MOOI: the fashion festival that rocket-launches sustainability

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Sustainable fashion is the future. That is what the fashion festival MOOI will prove on the 29th & 30th of October at DE Studio. This second edition is curated by the internationally renowned designer Bruno Pieters and showcases the exciting new technology that enables eco fashion. Esther Hoedemakers and Ilja Antonneau, from art centre Villanella, explained to us why they organize MOOI.

With MOOI (Dutch for "BEAUTIFUL") Villanella is rocking the Antwerp fashion scene. Even Walter Van Beirendonck (one of the Antwerp Six, fashion icon, designer and head of the Fashion Department of Antwerp's Royal Academy for Fine Arts) will drop by for a live interview on Saturday. He'll be talking about the Fashion Department, the latest buzz amongst fashion students, sustainability and the latest technologies in the fashion industry. In short: he'll give his professional opinion on all what MOOI is about.

And that's exactly what we talked about with Esther and Ilja.

Green fashion, with the emphasis on fashion

"MOOI introduces sustainability as a new perspective to approach fashion creatively," Esther says. "For MOOI’s second edition the focus has shifted from the ecological aspect to fashion as the main component," Ilja pitches in. "The festival proves that fair fashion can be high fashion as well. There is a wrong perception about sustainability being a quixotic goal for the fashion industry."

Esther: "The cotton industry will have faded out in 10 years time so there is no choice: we have to think of other solutions to clothe people. The big brands such as H&M and Zara have realised this too. Their efforts to “close the loop” are partly a greenwashing marketing strategy, but partly they understand that their fast fashion business model is running to an end."

"At MOOI, the Armenian-Dutch Hasmik Matevosyan will address this need for new sustainable business models for the fashion industry. Watch her inspiring TED Talk to get a pretaste. The clothing library, in Antwerp introduced by Les Rebelles d’Anvers, is one possible solution, but there are plenty."

:: Tips for shopping fair fashion ::

  • Webshops are a conscious shopper’s best friend. In Antwerp, Juttu at the Meir has made it super easy to find fair fashion
  • Buy secondhand
  • Combine your thrifted items with more expensive brands. You can do ages with qualitative fashion so think about the price in the long run

Optimistic fair fashion

With a bright view on the future, MOOI highlights which designers and product developers are on the right track. "Their good practices serve as an inspiration for aspiring professionals," Ilja says. "For instance, Mats Rombaut developed pineapple leather, which opens up the possibilities of 'vegan' footwear. Rombaut’s designs are also part of the current exhibition at the MoMu fashion museum."

"That is what I like most about the designers at the MOOI exposition: they are respected by the fashion in-crowd, even though sustainability is not really perceived as cool," Esther adds.

Luckily, fair fashion will soon be the next big thing if it were all up to MOOI. The festival’s curator Bruno Pieters is one of the lead examples thanks to his 100% transparant label Honest by. Although not all designers can go as far, Esther and Ilja believe that it is better to strive for improvement than to not try at all. The designers and thinkers who are central to the festival have the guts to take a stand for the environment. And there sure is changing a lot. At MOOI’s fabric expo you can discover textiles made out of mushrooms, Freitag’s biodegradable denim and ‘smart’ fabrics that react to their environment.

And that is far from all. What would you make out of old hotel bedsheets and left-behind clothing? The six young creatives from the upcycling project TexUp will showcase their ideas at MOOI. "And no, they have not designed Greek togas," Esther remarks. One textile developer wants to use the fibres for new fabric, while a backpack designer does something innovative with grapefruit. There are myriad possibilities.

Why so serious

From fashion to fruit is not such a big step, Esther says. "Thanks to the healthy food hype, people start to ask questions about where their food comes from. MOOI hopes to create the same effect in fashion, even though it is less related to a person’s immediate well-being."

"MOOI takes on a pioneer’s role: there is still so much to discover, you simply have to take risks," Ilja states. "Otherwise you are not creating anything interesting."

Both Esther and Ilja think that the fashion industry should lighten up. "The fashion industry’s main issue, especially in Antwerp, is that it is very concerned about its own image," Esther explains. Ilja joins in: "The fashion industry is so caught up in being different and creative, they do not realise that the most daring way to be different and creative is by designing sustainable fashion."

MOOI is part of the Transitiefestival, which supports events all over Flanders about sustainability and closing the loop.

More MOOI?

MOOI, 29 & 30 October 2016

Fashion exhibitions and keynotes

DE Studio, Maarschalk Gerardstraat 4 2000 Antwerpen

€5 entry fee for half a day


Text by Tine Van den Poel

Pics by MOOI






Tine Van den Poel De Clippeleire

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