Green is the new black: Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week

 Edition 28 September 2017, by Alice Burke

Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week will take place from the 6th to the 15th of October in various locations across the Netherlands. It aims to highlight the beauty and accessibility of sustainable fashion, and offer a feasible alternative to the fast-fashion and dubiously produced items from many high street outlets. Over 400 shops all over the Netherlands are taking part in the event, which is now in its 4th year. It was developed in 2014 to connect entrepreneurs, brands and designers, and to provide consumers with insight into new ways of buying and wearing sustainable fashion.

Sustainable fashion, also known as eco fashion, is part of a growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability globally, the goal of which is to create a system that can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. Slow fashion, the alternative to fast fashion and part of what has been called the “slow movement”, focuses on values such as clean production that does not harm the environment, and fairness, advocating accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers.

Celebrities and designers such as Lucy Tammam and Stella McCartney have made sustainable fashion a household concept in recent years by promoting the exclusive use of sustainable materials, with McCartney refusing to use any animal products in her collections. Manufacturers and consumers are both responsible for the environmental damage that comes from the impact of fashion. Fast fashion ensures that clothing is produced quickly, using often exploitative labour and low quality synthetic fabrics. The fashion industry has a huge impact on the environment; from the use of pesticides in the cultivation of cotton to the energy needed to produce each item. Traditional cotton needs a third of a pound of chemicals to make just one t-shirt. Choosing organic fibers or durable materials , such as bamboo or hemp – ensures a reduction in carbon and chemicals, and that’s not just good news for the environment, it’s good news for your body too. Human skin is sensitive and requires protection against harmful herbicides and artificial dyes. These harmful substances are usually present in the standard cotton clothing we all wear on a daily basis. The team at Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week recommend replacing them with clothing made of organic cotton, as it’s much kinder to your skin.

Events for Sustainable Fashion Week

Kids fashion day at the Westergasfabriek

Pebble TV are organizing a kids’ fashion show play day with Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week and Duurzaam 020 October 14 at 13:00. The sustainable event for kids between 4 and 12 years will take place at the Westergasfabriek. Bring along as many materials as possible to use when making your sustainable outfit. Things like newspapers, bottle caps, CDs, playing cards, packages, buttons, and other fun materials that you’d like to recycle. Also bring a top or a shirt that you can use as a base. Some materials will also be available at the venue. You’ll be assisted with your outfit by Pebble TV supervisors and you’ll get a catwalk lesson to show off your outfit.

Sustainable Fashion Week at the Tilburg Textile

Museum The Textile Museum in Tilburg will celebrate Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week in its own unique and wonderful way with a series of events between the 6th and 15th of October. During the week, various activities have been organized around the theme of sustainability.

Earth Matters – An exhibition

The theme of sustainability is at the heart of the exhibition Earth Matters, which will take place at the Tilburg Textile Museum. Based on four themes, the visitor will get a deeper understanding of the cycle of sustainability and a greater insight into the world of materials and eco-friendliness. The exhibition shows experiments , from fashion to design – contributing to a more sustainable production process, both on a small and a large scale. All projects focus on thinking about the origin of materials and the creative process. The themes are explored not only through innovation, but also through the rediscovering and valuation of crafts and locally produced products. The exhibition is curated by Lidewij Edelkoort and Philip Fiveano in collaboration with the Tilburg Textile Museum. During Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week, the museum is offering free guided tours of the Earth Matters exhibition. These tours will take place on the 7th, 8th, 12th, 14th and 15th of October at 13.45, 14.45 and 15.45.

Reading durable fashion with Carmen van der Vecht from Rambler

This reading and lecture takes place on Saturday 7th October from 14:00, and will last for about 1 hour Rambler is a streetwear clothing brand designed with the street fashion of cities like Amsterdam and Berlin in mind. Rambler opened its first studio on the Zeedijk in Amsterdam, and is a winner of the WGSN Global Fashion Awards 2015 | Sustainable Design. During her lecture, Carmen will talk about how Rambler came about and how sustainability plays an important role in their organization. In particular, social sustainability is the starting point of Rambler. Surprising young people are the rough diamonds of the Rambler brand. They are the rigors and designers of the Rambler garments and get a design fee when selling them. In the Rambler Studios, they learn from professional coaches different skills in the fashion subject and work with social coaches very hard on their own path. Every Rambler Ambassador shows his own story with his own clothing line. A face with a story … becomes a story with a face. Carmen van der Vecht is the founder of Rambler and has a background as a sustainable industrial designer and documentary photographer. Since 2000, she has photographed a large number of street children in cities such as Accra, London, São Paulo and Amsterdam for her series.

