Designing The Future: A Conversation About Sustainable Manufacturing

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Sustainability is a massive topic, and its meaning isn’t always perfectly clear.

Which is why we wanted to give you a feel for how Quiksilver talks about sustainability at the ground level. So we spoke with one of our product designers, Paolo Maggiorelli, to pick his brain.

Born and raised in Italy, Paolo now lives in Biarritz, France and works out of our global headquarters in the nearby town of Saint Jean de Luz. He’s a passionate surfer and snowboarder, the proud owner of a Beagle named Bruno, and no stranger to a good time.

He has a degree in engineering and worked in that field for a handful of years before deciding to pursue design and get a job that allowed him to live at the beach. Not a bad call.

This is how Paolo thinks about sustainability as a designer.

Can you give us your background at Quiksilver?
I started in 2017 and my initial focus was on sun protection garments. That soon expanded to things like boardshorts and other technical products. Working on a range of products helped me become more of a fabric geek and learn about all the options out there.

How important is sustainability in your day to day life?
It’s not just important — it’s absolutely necessary. We can’t afford to not care about it. I’ve felt that way about it for a while. I was lucky enough to have a deep connection with nature since I was a kid growing up on the beach. Sustainability should be the standard of thinking and acting as individuals and as a company. At Quiksilver, I feel like we’re moving in a really good direction.

What does a sustainable product mean to you?
Sustainable is a broad word. I think it requires a holistic approach. For example, you can’t invest in a super sustainable material if the factory producing it doesn’t treat its employees fairly. So you have to look at every aspect of it.

How do you learn about new materials?
Well, like I said, I’m a bit of a fabric geek. I read a lot. And I really like to look at what other markets are doing. I’m also taking an in-depth sustainability course through Quiksilver. It all comes down to doing research and keeping an open mind. For example, this technology called Solution Dye has been used to make carpets since the 1950s — but we were recently able to incorporate it into what we do. I think we’re one of the first companies to use it for Sun Protection garments.

Do you think the standard for what could be considered sustainable is constantly evolving?
It’s evolving for sure, thanks to new technology and thanks to sustainable expectations in our culture. It’s a positive feedback loop and I definitely think things will keep progressing as a result.

Any projects that really excite you?
Our Ocean Made fabric is really cool to me. I like how direct it is — it’s literally taking plastic pollution out of the ocean and turning it into useful products.

Future of sustainability at Quiksilver?
I think a lot about our ability to inspire people. Quiksilver has always had a major influence on the culture of surfing and snowboarding, as well as the surf and snow industries. That’s a big responsibility, and I’m happy we get to take it on.