How are other designers reacting to using their deadstock in your collections?
They are usually very positive, I think it’s more the PR around the brands who have a negative opinion about it, because why should a designer be offended by it? We’re basically trying to keep the garments alive. It’s better to remake something and still get the value up, rather than it ending up in a sale bin.
Could you talk a little about the trans sex workers community from Cape Town that you work with on your collections?
Yeah, we’ve been collaborating with SistaazHood since 2015. We were planning to do a show in November in Cape Town. The girls live under the bridge around the Castle of Good Hope and their biggest dream was to do a show in the castle. Because of the pandemic, we decided that it would be more effective if we start collaborating and seeing if we could set up an atelier in the city instead. So we’re planning to do a collection with them, so that they can be self-sufficient and build up their own collections because they have an amazing style. They’re super creative and it wouldn’t be good enough to just do a show. What we really want for the girls is to have an option to do design and styling, because now the only option that they have is either dealing drugs or doing sex work.
“What if we start massively shoplifting at H&M and Zara, and then create sustainable collections out of the pieces, and 50% goes back to communities that got mistreated during the process of the fast fashion industry?”
What in your view makes your clothes political and what statement do they make?
Well, I think it’s about mixing. I mean, we’re living in a culture where everyone is mixing stuff up. So I think that’s also a political message when in Vogue there’s a full Versace look or a full Dior look. My reaction towards those bigger brands is, if you don’t want to be mixed, we’re just going to cut you up, stitch it together, and then you have to be mixed.
I also have recently created ‘Stolen by Duran’, which is a concept where we ask a question :What if we start massively shoplifting at H&M and Zara, and then create sustainable collections out of the pieces, and 50% goes back to communities that got mistreated during the process of the fast fashion industry? It’s a Robin Hood approach. A lot of people were like, “Maybe you shouldn’t promote it too much?” But, yeah, why not… I presented it at the BFC’s Discovery Room. Some people were a little bit skeptical, but that’s good. I think it’s also about making people think about the whole process of fast fashion and the idea of stealing back from the biggest kleptomaniacs in a way. And also it was fun because people would expect me to do Saint Laurent and Dior, and they were like, “Oh, that’s beautiful!”. But I left all the tags on the clothes, and 30 seconds later, they realised it was Zara.
For me, as a designer and as a brand, I would like to play and fuck around with the system and see in what way we can change it. I think it’s super important because everybody’s walking on their toes. In fashion, you’re not allowed to say that, you’re not allowed to say this, you have to be careful with that – it’s always people trying to make you silent. You don’t want to do that because then that brand doesn’t want to work with you anymore. And I think that’s something that we, as young designers, are kind of fed up with. It’s also crucial to connect with other designers and instead of being competitors, create and stimulate each other – that’s the most powerful and effective way to change the system.