How sustainable is haute couture? Well, it’s probably the slowest form of fashion, as everything is bespoke and made-to-measure – meaning that a garment is made for a specific client – and hand tailored by expert artisans in a Paris atelier using exclusive, high-quality materials. In many ways, this would be the definition of sustainable (except we don’t know anything about how and where the fabrics were made, or about dying, transportation, energy, packaging, waste, etc.). However, the idea that something is not mass-produced, but rather unique and bought as an actual investment, is one we truly like.
Dutch designer Ronald van der Kemp calls his work demi-couture with a positive ethical message, and describes it as more democratic (and sustainable) than the traditional haute couture. The red carpet-appropriate pieces in his “wardrobes” – displayed twice a year at Paris couture week – does not only stand out in that they are designed to be unique, limited-edition and season-less, but also as they are made from pre-existing materials. Celebrating exclusivity, craftsmanship and creativity, van der Kemp has taken a circular approach to fashion by working with deadstock fabrics, which forces him to be even more inventive with his designs. Our guess is that this is a very rare (if not singular) thing in the world of couture where there is otherwise supposed to be no limits to the excess and extravagance.
As every piece in the RVDK “wardrobes” stand alone, there is no theme and no trends – only beauty, as far as the designer is concerned. With a firm belief in the ethos that clothes are not throw-away products, but rather something to cherish and buy with a conscience, he strongly disapproves of the current culture of over-production (as do we all). Advocating real change, apposed to sustainability as a marketing tool, van der Kemp is urging the big conglomerates to change their systems, take responsibility for their actions and slow down productions; as these are not just issues for the fast fashion industry.
With plans to expand his line of “Sustainable Couture” with all-sustainable perfume, skincare, sunglasses and jewelry, we’ll no doubt be keeping a close watch on the RVDN house to see how they’ll tackle what’s ahead. In the meantime: explore the brand here and follow here.
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