Download a file, buy the fabric, cut the pattern, assemble the piece. Is this what shopping will look like in the future? It will be if Post-Couture has any say in it. While most brands are looking for the fastest way to get their product to the consumer, this young collective is asking their clients to take a step back and become part of the production process.
Five euros is all you need to download the pattern; put in an additional ten and your local Makerspace or Fablab will have it lasercut within minutes. All that is left to do then, is to slowly and delicately piece the garment together. Accessible and sustainable, please welcome a new phase in fashion history.
The idea was born about a year ago: “I wanted to design garments that could be produced anywhere, by anyone,” says Martijn Van Strien, Rotterdam-based designer and founder of The Post-Couture Collective. “I wanted to see how far I could go in eliminating the techniques that you normally use in creating garments.” The result is a clever and intricate weaving technique that allows for the garment to be assembled at home. No thread, no glue, no fuss.
After his first collection for Post-Couture, Martijn won a bursary as a part of Antwerpen Duurzame Stad (Sustainable City), which gave him the opportunity to expand his team. “I was looking for young designers who would understand the philosophy but had a completely different aesthetic than mine.” Enter Kjell de Meersman, Sofie Nieuwborg, Emmanuel Ryngaert, Sofie Gaudaen and Marie-Sophie Beinke, children of the Antwerp Academy and recent Post-Couture members. They will help develop Post-Couture by researching different fabrics, techniques and styles.
The new crew is excited to start working, especially since the project is so innovating and challenging. “When you work on something like this, it is always a challenge, because you step away from the norm. You have to rethink how clothes are made,” Kjell says.
Photography: Olya Oleinic / Styling: Denise Ruigrok van der Werven / Models: Yu Lun | 77 Models, Anne | Anka Models
Post-Couture does not want to adapt to the current system: an industry based on a never-ending search for bigger sales and lower prices. These designers are making up their own rules to a whole new game. “This project is all about rebelling, only rebelling. I’m not ready to make any compromises,” Martijn says.
They aim to produce about one collection a year, to be presented “whenever they are ready”. The main collection can be completed throughout the year with special editions or interesting collaborations. “If one of our clients sends me a proposition for a new design tomorrow, I’ll gladly add it to our website,” Martijn says. It’s all about finding that natural rhythm, “the organic-ness of creating.”
This is not easy in a culture based on fast consumption and a throw-away mentality. Hence why Post-Couture wants to make their clients aware of the time and effort it takes to produce a garment, something most fashion students aren’t even aware off. Kjell admits: “Before I did my internship, I knew nothing about where clothing comes from. There is so much that goes into a garment, so many different jobs I never knew about.”
By bringing production to the consumer, Post-Couture wants to make people care about their clothes. “Making a garment yourself creates an emotional connection. A connection we’ve forgotten.” Sofie N says “Knowing how it’s made, it makes you feel good and you want to keep it longer.”
This is not the only way in which Post-Couture garments are personalized. Since the file is sent in Adobe Illustrator, the client is free to adapt the piece, by changing the length of the sleeves, for example. “You buy it from us — it’s Martijn’s idea, our design — but then it’s still you,” states Kjell. For him, any client is a designer (in the way he styles the piece, rolls up the sleeves, matches it with other clothes) Post-Couture just takes this idea to the extreme.
This is yet another way in which these young designers reject the traditional ideals of the system. Instead of following the hegemony of a single designer, they believe the best things come in teams. “Everything belongs to everyone. If you want to develop an idea, it’s much easier to work together with other people,” Martijn says.
He is convinced by the power of OpenSource. By sharing the patterns online, Post-Couture gets regular feedback on how to improve their designs. They believe in a philosophy of exchange instead of competition. “It is not easy to let go of your designs,” admits Sofie N, “I can get protective. But in the end, the result is worth it.”
In many ways, the Post-Couture-ideal dates back to a time before pret-a-porter, where designers would sell their patterns and clients could have it made with their personal tailor. However, the collective is founded on new technologies. They are one of the few fashion brands to truly understand the advantages of the internet, and all of the young designers are craving innovation.
Post-Couture is ready for a revolution. It is time for the old system to crumble down. If everything goes according to plan, their stores will be found on every street corner. “We will conquer the world!” Sofie G adds, silently but determined.
Post-Couture will open a pop-up shop from the 2nd until the 11th of September at Born in Antwerp.
Words by Aya Noël