Fashion Designers on Their Right to Exist
Fashion and art have several touching points. But where other art forms get critical reviews, fashion does not. Fashion magazines – depending on brands to advertise and to provide their stylists with clothes for fashion editorials – usually report about new brands and collections rather than judging them journalistically. Many fashion editors are friends with the designers they write about, leaving little or no room for critical questions.
Hence, most fashion brands have never had to justify their existence. And as much as fashion can be considered art, we must remember one thing. Fashion, not only fast fashion, is a mass-production business. The part of fashion that includes clothes meant for people to wear is always commercial, no matter how avant-garde, political or environmentally friendly the brand may be. In this series, we have asked fashion designers a question they might have never heard before: Why do we need you?
We will keep asking this question to every designer we come across, so stay tuned.
Born in China and raised in Sweden, Louise Xin is a self-taught fashion designer and founder of Scandinavia's first rental-only none sale couture brand.
Why do we need you?
”I think that we are all needed. Why am I needed? That’s a difficult question. Let me start by quoting my favourite poet, Rumi. He wrote: ”Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” I try to follow that. I’m not trying to change the industry and I’m not trying to change the world. But I am trying to change myself. When asking yourself the question ‘How can I use my platform and my role as a designer, and take full responsibility?’, you can try to do your best in your specific field, an act which will later affect the industry, the society and maybe the world.”
”I always try to think about what sustainability means to me. Everything is linked together. We focus a lot on the environmental aspect, but social welfare and human rights are just as important. If you remove the human rights part, the equation won’t even up. We can’t have conversations about sustainability in 2022 and still make money on human suffering and modern slavery. I’ve used my platform as a designer to raise those questions. I hope the fashion industry can keep flourishing without the cause of our environment and human rights.”
What's your vision as a designer?
”My business model is rental-only, a humble attempt to change our consumption pattern. I believe that everything starts from the inside. We need to change how we look at clothes, respect the humans that create our clothes, and respect what fashion really is. We need to change our lifestyle and our entire pattern of consumption. How we produce, how we consume. Frankly, the whole system.”
Photographer: Vanessa Tryde
Beate Karlsson is a multidisciplinary artist and designer working as the Creative Director of AVAVAV. Her collections usually get a lot of hype on social media. Beate Karlsson is part of SFC [Incubator].
Why do we need you?
”That’s a tough question, hard not to sound super arrogant! I try to challenge what fashion is and should be. There are so many outdated structures in the fashion industry. I don’t know if I, per se, am that important. But the movement I’m part of is important as we try to create something for the future. Something that corresponds with 2022 and forwards instead of applying the idea of the 1960s fashion house to today’s fashion scene.”
Are you looking to create a new system?
”Exactly. I’m definitely not there yet, I’m navigating through it. I also don’t want to be there yet. I don’t think you ever will be, at least not if you’re aiming towards innovation. I am trying to be innovative in terms of shapes and design, how I release my collections, and how I’m part of the fashion cycle. My vision, right now, is to create a platform that gives me a lot of creative freedom, where I feel inspired and safe in creating something new, exciting and fun – hopefully for a bigger crowd to experience.”
Do you think many designers ask themselves why they are needed?
”I believe so. When I started my first internship in New York, I soon found out how the industry was working. I realised that I didn’t feel comfortable or super inspired, and I noticed that many others working as juniors to senior designers felt the same way. There was no time to be creative, and we didn’t feel like it was the best way to work. Since then, I've tried to find my own way. And I think many others are trying to do the same. But it’s easy to fall back into the old way of working, it’s easy to get swept away into the old system. I think it’s more important today than ever to make demands and discuss how we can recreate fashion and find more fun ways to work.”