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EYE OF RAY: REDUCE, REUSE, REDYE

Dive into the colorful world of Eye of Ray and get inspired by Martina Fendi’s unique vision of art, fashion and sustainability.

Words By Sophie Badaoui

28/06/2021

Unlike most fashion brand founders, the creator of Eye of Ray is not a designer. Embrace her entrepreneurship and talent dear readers, because she is a freshly graduate in graphic design at Ravensbourne University in London. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the insane work and expertise behind a properly established yet growing brand was done by one single person, a young Italian artist named Martina Formilli Fendi. Despite her young age, she has gained experience in her summer internships such as for Toiletpaper magazine in Milan, as well as her job as a creative consultant in Milan, and later, in an art studio in Rome.

Now this might be one of the few stories where one could say “Thank god I got covid!”. Indeed, Eye of Ray was born when Martina was in quarantine in her room, as she was fighting the virus we all so hysterically feared not so long ago. In such a self-reflecting context, when one is confined in her house and in her thoughts and disconnected from all human distractions and social interactions, one particularly good thing comes out of it: creativity. As she was going through her old sketchbooks, Martina found her late grandfather’s precious artwork: the archives of his traditional Christmas cards that he would draw and paint to send out to family and friends. Inspired by his patience, hard work and passion for art that he carried through 70 years, his proud granddaughter decided to start her own creative process. All she had at the time was her clothes and her sewing machine. Then happened the ecstatic beginning of everything: she ripped out all her clothing, ordered some paint on the internet and dyed her whole wardrobe. “I was like, let’s dye everything, let’s change it”, she firmly recalls. Her love for the environment pushed her to create a green capsule as a statement. Soon after that, she launched a private art page on Instagram. The artwork she shared on this page started to resonate with people, which encouraged her to go public and eventually turn what was known as her lockdown diary, to an actual sustainable business. Moreover, her travels have consequently forged her vision of sustainability, as they permitted her to step back from consumerism and fast fashion and adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Dissecting the name of Eye of Ray, Martina explains that the eye is “an organ which you use to see forms, shapes, colors” and ray refers to sunrays, which can symbolize positivity, especially in the covid context.

Martina found her dye aesthetics as she was practicing upcycling, using old clothes and exploring a range of raw colors, natural pigments such as curry extracts from vegetables that she would find at the supermarket. Then she focused on “sustainable ways to dye”, paying attention to purchasing only natural pigments extracted from plants that she 

would sometimes make grow herself. Eye of ray’s dyeing patterns were made from the founder’s fascination of “how incredibly pigments react with clothes with fabrics, and the way they do it in, in a totally free way.” Although she has control over the desired outcome, she admits that dyeing clothes is always unpredictable as how it turns out can be surprising; but isn’t that the whole excitement of doing it in the first place? Also, as the result of dyeing can be aleatory, it is also unique, giving each piece its personal and original value. Eye of Ray pieces are also a symbol of the brave work of local tailors Martina collaborates with in Rome. They are amazing elderly women who have fairy hands and cooperate synergistically with her. Talking about interesting collaborations, the young artist shares two future projects with us. Firstly, an event in partnership with an authentically beautiful and extremely sustainable farmhouse hotel in Tuscany, in which Martina will launch her pop up store and sell her pieces. Secondly, a catwalk organized by the sustainable fashion innovation society in Rome, which is a great opportunity for our young artist who will proudly show three looks that she put together with a powerful meaning for a large and interested audience. 

Diving more into her production process, Martina works in two ways. The first one is traditional upcycling, transforming old clothes customers give her to new, one of a kind pieces. The second one is purchasing deadstock fabric samples to fight against fashion waste as well as high quality, natural fibers such as hemp and nettle. She also uses her brand to spread awareness about the multiple benefits of these mind blowing fabrics. 

 

Acknowledging that going fully sustainable is extremely hard and almost unreachable, Martina still highlights the urge to consider small actions towards a greener and fairer future, such as recycling or planting trees. In fact, she already has a forest on Treedom, and tries to dedicate a tree to someone every two or three months. This initiative allows her to contribute to better the planet as well as inspire her audience and community via Eye of Ray. Funny story, during the interview, she told me about the time she was driving her car and picked up 20 wooden frames, in perfect condition, that she had found – here comes the twist – in a garbage spot. As you can see, her actions reflect her words as she gives her opinion on fast fashion’s waste: “if everything would follow a more circular economy, everyone would benefit from it”. She strongly believes that the first step towards change should come from the big household names, the ones exerting the biggest influence on the industry. Also, she denounces superficial trends and crazy ads we daily see on our Instagram page that prevents society from consuming more mindfully and responsibly. It is therefore no surprise that she defines modern luxury as “high quality, sustainable materials and an ethical way of production”.

A young artist herself, the advice she would give to other fellow young artists and designers is to simply go with the flow and stay authentic. “Don’t think that you have to fit in somewhere. Get inspired and throw yourself in if you have an urge to communicate something, just go with it”, she wisely answers.

Finally, when asked about the long term goals of her brand, Martina aims to expand Eye of Ray beyond fashion, as her initial page was surely about art but also about promoting sustainability in general. So don’t get too surprised if you see Eye of Ray in the agriculture sector in the future! Our artist and entrepreneur hopes her brand serves as a platform to bring people together and spread a sense of community, also as a safe space for young, emerging artists that exchange ideas and inspire each other. “My hope is to form collaborations with artists, merging our creative minds and fusing our imaginations to create a consciousness through fashion”, she adds. She would also like to invest in what she refers to as “sustainable art”, guiding young artists through more sustainable practices when it comes to drawing, painting or sculpting for example. Her previous experience at an art studio in Rome has made her aware of the disastrous amount of plastic used that could easily be recycled instead. As she so gracefully projects, “there’s definitely a lot more to come for Eye of Ray than just fashion”.

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