Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week Enschede is committed to sustainable and fair textiles

It is “Sustainability Week”. Up to and including October 11, all kinds of events are organised in the context of sustainability. More information about the different events can be found here. Saxion alumnus Sofie van der Stelt organises the Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week Enschede. Last Friday,18 Saxion students and 6 ShelterSuit volunteers were working under similar circumstances as factory workers from China and Bangladesh. The purpose of this action was to draw attention to the poor working conditions of factory workers in these countries. All to make the clothes that we wear for a meagre wage. “Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week is about awareness and the choices you make when buying clothes," according to Sofie. In the interview below, you can find out about her motives and the importance of making conscious choices when buying new clothing.

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In short

  • Clothing factory workers in China and Bangladesh work under very poor conditions.
  • Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week creates awareness
  • Contribute to a fairer and more sustainable world through conscious choices when buying clothing
Different interests

“During my minor in South Africa, I visited a clothing factory and experienced how people work there. I did my graduation research at the sustainability department of several major Dutch clothing brands that fall under one holding. There, I learned more about the tension between sustainability and the way fashion chains want to organise their business. There are designers, merchandisers and buyers. They do not all have the same vision and interests. It was educational to look at the fashion industry from all those different angles. I have always been interested in the story behind a product. A piece of clothing hangs in a store, but how did it come about, who thought of it and produced it?

Conscious choices

As a regional manager, I am responsible for all activities that take place during the Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week in Enschede. With this campaign, we connect sustainable fashion retailers and consumers. With a sustainable shopping route, clothing exchange, vintage sales, lectures and fashion shows, we want to make consumers more aware of how they can contribute to a better world. Do you regularly buy a t-shirt for a few euros and then throw it away after one season? You can also buy your clothes in a well-stocked second-hand store, trade something, have a piece of clothing adjusted, purchase better quality clothing and use it longer. It's about making more conscious choices. Research shows that we only wear 30% of our wardrobe on average. I think it is great that everyone can start themselves in their wardrobes, even though it is small.”

Unfair circumstances

“We set up a clothing atelier in the new DCW hall on Friday 4 October. In it, we simulate the circumstances of the clothing factories in Bangladesh and China. Visitors could look in through a large window from a stand. We put our volunteers in the shop window, to make it clear to the public that they have to work non-stop, without timely breaks for food and drink and with hardly any opportunity to go to the toilet. Factory employees endure that day in, day out, for a meagre wage. Such circumstances are maintained if we continue to buy and discard clothing on the same scale we do now. There will soon be 18 Saxion students in our atelier in Enschede, supplemented by employees from Sheltersuit.

Acting based on ideals

As an FT&T student, I learned how the clothing industry works and how important the transition to sustainability is. We have to make that transition together. Now that I am the regional manager of the Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week, I can make the connection. Textiles, sustainability and project management are the themes that I want to combine. With the organisation of this Fashion Week, I have been able to expand my network enormously. I sometimes hear graduated students wondering, unsure where to start with their diploma. I’d like to say to them: step into something with confidence. Experience, learn and dare to make mistakes. You can do much more than you think. I myself notice how nice it is to focus on something that you believe in. For me, that is sustainability in the clothing industry. That interest sparked in me during my studies and only continued to grow. I fully believe in the concept as it simply adds up. I like to bring all sorts of individual initiatives and partners together, and then offer them a stage. Hopefully, I can inspire many people with it.”

Date: 9 October 2019
Source of tekst: Saxion
Author: Twente.com