Homme to Watch.

Designer Martijn van Strien


The fashion industry runs on innovation, realises Martijn van Strien (1988). This is one of the reasons for the young designer to enter into the experiment. By working with different kinds of production techniques and equipment and by rethinking consumption in a responsible way, he hopes to create a sustainable industry.

After gaining experience with Bruno Pieters, Van Strien launched The Post-Couture Collective, an open source project that offers consumers the opportunity to produce their own clothes to prevent wastage of materials. He’s not afraid this will lead to companies running of with his designs he says. “Take the garment designs I share online for example.” He explains. “Someone could take these into mass-production and start selling them, but then you completely lose the value of the idea that people can produce these clothes to their own liking.”

Have you become interested in fair production by Bruno Pieters, or has that always been your focus?
"I have to admit that before my time at Bruno Pieters I’ve never really thought about sustainability or fair production. At the Design Academy I simply didn't know what was wrong with this industry yet, because the bubble you live in then was so far away from the real world. During my time at Bruno’s Honest by label I’ve discovered how the fashion industry really works, and with this knowledge I starter forming my own vision about fair and sustainable production. 

Who do you think is responsible to make the first move towards sustainable production?
“That’s a bit like the chicken or the egg question. Fashion companies will have to develop new ways of production, but if their customers don’t ask for it, they’ll never invest their time and money in its development. That’s why I think the first responsibility is with designers: they are the ones that can explain new products or systems to consumers. If they're able to convince customers to demand better products, suppliers will of course see why they need to make these investments.”

It seems that consumers are becoming more conscious, yet at the same time fast fashion-chains are growing. Can you see any improvements happening?
"It will still take a while until fast fashion-chains can close their doors, but there’s so much talk about the importance of sustainability lately that I believe no-one will be able to continue to ignore it in the near future. The growth of these chains has a lot to do with the lack of knowledge among consumers.”

You've already mentioned it in your manifesto, but what is the role of designers in the open source-principle?
"Designers become a kind of facilitators. We design products or services to a certain level and then build a framework for customisation by the end user. I develop a dress design that automatically adjusts to the measurements of a customer, and make sure that they can create it out of any material. Thus the vision of the designer remains, and the user gets to wear exactly what he or she was looking for.

Would any brand be able to use this principle?
"I think almost all brands already make use of a large amount of open source-knowledge, and thus should be able to grasp the value in sharing developments. The step to also start sharing your own ideas is a tricky one, but good examples will lead the way in that. I believe that by working together we can develop sustainable new systems much quicker and better than any company could ever do on its own. That’s what we need right now in order to find good and attractive alternatives for current industries and to reverse things like climate change.”

Where do you get your inspiration for shape and color? Does modern technology play a role in your aesthetic as well?
"Aesthetically I’m inspired most by architecture and other manmade structures. Buildings, bridges and other structures are often constructed in very ingenious ways, while clothing is usually made very simple. By approaching it like designing a building you come to very innovative solutions.   I use modern technology for production, but I try not to incorporated in into the garments that I make. Because that often feels a bit gimmicky, I think.“

Besides your own label, you are also part of the Post-Couture Collective. To what extent do those two things differ?
“Not so much. The idea behind Post-Couture arose from research I did for my own collection. My label mphvs was about experimenting with new materials and processing techniques for aesthetic effect, such as laser cutting. What I learned there I apply now with a more practical purpose. I now also think the Post-Couture project is much more interesting than my own collections, since here I can focus on the technology behind the production of clothing, and work together with fashion designers who are much better at designing clothes than me.”

What does your fashion utopia look like?
"I see a future world in which we create all the products we need from the same material. So you can take an old pair of pants to a Makershop and have it recycled into a new chair, bike, or jacket on the spot. By endlessly recycling materials we save the environment and can still regularly wear something new. I would like to play a part in developing that future."

L'Officiel Hommes NL

Martijn van Strien