble the pieces and, from chaos, give shape to beauty.

Photo by Gloria Torquati

In their  large studio space at the crossroads of public housing and professional institutes, Andrea and Leonardo welcome once a month a group of teenagers, recruited through the local schools and the city’s social services. During the full-day workshops, these young people learn about textiles, clothing, and visual communication under the direction of the two founders and other professionals from the creative industries, including textile designers, tailors, a fashion editor, makeup artists, and photographers.

The project cycle lasts 6 months, at the end of which the creations are presented to the public, then made available for sale in a pop-up store thanks to the sponsor DADS.IT (Designer Archive Digital Store), a Florence-based collective that deals with guiding young designers in their first steps toward producing and distributing their own garments.

Photo by Emilio Tini

The pieces of Grafikissima – the collection designed together with Alesinja, Sefora, Camilla, Angel, Giulia, and Kohl from the first cycle of workshops – are all characterized by colorful motifs, printed on ecotwill and cotton poplin fabrics. These fabrics were realized  by TheColorSoup, one of the sponsors of the project, through a technique called “pigment printing”:  a sustainable process requiring low water consumption. A selection of the pieces can be bought on  the CLU++ER website ( Proceeds from the sale of the garments are reinvested to fund future participants in the project, now in its second iteration. In addition to technical training, this new crop of industry hopefuls will learn in an environment that bears little resemblance to a school:

You have to have faith in small steps: from a few fragments of fabric a world can be invented, the knowledge of small techniques can create a job, and in this path you are not necessarily alone, but you act with the support of many hands and many heads together. The combination of creativity, technique, and sociability is the formula behind this project.

Photo by Emilio Tini

TOOLS is a safe space, far away from grades and assessments, a social space in which the business aspect emerges to give these young people a taste of the world of work that awaits them, where those who have struggled can overcome their difficulties and learn to express themselves through art, colors, fabrics. Creativity gives them a way to cope with, through beauty and inventiveness, the vicissitudes of life.

Images provided by Andrea Cammarosano