SUSTAINABILITY AND INNOVATION
Erik Frenken – FRENKEN
Erik Frenken is a fashion designer from the Netherlands. He worked as a designer at Viktor & Rolf for five years. For seven years he ran the fashion brand Avalon. Now he has his own namesake brand FRENKEN.
Justin Pariag – Sustainability manager de Bijenkorf
Justin Pariag is trained as an environmental scientist and ventured into fashion as sustainability manager at de Bijenkorf. The department store just launched its sustainability strategy online.
Sjaak Hullekes – Hul le Kes
Sjaak Hullekes is a household name in the Netherlands and just launched his new brand Hul le Kes, focusing on the story behind the garment.
Borre Akkersdijk – BYBORRE
Borre Akkersdijk is a Dutch designer specialised in textile development. His innovative techniques are used by brands like Adidas and The North Face.
Small company vs. big company
Sjaak Hullekes: “Fashion needs more personality. For me as a designer, the story behind the brand has to feel right. I use myself as an inspiration. I set up my own design atelier as well. With the old brand we were also selling abroad, and therefore I lost the connection with myself and the brand. Now with Hul le Kes we’re taking a small, tight-knitted approach.”
Erik Frenken: “If a product is sustainable, it’s honest. In terms of sustainability we produce in the best factories in Europe. Not all our cottons are organic, but we do not have any stock. Because we’re a small company, we are able to produce only what we sell. In that sense we don’t have any waste, and that’s the choice we made. Our clothes are not outragedly priced. It’s a matter of excellent sourcing. The more energy you put in the sourcing, the better you can keep the price reasonable and produce sustainably. “
The definition of sustainability in fashion
Justin Pariag: “For me it’s more so looking at the perspective of the consumer. When we talk about sustainability it’s about thinking of what you’re doing and how you can consume sustainable. There’s a lot of things we buy but we don’t feel connected to it. We do it for a quick fix. It’s really easy to feel like you’re not doing enough. It’s not about being a 100 % good, it’s about small changes.”
Changing the mindset of the consumer
Sjaak Hullekes: “My clients really like the fact that our clothes change the mindset around aging of the product. We live in a time where fresh and clean is the standard. I want to ask the people like please embrace stains, embrace the aging of clothing. It’s a part of the story of the garment and intertwines with your personal story.”
Justin Pariag: “Our customers are much more engaged with the subject. The impact of our industry is enormous. Second most polluting in the world. For me this is a great industry to work in because I’m able to change this; to make an impact. I think the reason why de Bijenkorf actually has a Sustainability Manager is because of the demand of the client.”
Justin Pariag: “‘Fashion for Good’ is a perfect example of an initiative that uses collaboration to get the message out. This is a way to share tools, which leads to a huge product impact.”
Borre Akkersdijk: “I truly believe that in a decade we will look back and think of our mindset back then as crazy. The problem now is that our industry is not transparent at all. If every customer could have a choice in the production process and were aware of all the processes that a garment goes through, there would be more people choosing for a more sustainable garment.”
Connotation with sustainability
Justin Pariag: “Green hushing is a real phenomenon right now. So many brands are doing many great things, but they’re afraid of communicating this because they’re not at the 100 % perfect point yet.”
Justin Pariag: “As a department store we’re at the very last of the supply chain. We can’t make decisions for the brand we sell, that is very true. However, we try to offer a space to share their message in exchange for a more sustainable approach within their brand.”