We can’t create a fair fashion world without a lot of passionate people working in the industry. In ‘Fair Fashion Pioneers’ we will interview brand owners, agents, designers and other inspiring people about what thrives them to do this work and how they try to contribute to a better world.
This week we meet up with Marieke Vinck. Together with Charlotte van Waes, she runs the fair fashion agency Charlie+Mary. They also run the Charlie+Mary concept store in Amsterdam and last year they started the fair fashion platform: True Fashion Collective. A few weeks ago we talked to Charlotte about the agency, so this week we will ask Marieke everything about her work for True Fashion Collective.
Why did you start your work in fair fashion?
I always wanted to work in fashion, so I started to work in the fast fashion industry at first. I found out quickly that clothes weren’t produced in a fair way. I really missed the story behind it. Eventually, I chose to focus my second study on social entrepreneurship, and after that, I started working for myself together with Charlotte. We wanted to show that you could buy fair clothes without losing fashion sense.
What does True Fashion Collective do?
True Fashion Collective brings the true fashion niche to a mainstream public. We want to make sure that true fashion is available in more places, and more people know about it. Right now it’s alive, but still very much in a bubble. We try to close the gap between the new pioneers and the mainstream fashion consumer.
In which way do you try to connect the niche to a more mainstream public?
For example, we started True Fashion Talks last year. In True Fashion Talks, we invite fair and sustainable fashion experts as well as people who are connected to mainstream fashion. In this way, we try to make sure sustainable brands can reach a bigger public.
How did you come up with the idea for True Fashion Collective?
With Charlie+Mary we were one of the firsts who was working on fair fashion in the Netherlands and we have seen the progress that has been made. We also noticed that the interest was growing. But it also seemed because sustainable fashion was so alive, and even mainstream brands were having green lines, consumers were thinking that it was already fixed. The feeling of urgency seemed to fade. That’s why we came up with True Fashion Collective. We wanted to connect to that bigger group of people to that urgency of taking action.
Do you have the idea you are already coming closer to that goal of ‘filling the gap’?
Yes, absolutely. We did a pilot with Fashion For Good and Impact Hub Amsterdam last year and had three times sold out events. Besides that, we had people following the event on live-stream and publication. The group of people showing up was very diverse; from mainstream to green fashion, but also students and press. We had a big reach and there are already collaborations coming out of the events, so it was a very positive start.
The word ‘True Fashion’ is very important for your agency and also for the True Fashion Collective platform. Why do you prefer ‘True Fashion’ instead of sustainable or fair fashion?
Fair refers to the labor conditions and sustainable refers to materials, but in the end, the complete picture is important. That’s what True Fashion means in the first place: both fairly produced and sustainable. True Fashion also means the inspiring true story behind the clothes, why it’s so inspiring and fun to work in the industry.
The goal is that fair fashion becomes mainstream eventually. Do you think a platform like thegreenlabels.com can help with that goal?
Yes! The combination of showing the products and connecting to other companies, which you do with these interviews, is very nice. In that way, thegreenlabels.com definitely contributes to that mission. I think it is important to stay critical. You have to decide what thegreenlabels.com stands for and in that way you take responsibility for that. So really show why you sell those brands.
What can we expect from True Fashion Collective in the near future?
A lot! We will continue with the True Fashion Talks of course. We are also doing some international collaborations. I think True Fashion Collective is working a lot in the background. So the talks are one visible part of our work, but backstage we are working very hard to connect people so they can have a bigger impact within the fashion industry.
We loved talking to you, Mary! Check out By Signe, represented by Chalie+Mary and available on our webshop.
Interview by Floor Boschhuizen and portrait by David van Dartel.
Event pictures by True Fashion Collective.