Last week the 5th edition of Fashion Talks took place, an inspiring evening in the iconic Handelbeurs in Antwerp. Fashion Talks brings the (Belgian) fashion industry together to obtain new perspectives, make valuable connections and celebrate the talent from our sector. And we from Young Patterns were present of course!
Sustainability was a recurring theme through all the speeches and interviews.
Clare Press, creator of the ‘Wardrobe crisis’ book and the podcast of the same name, kicked off the event with a video message. She deliberately chose not to be physically present, as flying across the globe from Australia to Belgium to speak about sustainable fashion would have been rather contradictory. Press spoke about the fact that there is still no evolution to be seen in the fashion world in terms of overproduction, although this is much needed.
Founder and creative director of Arte Antwerp, Bertony Da Silva, takes his inspiration from second-hand stores. Consumers do not shop in these stores for brands, but for the look and feel of the garments themselves. This feel and experience alongside fashion is what he wants to create with Arte. Moreover, Da Silva himself wants to serve as an inspiration for young people with a similar background to him: young people who don’t have a degree or didn’t graduate.
The importance of an experience around the product was also emphasized by Doug Stephens, award-winning author and founder of the global consulting firm Retail Prophet. His speech focused mainly on retail: how brands or companies can make their product an experience. According to Stephens, the question they need to ask is: “If we as a brand are the question, what is the answer?”
Alumna of the Antwerp Fashion Academy Shayli Harrison takes on sustainability in a completely different way with her digital fashion. As a counter-reaction to a suppression of creativity, she founded MUTANI. This refers to the English word mutiny, or rebellion. MUTANI is a platform for radical designers to offer digital fashion that can be worn in cyberspace. Harrison wants to rebel against exploitation in the industry in this way. The advantage of working online is the inclusiveness and the possibility of unlimited self-expression. In the digital world, the old ways of producing and selling do not apply. In addition, an entirely new market is addressed, including, for example, gamers. When asked if NFTs (non-fungible token or unique digital item) are not harmful to the environment, Harrison answered the following: “Every new technology can be polluting at first, but then it’s up to you to do your research and choose to work only with sustainably focused blockchains.”
The main speaker of the evening was Pieter Mulier. Mulier has already covered quite a trail in the fashion world, from working at (and with) Raf Simons, to Dior and later Calvin Klein, to his current position as Creative Director at Alaïa. The topic of sustainability also came up in his interview. According to Mulier, it is a broader concept, not only revolving around recycling and reducing plastic. He thinks it is important in the fashion world to build on previous collections, to breathe new life into old pieces by continuing to improve them. He calls fashion an emotion, as opposed to the current landscape where new trends just keep popping up and a “vomit of product” is produced. Aesthetics remain the most important thing, which is why Mulier chooses to create garments that are made to be cherished.
Fashion Talks was thus an enlightening sevening full of new insights, and above all an evening with many hopeful expectations about the future of the fashion industry. We are already looking forward to what (and who) the next edition will bring!