In April we pay extra attention to sustainability at Weekend.be. We let some experts talk about their commitment to sustainability. Today we talk to Jasmien Wynants, project manager at Flanders Fashion Institute, who focuses on circular fashion and guides start-ups in the fashion sector.
As Project Manager at Flanders Fashion Institute, Jasmien Wynants developed ‘Close The Loop’ together with Plan C last year, an online tool that guides fashion entrepreneurs through the principles of circular economy and provides them with concrete strategies and tips to apply in their own business. In addition, she is also responsible for the guide that FFI makes for start-ups in fashion.
Do consumers see that sustainable fashion is the future?
I believe there is a growing interest in sustainable fashion and more and more consumers are becoming more conscious about their clothing choices. Whether therefore enough consumers already see that the future is sustainable fashion? In my opinion, we are not there yet. But perhaps the question is also: how can we ensure that the fashion industry generally evolves more towards a more sustainable sector? Imagine, as a consumer, walking into a store and having to struggle to find something that is not sustainably made instead of the other way around.
Of course, I don’t mean by this that the responsibility lies solely with the designers, retailers or producers, but a positive evolution is needed in the mindset and actions of all parties involved.’
How important are fair trade labels?
‘Labels are important, as long as we can still see the forest through the trees. Websites like labelinfo.be therefore are very important in my opinion, because they give an overview of the different labels in the world of sustainability and what they stand for. There are many different criteria and yardsticks to measure the ecological footprint or to assess whether clothing is made in fair conditions.
Even if you, as a consumer, want to buy sustainably, it is unfortunately not so easy at the moment to know how to do it. A little tip here: the GOTS label is an international label for organic textiles and takes into account both social and environmental factors.’
How do you plan to convince people to choose sustainable alternatives?
‘By showing that sustainable doesn’t always have to be expensive and certainly not ‘unfashionable’. Look at JUTTU for example, the concept store of A.S. Adventure shows a wide audience that sustainable fashion is not a niche. In the online tool we provide a lot of inspiring cases in different segments and styles to show that it does exist.
Although we mainly want to reach the fashion entrepreneurs with our initiatives, we also give the consumers information on how they can contribute. For example, we shared some very concrete tips as ‘good intentions’ at the beginning of the year. Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to hear that it’s best to iron as little as possible?’
Is there still a lot of greenwashing going on?
I think it is getting harder and harder to greenwash. Initiatives like the Clean Clothes Campaign and Rank a Brand play an important role here. In that context, I am also convinced that more transparency over the entire chain will be a necessity to work towards a more sustainable fashion industry.’
What sustainable projects do you find very inspiring?
‘In the summer Bruno Pieters organizes the expo ‘(Behind) the Clothes’ in the context of ‘Born in Antwerp’ where, by analogy with the honest by platform, he unravels the Antwerp creative fashion network, investigates it and presents it to the general public. I am also excited about the Fashion Flows trajectory, the Post Couture Collective of Dutch designer Martijn Van Strien who is now collaborating with some alumni of the Modeacademie, the clothing library of Les Rebelles d’Anvers that opens in Antwerp in April and the young designers who are holding on to a more sustainable fashion industry like ROMBAUT and Katrien Van Hecke.’