The brands that have it all – 5 questions to Marieke Eyskoot the founder of MINT
Dlaczego MINT odbywa się w ramach ogromnej, komercyjnej imprezy zajmującej aż 14 tysięcy metrów kwadratowych? Jakie są reakcje kupców i dziennikarzy? M.E.: Cieszą się, że mogą tu być! To jest taka trochę inna część targów, gdzie nie ma tradycyjnych stoisk i wszystko zorientowane jest na produkt w minimalistycznej przestrzeni. To dla mnie wielki zaszczyt, że jesteśmy jedną z najczęściej odwiedzanych sekcji w całym Modefabriek, równie miło mi słyszeć, że dla niektórych jesteśmy tą ulubioną. Jeśli chodzi o decyzję o dołączeniu MINT do masowej imprezy to podjęłam ją bardzo świadomie. Mogłam oczywiście zorganizować niezależne targi, ale tego nie chciałam, bo chcę być częścią obecnego świata. Zrównoważona moda należy do przemysłu mody, nie jest czymś oddzielnym. Nie chciałam stworzyć przestrzeni gdzie przychodziliby tylko Ci kupcy, którzy już zdecydowali się na marki zrównoważone, tylko przyciągnąć wszystkich i przekonać ich. Zwykle goście nie orientują się nawet, od którego miejsca zaczyna się strefa MINT
Why MINT is a part of this huge 14 000 square meters trade show and what is the reaction of buyers and press when they come across MINT? M.E.: People are happy to be here! It is an open and free part of the tradeshow that doesn’t have conventional booths because it’s really about the product, therefore the set- up is quite minimalistic and clean. Thanks to both press and buyers we are one of the most visited parts of Modefabriek which is a real honour. And I am really glad to hear some people saying that it is their favourite part of it. I moved into this in a very conscious way. I could have had started my own trade show, but then again no, cause you need to be part of this world. Sustainable fashion is part of the fashion industry, it is not something separate. I don’t want to attract only these buyers who already decided that they want to choose sustainable brands, I want to attract everyone and convince them. Normally they don’t even notice which part is MINT…until they find products they love and start talking to the brand and figure out that it is actually sustainable. And that is why I want to be a part of the, so called, established fashion world and be here so that it is possible to make a change from the inside. That’s where we can really join forces and move forward much quicker. Who knows where it is gonna go?
It’s amazing! And how do you move companies towards more green solutions? M.E.: By showing that it is possible and showcasing that it is not only ‘good for the planet’ but also very good for your company and your product. I am showing all the benefits, and trying to guide the brands and make them known, but I am really not the only one and I am not always succeeding. I hope that bringing customer’s attention to timeless pieces and seasonless collections is an upcoming tendency. How do you see it? M.E.: Two things come to my mind immediately when you ask this. Firstly I didn’t think of this all myself. A lot of brands I work with were already going this way and even more brands nowadays are developing seasonless styles. Often I find the seasons in stores disconnected from what happens outdoors and I think it’s time to make it real again. When the strict fashion industry calendar was created it was a completely different world. While today I am asking myself if these seasons still exist? And taking climate change into consideration makes it a real tough question. There was no social media when that calendar was established and business was facing more boundaries that aren’t here anymore, like between: buyers and producers, collections, seasons…Everything is much more like the continuum now. Modern fashion doesn’t get restricted by seasons and boundaries anymore.
“I want to make people feel that it is possible to stop that amazing pressure that seasons put on both production process and consumers creating so much waste in the end.”
Tell me what are your criteria towards the brands you select for MINT? I know that you require brands to go in all possible directions at once, meaning: sustainable materials, responsible production, coping with waste, certification… M.E.: I want to showcase the brands who are the best example of what can be done and that you don’t need to compromise at organic materials or workers’ rights, either decide to go for style or for good. These are the brands that have it all in their DNA. There are already many brands taking it step by step in the right direction, but at MINT I am showcasing only the brands that are pushing the boundaries of the fashion industry. Who set example and inspire others to make stylish clothes and lifestyle items and do it in the good way. That’s why firstly my criteria is style, not necessary my taste, but rather quality and timelessness. This is why this MINT edition is a tradeshow, but also a department store at the same time. I focused on brands that put quality over quantity, make collections that grow organically with pieces that never go out of stock instead of changing each season. I want to make people feel that it is possible to stop that amazing pressure that seasons put on both production process and consumers creating so much waste in the end. So here we prove you can be seasonless and that’s why you can buy pieces immediately on the tradeshow. So it is the only part of Modefabriek that is b2b and b2c at the same time.
How was it different for you to work as an activist and now as an entrepreneur in the fashion world? M.E.: It wasn’t much of a switch, to me it was a natural way. Again it was more of a continuum…and I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an activist, I simply had a passion for something and wanted to be a part of change. That’s why I really wanted to work for Clean Clothes Campaign where I felt could contribute and meet people who are real activists, real heroes, who put their lives at risk on a daily basis working for the garment industry and campaigning for better work conditions. It is a very unsecure livelihood. Being in CCC brought me all over the world, amongst others to: Bangladesh, Thailand, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and gave me a chance to meet the people behind the clothes to find out what my part in it would be. My role is to put sustainable brands on the map and enhance their work. That was why I wrote a Talking dress book, started MINT and now I am working on a new book that will be released in 2017. Talking dress was a first Dutch guide to sustainable fashion with a lot of background information for people to realize what journey is behind each garment. It is a great honour for me that in many schools it is used until now by fashion students…But of course what happened was that people started asking me questions about where are they supposed to buy better products, not only fashion. So that’s why now I’m creating a sustainable lifestyle guide with chapters on: fashion, food, health products, working, traveling, living…all! It is going to contain more of specific tips and tricks and interviews with inspiring people who are paving the way. Sort of a collection of everyone and everything that I’ve learn through the past years.