Lidewij Edelkoort: "For the first time, fashion is outdated"

The second edition of Anti_Fashion debuted June 2 in Marseille, following the inauguration of the event in 2015. Founded by Lidewij Edelkoort,  Anti_Fashion assembles actors from across the fashion industry, in a bid to reflect on the changes necessary for a more sustainable sector. During the course of this year's Anti_Fashion, Lidewij Edelkoort spoke to FashionNetwork.com about her involvement and commitment to the event and industry change.
Lidewij Edelkoort at the Anti_Fashion event held in early June in Marseille - LD

FashionNetwork: With this movement, what message are you trying to send?

Lidewij Edelkoort : Together, we want to think about a complete A-to-Z renewal of the fashion industry, from education to retail. It's a big task, which is surely going to take more than twenty years to achieve. We need to prepare studies on the subject, work with students, the government and different players, as well as with brands. When I see that the Anti_Fashion video has been viewed by more than 250,000 people, there's a real urgency being felt by everyone. As a spokesperson, I think that everything is wrong in the current system. For the first time, fashion is outdated. The industry is no longer in sync with society's expectations. I had faith in fashion as a precursor for societal change, but suddenly, that's no longer the case.

FNW: What people need to act first to initiate change? 

LE : I don't think there is a priority, things are wrong all along the line. We have to begin by looking a  little bit everywhere, in the education domain, retail, marketing, manufacturing, and communication. There's no hierarchy, all is urgent. But we have to move gently cause we can't change things by force. For the second edition of Anti_Fashion, five times more people have attended the event compared to the first edition, that's already a first step. I think the evolution will happen on its own, like a virus. In my opinion, something viral is taking place.  

FNW : The question of price was raised at the first conference. Do you not think this revolution is likely to cause an overall increase in prices and then make fashion less accessible?

LE : We need to head toward an increase in price because we need to understand that there are a lot of steps that go into making a piece of clothing. A garment is the result of agriculture, of a harvest, and it must be sewn, the fibres are combed, spun, knitted, cut, dyed. After that, the piece must be transported, photographed and put into a store. So, how can a garment cost less than a sandwich? It's insane. The people manufacturing these products are suffering, and we are somewhat guilty of a sort of modern day slavery. Public opinion has a role to play. If we stop buying these items, it's already a win. I don't think that it will lead to excluding a part of the population. Behind this change, there's this idea of sharing, exchanging, renting clothes and mixing new with old. A lot of American brands are working this way today. Such is the case of Eileen Fisher, who sells used clothing for five dollars to give them a second life. With these initiatives, everyone can buy cheaper clothing. We have to understand that a garment isn't made to be worn once and then thrown, it's to be worn for several occasions.

FNW : Since the launch, what actions have you put in place and what is the next step? 

L.E. : I am doing conferences with brands, luxury groups and international department stores, and am trying to get these important players moving. I am not an activist, a politician, I speak when I have the platform to do so. I work a lot on education within fashion schools because that's where mindsets are formed. Several schools are on board and offer courses on rethinking the system. In the coming year, I hope to launch a second aspect of Anti_Fashion in the form of a trend book, summarising 15-20 directions that are thought to help make the changes happen.

Translated by Benjamin Fitzgerald

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