The State of Fashion Exhibition

Searching for the new luxury

The State of Fashion exhibition explored the ideas and initiatives for a fairer, cleaner and more sustainable fashion industry. The subtheme "Searching for the New Luxury" examined new definitions of luxury in response to urgent environmental and social issues: less waste and pollution, more equality, welfare and inclusiveness. How can we all contribute?

At the Fashion Colloquium, each speaker highlighted their vision on the future of the fashion industry plus the connection with the human desire for newness, expressive yet timeless clothes and connections. 


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Designer Oskar Metsavaht spoke about how he started 10 years ago to introduce organic cotton in his collections. His latest concept for the collection is ASAP- as sustainable as possible. Change is slow and the process of research and implementation is a long road. Start somewhere, 1% is ok, there is so much to learn along the way.

The brand Osklen has developed 50 sustainable materials over the years. The Pirarucu fish is a big fish with a sin with large scales, it is commonly consumed in Brazil. The skin was discarded after consumption which created biological pollution. Osklen uses the skin for bags and accessories. The whole process is done in a holistic social, economical and environmentally sustainable way.

Oskar spoke about the social impact of sustainability and the responsibility and possibilities of this generation. He said that maybe it will turn out that this generation is the most important in our civilisation, the Renaissance people. We have the knowledge to keep the planet alive but we have to change our mindset and behavior. A positive yet realistic view of the future and the actions needed. 


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In 2013, with Carry Somers, Orsola founded Fashion Revolution, a global campaign with participation in over 100 countries around the world. After the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed in 2013 and 1,138 people died and another 2,500 people were injured, Orsola and Carry decided it was time for action. Fashion Revolution is now a global movement with the successful #imadeyourclothes hashtag as a clear open and respectful connection with the people who make the garments. 

Orsola, a recovering designer as she called herself, spoke about the surplus in fashion. 40% of clothes are rarely or never worn, that garments are worn just 4 times in average and that 1/3  is never sold at all. Fashion waste is changing the geology of the Earth. She believes technology will save us but in the meantime, it is important to create transparency and think about reducing next to recycling. Slow down the system. Stop making waste. Adapt your design thinking to our resources. 

“Suzy Menkes asked me if sustainable fashion was a trend. I replied; no, fast fashion is.”

— Orsola de Castro

Het main message was that loved clothes last. By showing the traces of wear, the holes, the threads you make a statement. Repair clothes, and show the holes as a sign that we can't afford to waste. 


Writer David Bollier spoke about the idea of fashion as an ecosystem of commons. A self-organised social system, a system of value, fair and mindful. Where we share what is there instead of privatisation and patented ideas. 

How to reimagine fashion? How to think differently about consumption and our transactions? Artists and designers imagine the new, see the steps towards a better system. They see the first signs of an open source system where ideas and knowledge can flow freely. Where collaboratives between social life, peer governance and provisioning are formed. Like a parallel economy, with its own infrastructure. Instead of pillars, a diversification of power, a distributed commons. A society where basic needs are met first, where distribution is based on needs. Cosmo-local production close to the source, this will mean, he said, the next big thing will be a lot of small things.

Why do we buy?

In the panel discussions the questions were; "Why do we buy and crave the new?" and "How to live together, how do we communicate and value the authentic self?" Quite difficult questions but it illustrated the idea that our current societal systems no longer work and that people feel pressured.

Aesthetic sustainability is the idea that the well designed, the beautiful and the triggering are what we connect with. These are the things we want to keep and cherish, that play a role in our life. All senses are involved in our connection to our belongings. By understanding the needs and wants of people we can create a new fashion system. 

The role of language was also discussed. The tone of voice is an important part of your identity. Maybe language, the number of words to express ourselves, is just too limited and is holding us back to create a future that works for all.