Home is where the Arte is
Anchored in the city of Antwerp, Arternative launched its SS ’15 capsule collection last weekend. This is Antwerp got a chance to sit down with the founder and artistic director Bertony Da Silva to get a first look at the collection. Hands up and wave!
TIA: What does the name Arternative stand for?
Bertony: The name Arternative is actually derived from the word “alternative”. I once heard it in a song by a Portuguese rapper. It’s about making a difference, doing your own thing and not following the mainstream culture. Which was exactly the feeling that I wanted to reflect when I started this label: doing things differently. As I love to express myself artistically, I made a pun out of it. And thus it became: Arternative. However, lately I’m using the abbreviated name “Arte” more often, as it sounds more powerful.
TIA: At what level are you trying to make a difference with this brand?
Bertony: It’s a bit too soon to say as I’m still defining my brand. Perhaps from an aesthetic point of view? I’ve been involving the city of Antwerp in my designs, and I think it’s safe to say that there isn’t another brand that has done the same so far.
TIA: Talking about Antwerp. Some items of your previous collections have clearly been inspired by this city. From which places in Antwerp do you draw that inspiration?
Bertony: I don’t necessarily draw inspiration from particular places, but more from the vibrant culture within this city. Such as the port of Antwerp, the diamond sector, basketball and the art scene. I live here, so my city automatically serves as a creative operating base. But I don’t solely draw inspiration from Antwerp, I draw inspiration from everywhere I go.
TIA: Knowing that your brand is worn worldwide, would you draw inspiration from other cities as well?
Bertony: Sure. For other cities it may not be the typical traits those cities are known for, but more the impressions I get from wandering around. Arternative is Antwerp based, so I won’t be adding Eiffel towers in my prints (laughs). However, in previous collections I’ve already mixed the Antwerp city culture with my African roots. Maybe I’ll do that again some other time or maybe it will be a complete different culture. Who knows?
TIA: What makes you love this Antwerp so much that you’re referring to it quite often in your clothing line?
Bertony: Antwerp is a cozy and beautiful city. I grew up in this city and built my life here. Most of my friends live here as well. When I’m travelling and people ask me where I’m from, I tell them I’m from Antwerp. It’s just that I feel like representing my town. It’s a part of my identity.
TIA: In which hot spots do you find that coziness and beauty?
Bertony: For the moment I’ve been very busy with the launch of the new collection, so I haven’t visited that much in Antwerp lately. But, when I’m less busy, I like to spend my summer breaks at “Take five minutes in Paris”, a lunch bar in the Kloosterstraat, “Vitrin” at Marnixplaats or “Viggo’s” at De Coninckplein. I often go to Mata Mata Pili Pili in the Hoogstraat as well, their dishes are really good.
TIA: The heart of Arternative has become the distinctive logo for your brand, what’s the relation between that little heart, Antwerp and Arternative?
Bertony: I want my brand to be associated with positivity, which is put forward with this logo. To me, this heart only represents good vibes. The same exact vibes I get from Antwerp and the same vibes I want to give to others through the clothing line.
TIA: Last weekend you launched your SS ’15 capsule collection, how would you describe it?
Bertony: This collection is a bit smaller than the previous ones as it’s only a capsule collection. I’m actually already working on a larger SS’ 16 collection, which will be launched somewhere during fall. In the meantime I’m releasing this collection consisting of 9 items. A couple of these items are very new to what most people are used to from this brand. Thus there’s one ensemble of a printed shirt with matching shorts and a pink sweater. I did revisit a characteristic print I used for a previous collection. So while this collection is completely new, it’s also a bit familiar. The SS ’16 collection on the other hand, is totally different from what I’ve done so far. That theme will be more maritime and I’ve also used different textures and fabrics. However, the brands identity remains the same.
TIA: Your clothes have been shown in an Editorial for De Standaard magazine, but also on the popular online lifestyle platforms Hypebeast and High Snobiety. Plus, I’ve seen that PartyNextDoor wore your reversible jacket during a performance in Belgium. So what’s next?
Bertony: That’s a surprise (smiles). There’s so much more left to reach. I haven’t obtained my goals yet. I’d love to role in a big fat Beemer (laughs). No, I’m just kidding. I can only hope that Arternative will be given more visibility and that people will keep loving the clothes I design.