Last September, as part of the Lichting 2022 presentations, the talented Dutch designer Ruben Jurriën captured hearts and acclaim with his awe-inspiring demonstration of inclusivity and masterful craftsmanship. His remarkable collection, ‘Pak van mijn Hart!,’ earned him the prestigious first prize. A year later, he fills Felix Meritis with an eager audience anticipating the designer’s unique sartorial interpretation of the word “strong”.
“If a kiss can scare a bodybuilder, then love really is the strongest.” With ‘Super Femboyant’, Ruben Jurriën weaves a second chapter to his self-made comic featuring his childhood plushie “Toetie”, whom, after becoming the superhero everyone needs, comes to the rescue when unkindness reveals itself. Paralleled with a discriminative situation the designer encountered in real life, Ruben fuses reality and fiction to reveal a powerful story about the word “strong”. As the collection unfolds, Toetie’s superpower gradually becomes more apparent. Toetie possesses the extraordinary ability to hurl hearts at those devoid of compassion. These hearts, when they make contact, have a transformative effect, unlocking the inner strength and kindness within the target. This represents a softer, gentler form of “strong”, one that empowers the “Femboyant” individuals to emerge as the true superheroes they are destined to be.
In Ruben’s collection, strong takes on different qualities, breaking with preconceived notions and visually presenting the audience with a new definition of the word. A white shirt is adorned with a plush, cushion-like representation of a six-pack, suit jackets with an expansive ruffled silhouette, and T-shirts with broad football shoulders engraved with the words “Kindness will save the world” dismantle the barriers of masculine stereotypes. One six-pack sweater made entirely out of heart-shaped pillows and an oversized head-to-toe pink suit with heart print and ruffled edges stand as a literal testament of Ruben’s devotion to design for everyone and anyone with compassion and inclusivity as core values.
Speaking of inclusivity, as a true innovator in the field of one-fits-all garments, Ruben embarked on an exploration of denim, seeking to create jeans that transcend the constraints of standardised sizing. The customisation of jeans to accommodate every individual’s unique body shape became a pivotal facet of the designer’s design philosophy. This customisation element is not merely functional but is seamlessly integrated into the very fabric of the designs that graced the catwalk. The models existed of normal people; family and friends, aged older and younger, of the designer that vouches to make fashion a welcoming space that is accessible and most of all fun.
Photo by Isabelle Bucx