Consequently, there is an increasing need for quality and durability in fashion. As a contemporary fashion designer you have the responsibility to create fashion that exceeds mere aesthetic value.
For fashion to be relevant today and tomorrow it needs to fulfil deeper needs of the consumer. So it needs to resonate a relevant and original vision on fashion. And when it wil be made with passion and dedication the outcome will be more meaningful and durable. In other words fashion needs to have a soul again.
Atelier confronts you with the responsibility that all contemporary fashion designers face. Atelier challenges you to create high quality fashion that ticks all these boxes. Atelier offers you a platform to start the development of your authentic design identity, vision and signature style. Atelier is about the dream, the passion, and the innate necessity that you have to feel to design fashion.
In Atelier the focus is on the design process, which is directed by your unique ideas, personality, visionary talent, and making skills, on the one hand, and a general need for innovation and durability on the other. In other words, you are in charge of your own "Atelier" where you can create without the limitations of a brand or the market.
The objective is to design a collection of high quality, durable unique pieces based on various technical design principles, such as draping and pattern manipulation, a combination of crafts and innovative techniques, craftmanship, experimentation with form, (de)construction, and a specialization in knit, print or digital design. This collection of outfits will evidence the start of a personal handwriting and a clear and relevant vision on fashion.
'Waste is only waste if you waste it' - Will.I.Am.
This Atelier-collection takes this quote as a statement and wants to give another insight on our consumer driven society. Taking apart the Levi’s 501 as a metaphor of the current American legacy we live in. With the richness found inside the jeans a new base of a collection was found. A collection based on what the value of our European Fashion should be based on in nowadays zeitgeist.
Because reinventing ourselves can only makes stronger so lets be aware of ourselves and our world and live life more sustainable…
The continent of where most of our waste considered garments go to gave insight on the rich fashion legacy our society has. Several ethnic groups took the by patterns made tailored clothing as protest against their dictating governments. A deeper look into the Neo-Sapeurs of Kinshasa and Brazzaville,
Republic of Congo made visible they really identify themselves with the European clothes they wear and appreciate the value of tailoring.
The new generation is taking the inspiration of the Great Britains Royalty in time of their ancestors to a new level. By collecting different materials and garments over time new Silhouettes are created without losing the tailoring elements.
The men of Mr.Erbil protested to the dominant thought of the Islam and the restriction of clothing that conforms to the religion. Now the country is ruined they see it as the possibility to start over and building up a new identity...
To regain their value and identity they decide themselves what to wear and wear more clothing based on european pattern cutting. It reminded me of the Sapeurs who also protested silently to the regime in the same way.
A regime which wanted the people to wear traditional clothes of their culture. From the Sapeurs it lead to the Neo-Sapeurs which is a younger less rich generation. The shortage on money makes them more creative and they develop/collect their own clothing/outfit of all kinds of materials. It lead me to the inspiration and question if I would rebuild our society, would I do it on the same values? And how could I capture it into a clothing outfit...
Indigo blue with Hamilton’s. The work is comprised of approximately 18,000 pieces of used, blue, cotton work clothes. The uniforms of anonymous blue-collar workers, whose names for the most part are lost from written histories but written in the marking of the clothes. So the installations represents the big group of workers but look closer into it and you'll find the individual in there.
Shai Kremer recorded The Concrete Abstraction Series in which he shows the destruction and rebuild a paragon of Western Society. Kremer combined combined copious images to illustrate the years of of reconstruction. A process that links “accumulation, destruction and reconstruction” and must representing progress of our new society.
Sensuality, materiality and process are the driving forces in Hanne Friis’ art. The main part of her production consists of sculptures and installations in textile materials, processed with repetitive handicraft techniques through which the movements of the body produce natural variations in surface and form. A recurring theme in the works is the vulnerability of the body and mortality of man, but at the same time, the force and intensity of all life.
As a metaphor for the western society we live in I took the Levi's 501, probably the most produced and consumed garment of the western world. And when it ones really gets the Identity of the wearer it mostly is thrown away.
Searching for starting points for a garment begins with taking the existing patterns on a doll and finding new relations to the body. Draped it inside out, so I could immediately gather stitch it and turn it to see the result.
The backpanel of the jeans could function as sleeve...
To renew a try-out with a asymmetric garment was requested by the tutor...
Has interesting pieces but not worked out as hoped, the patterns don't let themselves really use in that kind of way.
Every small part can come in handy to cover the whole body.
Making a asymmetric garment, to see if it gives new insights on the jeans eventually did not really work out.
Presenting and fitting every week takes al lot of time and can make me very insecure. But is needed to tackle major problems in a early stage.
