More and more fashion designers are doing ‘upcycling’: a term in the fashion world that means that you make a new piece of clothing from an old piece of fabric. It is also an important theme during Amsterdam Fashion Week. Model and climate activist Kiki Boreel walked in the show, wearing a suit of hotel linen from the Amrâth Hotel.
The reason for clothes from table linen? “I can’t bring myself to contribute to the enormous mountain of waste that already exists,” says Diek Pothoven, one of the designers of the fashion brand Martan. You have to put down quite a bit for his suit of table linen. “200, 300, 400 euros.”
Kiki Boreel has been a model for eight years now. She previously worked for so-called Fast Fashion-chains, fashion giants that have a cheap and often changing collection. Not really sustainable, thought Boreel, who has been changing tack since this year: “I only focus on brands that are serious about sustainability. For example, I think about whether they use natural materials, how they deal with waste processing and whether the clothing is recyclable. I also speak out against overproduction and greenwash campaigns (where companies wrongly say they are sustainable, ed.). Then I grab my camera and put angry videos on Instagram.”
“I got 15 outfits on a day. Sometimes 20 of the same shirts in a day”
The reason for her switch? “I’ve done a lot of shoots for e-commerce. Then I got 15 outfits in a day. I sometimes put on 20 of the same shirts. Such a mass production. I started reading more and more about fast fashion. Then I decided to get away from that.”
Stijn de Vries, who writes for various fashion magazines, sees that attention to sustainability is growing in the fashion world. “There are many young designers who reuse old fabrics and think about making them more sustainable.” Fashion expert Arno Kantelberg also sees the development, but does make a comment. “That trend is certainly ongoing and is also quite large. Also because it is quite a smart message from a marketing point of view. That you are good for Mother Earth. It is largely intrinsic, but also largely opportunistic. But opportunism is not a bad fuel as long as it has a good effect.”
Kiki Boreel agrees. “I know that sustainability is a core value is for Martan, but of course it is also a good story.” Yet, according to Boreel, there are also plenty of fashion companies that abuse the trend. “Unfortunately, there are also chains that make an environmentally conscious collection, but also allow the current collection to continue to exist. In doing so, they promote extra consumption. Those companies use it as a marketing tool. That’s too bad.”
Sewing and knitting
But where should the ordinary Amsterdammer shop, because not everyone can afford a pack of table linen that costs hundreds of euros. For this, fashion journalist De Vries has some tips in store: “You can dive into your grandfather’s or grandmother’s closet and then put a pair of scissors in it. You can also borrow a lot from shops these days. Then you rent clothes per day and do you bring it back after a party. Or learn to sew and knit. That is also on my own to do list.”
“And look differently at products made of 100 percent cotton. Not made of oil and not made of plastic,” adds Boreel. The model also sees second-hand clothing as a good option. “I hope that people who can afford sustainable clothing do it, use it for a long time and then take it to a vintage store. So that people with a small wallet can also walk in good clothes and not have to wear a discarded Zara shirt walk.”
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