THE ANTWERP FASHION EXCHANGE
Climate change and global warming have been hot topics in the news these past few years. Some of us just get depressed by all the negativity, but not Nina Maat.
Nina realized the seriousness of the situation and took matters into her own hands. Combining her two great passions, fashion and sustainability, and with the support of Alex Bos and Valerichi Anoling van Meerbeeck, she created the first Antwerp Fashion Exchange.
This Is Antwerp met her at Host, a sustainable concept store, to have a chat about fashion, the environment, being Dutch and much more.
This Is Antwerp: Nina, how did you come up with the idea for the Antwerp Fashion Exchange?
Nina Maat: "Right now, I'm studying political sciences and in the future I want to get my masters degree in environmental sciences. While reading the newspapers, I got frustrated about the fact that there is so much bad news about global warming, and I was not doing anything about it. I wanted to contribute in the fight against global warming. I'm also passionate about fashion, so I tried to think of a way to combine those two interests.
At first I was afraid. Fashion was to shallow, not the most important thing in the world. Until I started to think a bit more about it, fashion might not be the most important thing in the world, but it is something we are all involved in. Something we come across everyday. Also, the clothing industry is one of the most polluting industries. I wanted to raise awareness for this matter without scaring people away. In Amsterdam I had seen clothing exchanges and Shop My Closet events, inspired by those I decided to host my own clothing exchange in Antwerp."
TIA: Cool, where did you go from there?
Nina: "I thought to myself: if I am going to do this, I am going to do this big. So instead of hosting the event in my garage, I contacted the Antwerp Fashion Museum, the MoMu. They were very enthusiastic about my idea and agreed to host the event. Then reality kind of dawned on me. I needed sponsors, equipment and god knew what else. I just jumped into this project, not thinking ahead. That is also how people would describe me, if you asked them too. They would tell you I am impulsive, that I will say yes to everything. At the beginning of this project I had not realized what I was getting myself into, but I do not regret it a single moment. I have learned so much, from finding sponsors, to setting up a dj-boot. So far it has been a great experience, but maybe you should talk to me again on the 26th of November, after the event."
TIA: We’ll do that. Which other personal qualities helped you with this project?
Nina: "Actually, I was born in the Netherlands and moved to Antwerp 10 years ago with my family. I am not quite Dutch but neither am I Belgian all the way. I think I have found a way to combine the best of both countries. I am a real go getter and not afraid to say what is on my mind, like so many other Dutch people. But since I have moved here I have learned to tone down and stay quiet for just a little longer. Like the good old Belgians do. These sides of my personality helped me to get me this far."
TIA: How come you’re so eager to fight against global warming?
Nina: "It might sound a bit corny, but I just love nature. I live in Kalmthout, and everyday you can find me at the Kalmthout Heather (a big nature preserve, north of Antwerp), strolling around. I find nature so fascinating, it is something bigger than myself and I would be very sad if it would go to waste. In the future I would love to travel around the world, and I really hope that the beauty of nature will remain. By hosting this event I hope I can help a little bit and raise awareness among people."
TIA: We can only applaud to that! Are you doing it all by yourself?
Nina: "I started out by planning and organizing the event on my own. But soon realized I needed some more help. While social media was growing, I was a bit sceptic about it. But after a while, I understood that is the future, and that I definitely needed to use them if I wanted to turn this event into a success. That is why I asked Alex Bos en Valerichi Anoling van Meerbeeck to join me.
They are social media experts and they are very active on Instagram. They took over the Fashion in Antwerp Instagram account, so everyone can see what is going on at the Momu. They also did an awesome job on all the networking, copywriting and sending out the press releases. The collaboration with the MoMu and the Kringwinkel (a big network of thrift shops) also worked out great. The Kringwinkel has supplied me with tables, racks and other pieces of furniture to stack the clothes on. The MoMu is helping us out the evening of the event and has also given me the opportunity to organize a real photo-shoot. Martha Canga Antonio got to wear the limited edition dress for La Maison Victor & MoMu Antwerp designed by Christian Wijnants. You can buy the dress the night of the event. And last but not least, my family and friends are helping me out wherever they can. I must honestly say that I could not have done this without them."
TIA: Lovely! So one last time for our readers, how does the Antwerp Fashion Exchange work?
Nina: "This is how it works: First you go through your own closet and search for stylish clothes which you don't wear anymore. The clothes must be in good condition, you should be able to see someone else wearing them. You bring those items the night of the event. There, me and my team will check the quality of the clothes. Once the clothes are approved we put them into the collection. For every item that is exchangeable you get a ticket. With your ticket you can pick a new item out of the collection. Then you go home and be happy with a new stylish piece in your closet without spending any money!"
Thank you for your time Nina, we are really looking forward to the event. Sure hope to see you all there with a beautiful piece of clothing that you want to exchange!
More Antwerp Fashion Exchange?
The entrance fee for the Antwerp Fashion Exchange is 5 euro. With that ticket, you can swap clothes and visit the Rik Wouters exhibition at the MoMu for free.
Check the Antwerp Fashion Exchange on Facebook for more information.
Text by Marian Van Sprakelaar
Pics by Stephanie De Smet, Usman Abdul & Marian Van Sprakelaar