Reading Durable Fashion with Marieke Eyskoot

This reading and lecture takes place on Thursday 12th October from 15:00 and will last for about 1.5 hours. Fairly made clothing is inspiring, innovative and fashionable. It’s also accessible for everyone, even though this can sometimes be unclear. Marieke Eyskoot will give an overview of what’s wrong in the fashion world, and will also give some excellent tips on what you can do to contribute to sustainability. This promises to be an afternoon of concrete and positive tips and tricks for developing and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle (and an excellent wardrobe). Marieke Eyskoot is a sustainable fashion and lifestyle expert, and author of several books. You can attend the lectures and guided tours for free, but an admission fee for the museum itself will be in place. The venue for the lectures is the msueum’s auditorium at Goirkestraat 96 in Tilburg. Register for any of the events above by simply emailing communication@textielmuseum.nl.

Tips on choosing sustainable fabrics There are many choices to be made when choosing sustainable clothing, and some fabrics may be new to you and sound a little unusual, but the team at Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week have put a little guide together to help you get the best out of responsible sartorial choices. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, and is easy to grow. There’s no extra water needed in the cultivation of bamboo and because the bamboo itself creates an antibacterial substance, no pesticides are needed. In addition, bamboo helps the greenhouse effect because it absorbs CO2, and bamboo does this better than ordinary trees. Hemp is another alternative sustainable fabric, and is one of the fastest growing crops, growing twice as fast as cotton. Hemp does not damage the soil much as much as some other crops and requires little or no fertilizer. Less fertilizer means less pollution of the soil and waterways. The roots of the hemp plant are very deep, and hemp is therefore very suitable for growing on all kinds of soil and reducing erosion, plus, hemp fi bre is ten times stronger than cotton fibre, so it’s much more durable. Tencel is an extremely smooth and versatile sustainable fabric that is made of wood pulp. The production process is much more environmentally friendly than the production of viscose, which is also made of wood pulp. Tencel clothing feels super-soft, dries quickly and falls as beautifully as silk, but is extremely strong and durable.

The wonderfully named “peace silk” allows silkworms to come out of the cocoon and complete their entire life cycle. This is done on special farms or by collecting wild silk from silkworms not grown and kept on a silk farm. Angora wool is a fabric a lot of people will be familiar with, and it has cause a lot of controversy in recent years. The animal rights activist group PETA distributes fi lms showing how Angora rabbits are being plucked alive for Angora wool, causing pain and abuse to the animals. Since then, many fashion retailers have committed to no longer sell Angora that is not ethically sourced. A better alternative might be organic wool, which is wool of sheep who are only sheared in spring, and the wool is then not treated with chemicals or any unnecessary medications. For organic wool there are also strict requirements surrounding the living environment of the sheep, and they graze on land that is maintained without fertilizer. The wool of these sheep is entirely processed in an environmentally friendly way: no harmful dyes and no harmful chemicals. Alpaca wool is derived from the alpaca, and is ten times warmer than sheep’s wool. It has the quality, appearance and softness of cashmere and silk and is anti-allergenic, which is great for those with allergies or sensitive skin. It is free of lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. Alpaca wool is naturally water repellent and fi re resistant, and extremely resistant to dust and other irritants. Alpaca wool belongs to the most luxurious wools and is also often compared to mohair and cashmere. Another area of growth in the sustainable fashion world is the recycling of polyester and polypropylene, which saves on raw materials and energy. Ecologically tanned leather ensures that no artifi cial tanning materials are used for tanning this type of sustainable leather. In addition, this leather can be burned or recycled without harmful emissions. Vegan leather is a pet friendly alternative to leather, with a leather look made from vegetable raw materials. A common material used in vegan leather is soy. Soy is the only natural protein in from which textiles are made. It is made of soy bean casings, after the beans have been used for tofu, soya milk or other food. Soy clothing feels silky smooth and can be washed effectively at cold temperatures.

Making the change makes sense

Another advantage of sustainable clothing is that it doesn’t have to be expensive at all, on the contrary, it’s often cheaper due to the valueper- wear ratio. Eco-friendly clothing is generally far more durable than traditional cotton clothing, and this also improves the quality of these products. At fi rst glance, a biological cotton t-shirt seems a bit pricier than a plain cotton shirt but this t-shirt will last much longer. While a cotton t-shirt becomes worn, stretched, pilled and undesirable after about 20 washes, a biological cotton t-shirt will last on average 10 times longer.