Sometimes you'll need to kill your darling because the idea doesn't work as hoped. Like this shoulder pad which contains sixteen layer and the same amount of hours stitching.
While focussing on the bigger picture, the approved parts are becoming more detailed like the traditional tailored peaking of this lapel collar.
Fittings starting to become more final and slowly parts and details are getting finished.
Lovely to see the covered parts were protected and contrasting highly with the washed parts of the jeans. It is wat makes the value of time and use visible.
A detailed shot of a waistband attaiched to the pattern at the inside of a leg.Which is dark blue because of the folded seam. By working with it, all the jeans are starting to tell their story. Which really shows the richness of this indigo dyed fabric.
Let's be aware
In the designproces the Japanese Boro and WabiSabi thoughts inspired me to just let the design evolve from the patterns of the fabric on. Only in this way the richness of time can fully become to what it deserves.
Because by working like this there will absolutely evolve imperfections. These are the imperfections of the designer and maker, and so they are the fingerprints of me that is in the work.
The WabiSabi thought learns us to embrace imperfection and gives the insight on what it makes stand out in the crowd of nowadays aim for perfection. A thought that also helps me to accept myself and be aware of my existence.
Atelier starts off with doing research to a handcraft, I chose to do research on the Japanese craft of 'Boro'. It attracts me because it developed out of a necessity and is really representing a zeitgeist.
Mastering a craft really takes time. Which is always short of in fashion, so I immediately started to do some tryouts with various patterns stitch lengths and developed it in a japanese sun.
Only a stitching doesn't give the depth a original 'Boro' fabric has. For this a layering of blue shades is needed. So putted some used and new fabric together to see what it does.
Adding various shades of blue and stitch patterns over it. The boro was especially used to repair so also a reparation in this sample.
I liked the previous outcome and then had to add other fabrics as well. Has some interesting parts like the blending in of the lace at the left bottom, but doesn't get enough to proceed on.
Saw a Scandinavian pattern on a pull-over and started to copy it with the sashiko stitching. The nordic pattern didn't really blend in with the japanese craft...
Boro is normally about geometrical patterns, so developed the scandinavian star/flower is a kind of organic one. Isn't very masculine so would rather use it on women garments then on mens.
The twill fabric of jeans gave me the inspiration of this pattern of small stitches. It didn't eventually made the cut. But is used to make a print for the lining with.
Inspired by the twill binding, more binding were looked in to, so the pied-de-poule/houndstooth couldn't be not be in it. It developed into this stitching pattern, which trick the eye a little bit and shows the houndstooth.
Another English classic weft is the herringbone, so this couldn't be missing. Together with the houndstooth it eventually made the collection.
Blue is the New Gold
The value of the garment can’t be expressed in price. Because after all it is just stitched together fabrics that were considered waste in our mowadays society. This collection is made to challenge the people to think differently about ‘value’.
So it may not be valuable in terms of money, but what if we start to look how valuable it is in the notion of ‘time’? The time it took to form and color the patterns of the jeans. The dark marks of parts that were covered makes time visible in it’s surrounding. And when you start seeing it it suddenly becomes one of the most valuable fabric we could imagine.
Line-Up and catwalk
Front view on the first outfit.
First outfit seen from the side.
...and the back of the first outfit.
Second outfit frontview
Look at the second outfit from the side.
Diagonal look on the back.
Model Toman Woerdman wears the first outfit with pride.
Detail shot of the first outfit. The sashiko-stitching pattern refers to a herringbone.
On the kilt (2nd outfit) we find the houndstooth/pied-de-poule pattern in sashiko stitch.
Backshot on the shoulder of the first outfit.
This project is about creating the awareness on our consumption society...
so be aware when you buy new clothes or throw your old away. Because with that you throw your personal wearmarks away, the most valuable good in such a society.
Special word of thanks to...
Lots of people supported in this project so on this they are thanked for all what they have done. Because the importance of a supporting role never has to be forgotten.
The company BRASCO for showing me the small amount of garments that been thrown away monthly and sponsoring me the nicely aged Levi’s jeans.
To a special team that made a photoshoot possible, from which the result was better I could ever hoped for. So Lorenzo Gentile Polese, Els Veerman, Toman Woerdman & Romilda van Raamsdonk thanks for the nice production.
Wout Runhaar & Ton Stevens for doing fittings and for walking the catwalk-show with my garments. And also being nice company during the project and show.
Design Teachers Oscar Raaijmakers and Saskia Stockler for helping me taking the garments to a higher level.
My dad, although he didn’t had anything with fashion, his sustainable fashion behaviour and always wearing the Levi's jeans became the personal starting point for this collection.