We’re learning a lot as we go. As we more largely acknowledge our environmental responsibility, it’s been inspiring to learn from likeminded people and, even better, work with them to further each other’s sustainable missions. So we were excited to connect with Umberto De Marco, the president of Coronet and founder of Yatay, whose cutting-edge material we’ve incorporated into our everyday designs.
Umberto is trailblazing the way forward in the materials industry. Not only is he innovating premium plant-based materials, but with an exciting collaboration with Golden Goose he’s also leading by example to show that bio-based alternatives can and should be used in luxury goods.
Here, he shares his beginnings in materials, how Yatay was born, and where he wants to take his sustainable ambitions.
Tell us a bit about yourself & what you do
I started working at Coronet, my family company, 10 years ago. When I joined the company, we were a traditional Italian producer of synthetic leather. My mission was to change the technology underneath our material in order to change the perception of the market that alternative materials were not suitable for luxury application. I hope people can see sustainable alternatives with the same premium perception as they see more traditional materials.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I love to balance work and sport! I’m an early bird: I wake up at 6:15, go to the gym or play tennis for one hour, then head to the office until late afternoon. At the end of the day, I love to stay home and test out my cooking skills with my girlfriend.
We don’t need a few people doing extraordinary sustainable things, but all of us doing our small part.
How did you get into sustainability?
When I was younger, my parents always taught me the importance of saving resources like electricity and water. As I grew up, I extended this philosophy to everything I do, in both life and work. Little changes matter: we don’t need a few people doing extraordinary sustainable things, but all of us doing our small part. For me, that small part is my work at Coronet and Yatay.
What motivated this Yatay project & the collaboration with Golden Goose?
Yatay was born to change the game in the materials industry, to be the first option for luxury brands who want an animal-free alternative with the same aesthetic and technical features as the most noble options on the market. As soon as I had this material in my hand, I conducted market research and realized that no one has tried to make a luxury sustainable sneaker. This is when the Yatay B Sneakers took shape.
What is Yatay made of?
Instead of using petroleum-based alternatives, we developed a material that takes origin from bio-polyols, a plant-based material made from corn and cereals not in competition with the food chain. This was the most sustainable option we found on the market since it’s harvested on land not suitable for the food industry.
When you work in sustainability, every goal is a new starting point.
What’s the process for making Yatay?
It’s 100% made in Italy. In our industrial process, we use GRS certified polyester and FSC certified viscose. 98% of water is recovered along the production phase, minimizing the impact on the environment.
Through the new Yatay lab, ready in April 2023, we’ll keep on evolving. When you work in sustainability, every goal is a new starting point!
What are your ambitions for Yatay?
We hope to keep on raising the bar, never accepting what we achieve as the end goal. Sustainability is something that’s in continuous development, so we at Yatay want to keep on leading this movement.
We see the future coming in our direction – we started with sneakers, but our material is also starting to be used in the furniture and automotive markets. Our recent partnership with Native Union proves the fact that our materials are not only sustainable but durable and perfectly suitable for tech applications, too.
We hope to keep on raising the bar, never accepting what we achieve as the end goal.
How do you stay inspired?
I enjoy talking to people who share the same vision and values. Also, reading articles related to my business is another source of inspiration.
What's an important life lesson you learned that stuck with you?
Perseverance is key. We recently launched a pop-up in Rinascente in the heart of Milan, but before that we took five years to develop our sustainable material and three more years to convince the market that it could be a concrete option, so Yatay is almost a decade in the making.
What are some of your everyday essentials?
….Sport, work, love.