DebatLABB at Mode Biënnale, Arnhem: fashion from the heart?


June 30, 2013

Today I went to the Mode Biënnale (MoBA) at Arnhem. More precisely, I went to the debatLABB: a quarterly debate on sustainability issues hosted by Jan Douwe Kroeske and his production company Double 2. This time it was at the Mode Biënnale so, off course it was about fair and sustainable fashion. 

First a video of Awearness Fashion was shown with all kinds of aspects related to sustainable fashion like recycling, fair, love (for the clothes), cradle to cradle and so on. Thereafter, the debate was about whether regulation can stimulate better and sustainable clothing, or whether certification is key. The government needs to do the regulation, but there also needs to be implementation on the ground (certification). Some technical innovations were shown, which included an innovative zipper, biodegradable shoes, and bracelets made from recycled materials (bought one).

All very interesting, but what can the consumer do? And what about those big clothing suppliers like H&M? We watched an interview with Catherine Midby (trend coordinator at H&M), stating their goal of increasing their sustainable clothing through their program H&M conscious. However, she argued, it is hard for such a big clothing store to buy that much sustainable clothing since there may not be enough. My question arises whether this goal is coming from ethical standpoints and from the argument of doing good, or whether it comes from just a new business model. Are they really concerned about fair fashion and fair working conditions for the employers in developing countries? In other words, does it come from the heart or the ego? 

We closed with two nice ladies presenting the ins and outs of sustainable clothing, including Marieke Eyskoot with her book ‘Talking dress’. As always with debatLABB, the debate sessions were nicely divided through music from a great singer and after the debate, there was time to mingle and be inspired by all the sustainable clothing and accessories shown at the Meet the Maker mode saloon.

What was most inspiring to me were the biodegradable shoes: shoes you can put underground after use, and they grow out as nice flowers! They are called 'oat shoes' (from oat meal, as in cereals) Even though one of the speakers argued that recycling might be better, it is still a great idea! Imagine that! Your shoes become beautiful flowers, even after you have been wearing them with your sweaty feet!




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