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Martijn van Strien, founder of The Post-Couture Collective
Martijn van Strien, founder of The Post-Couture Collective
MARTIJN, WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ON THE FASHION INDUSTRY OF TODAY?
I believe the fashion industry is an industry of excess, of overconsumption and of selling massive amounts of generic products through (often) wholly unrelated marketing stories. The term ‘Fashion’ for me stands for most of the irrational and a-moral aspects of the garment industry, the excessive runway shows, the bloggers, the perfumes, the need to bring in all this marketing just to sell more of a product nobody really needs.
Now don’t misunderstand me, I have nothing against beautiful clothes or looking good, as long as we enjoy it consciously and without the damaging effects on people and the environment.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW YOU THINK YOUR VISION COULD INFLUENCE THE FUTURE OF FASHION?
I think as soon as I started to see and understand the way the fashion industry has been changing over the past 10-20 years I knew that I’d want to do something about that. I learnt that it’s very hard to make people change their behaviour just by telling them they’re doing something wrong, and that’s why I believe that in order to have a positive influence on the choices they make you simply have to offer them an alternative that is both more attractive and ‘better’.
For consumers to understand that one product might be more sustainable than another is one thing, but if the ‘bad’ product is more attractive it’s highly unlikely they’ll pick the sustainable option over it. So we have to be smart and find ways to make sustainable products better, and to use benefits that mass-production doesn’t have. Only then can we have the positive impact we want.
WHAT SORT OF IMPACT DO YOU THINK THE POST-COUTURE COLLECTIVE COULD HAVE ON THIS INDUSTRY?
I hope, and think, that by offering people a chance to influence and be part of the design and production process of their garments will create much more attractive products then the current mass-manufacturing industry does. Who wouldn’t choose a garment that is designed and made especially for them and their body shape over something standard that everybody else has as well? I think by making this affordable and by bringing the production of clothing really close to the end user The Post-Couture Collective can make a difference.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN IN ONE SENTENCE WHAT A POST-COUTURE GARMENT IS?
A Post-Couture garment can be any garment that is both designed and produced, with and for the end user, using the latest technologies.
WHAT MAKES THE POST-COUTURE COLLECTIONS SUSTAINABLE?
The positive impact we aim to have on producing more sustainable clothing comes from a few things:
First of all the production process works in such a way that there is no benefit in producing large amounts of garments and hoping to sell them a few months later. Post-couture garments are designed on the spot by our software whenever someone wants to buy one, and thus also produced only when they’re sold. This means that the 30-40% of all the garments that arrive at a shop and that currently get thrown away at the end of each season will be a thing of the past.
Another thing we do is using only materials that are either already recycled or that can be really easily recycled after a garment is worn. We believe that recycling synthetic materials will in the long run be more sustainable than growing new ‘sustainable’ materials like (organic) cotton all the time.
Lastly we hope that by producing locally, from local materials, and using designs that are shared digitally we can eliminate a lot of the transport involved in the garment industry. Currently materials are grown in very specific parts of the planet, they get transported to the few countries that produce most of our clothing, and then the garments are spread around the world again. By trying to have all those aspects; material, production and consumption in the same location this could have a huge impact on the carbon footprint of this industry.
WHAT’S YOUR ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW COLLECTIONS?
My initial role is that of the curator. Finding the fashion designers, technical designers and institutes that do research into different materials or production methods, and bringing them together to develop new collections. To find the right designers, and make a good mix of styles will be very important. The collections that are developed for The Post-Couture Collective shouldn’t all be in one style, or one technique, my aim is to be as versatile as possible, to speak to as big an audience as possible, yet keeping to the same vision underneath it all.
DO YOU ALREADY KNOW WHO THE UPCOMING DESIGNERS FOR THE POST-COUTURE COLLECTIVE WILL BE?
We’re already working on a few new collections yes, but I won’t tell you about the designers just yet. I can tell you that they won’t be from the Netherlands, which fits with the goal to become an international platform in both design and production.
THE ‘COLLECTIVE’ PART OF THE NAME SUGGESTS OTHER PEOPLE CAN JOIN TOO, IS THAT TRUE?
Yes! Anyone with interesting ideas about innovations in clothing is very welcome to join. We’re looking for all kinds of people that can bring in ideas for new collections, production locations or ways to innovate our online and offline ‘shopping’ experiences.
WILL YOU ONLY BE SELLING THESE COLLECTIONS ONLINE OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO SELL IN SHOPS AS WELL?
I’d love to bring our new vision to shops as well, in fact we’ll be presenting our vision of ‘the clothing store of the future’ in a physical shop during this year’s Dutch Design Week. From the 17th until the 25th of October you can find the new collection and a future shop setting at the YOU ARE HERE store in Eindhoven. Expect a futuristic store with virtual fitting opportunities, intelligent systems to automatically change designs to your body measurements and a lasercutter to produce garments while you wait! After the DDW we’d love to test this concept in shops or show it in other locations / exhibitions, but we’ll see where this first one takes us and what we can learn from seeing how visitors interact with our systems.
NEXT TO THE ONLINE SHOP THERE’S A WHOLE SECTION OF THE WEBSITE DEDICATED TO DIY, WHAT’S THAT ALL ABOUT?
Instead of just selling clothes, and taking care of production ourselves, one of the more ambitious things we want to accomplish is to involve our ‘customers’ more in the process of designing and producing their own clothing. We truly believe in the Third Industrial Revolution that is currently happening in the Maker Community, and we want to be the first fashion label that joins this movement. We hope this will bring a back value to their garments that in recent years has been lost due to the low prices. By giving consumers the option to not only have the garment designs being made-to-measure, but also giving them the options to customise the designs and produce them locally from materials that they pick, we hope that gives the garments a lot of added ‘emotional value’. The DIY section on our website explains exactly how and where you can take these digital design files to have them produced, check it out!
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP IN DEVELOPING THE POST-COUTURE COLLECTIVE?
I’m really excited about the new collections we’re designing, and I think the first one will be released around the end of the year. Furthermore I’d like find partners to develop our online shopping experience with, and integrate customisation software in our website. But most of all I’m curious to see how people will respond to this first collection, and see if we can learn from it to keep improving our concept over time.
Behind the scenes of the mphvs ‘ONE | OFF’ shoot.
Discover the ‘ONE | OFF’ campaign shot by Olya Oleinic.
RETHINKING GARMENTS AND FASHION. THE WORLD’S FIRST MAKER COMMUNITY FOR CLOTHING.