Dries Van Noten ensures his clothes are made, not produced
Dries Van Noten wanted his latest menswear collection to make a statement against the mass production which dominates the fashion industry.
The Belgian designer presented his spring 2017 menswear line in Paris last month (Jun16), with the collection featuring handmade sweaters, silk print jackets, patchwork T-shirts, beige suits and camouflage print coats. Of the range, Van Noten says he wanted to reference the Arts and Crafts movement that originated in Britain at the end of the 19th Century, where the likes of William Morris and John Ruskin called for an artisanal movement which linked the manufacturer and the consumer through handcrafted products.
“I really wanted to make the connection to the Arts and Crafts, which was an early reaction against the world where everything became produced instead of being made,” he told fashion website Buro 24/7, adding that he believes the rise of fast fashion means more consumption and also a surplus of garments at the top end. “Expensive fashion has to also be blamed, because it's just an overdose.”
At the core of his philosophy is craftsmanship, and Van Noten employs more than 3,000 artisans in India, who embroider the garments and are remunerated fairly. He explains that the job is prestigious for the craftsmen, and often gets passed on through generations of families.
However, Van Noten believes that people in the West have become so numb towards mass production that they become hypercritical of flaws.
“Sometimes, when you send these products to department stores, they send it back because there's a little weave or colour fault in it," he added. "But, you know something? This scarf was made in 45-degree heat and high humidity by an artisan, so the paint doesn't take as well under those conditions. But should those people have to stop printing because it's so hot? There is beauty in it, proof that it's handmade.”
Van Noten continues to live and work in his hometown of Antwerp, Belgium, and has shops in multiple locations worldwide, including Paris, Tokyo and Singapore.