We catch up with Maartje of Fashion Studio M.E.N, based at Makerversity Amsterdam
M.E.N have been selected for the Fashion Makes Sense Award, an award for young, conscious new generation designers with innovative ideas for sustainability. The award is awarded during the Dutch Earth Week (October 2017) in Maastricht with the winner receiving prize money to fund a new sustainable collection. Maartje of M.E.N is currently on our Under 25’s programme in Amsterdam and uses the workshops to create beautiful textured pieces. We caught up with her to find out a bit more about her process, inspirations and what’s next!
What is the M.E.N mission?
M.E.N. criticizes the role of the fashion designer in the current industry. They experiment with innovative techniques but don’t limit their artistic freedom.
Tell us a little about your team
We, Maartje Janse, Elysanne Schuurman & Nikki Duijst are M.E.N.: a design studio of 3 female designers with a shared vision. After studying at three different art academies in The Netherlands, we met each other during the project MOAM Collective 2016. After this project, we decided to start M.E.N.
Can you talk us through your process?
After several experiences in the fashion field of us three designers we decided we wanted to combine our strengths to start with M.E.N. In the process we questioned every step and tried to take every action as sustainable and innovative as possible without losing our creative spirit.
The collection pieces have been made with use of stock materials from different designers such as Walter van Beirendonck and Mattijs van Bergen. We have used the zero waste pattern technique to challenge ourselves in reducing the amount of waste. We have collaborated with Reblend, a recycled yarn company. We also collaborated with Meesteropleiding Coupeur (Tailoring School in Amsterdam), to keep the production as local as possible and work together with amazing craftsmen of the school. Textilelab Amsterdam supported us with knowledge and Makerversity Amsterdam of course with the Under25 program, which I (Maartje) am part of. And the lovely community, the workshop and so on.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
For this first collection M.E.N. takes the traditional roles of male and female out of its original context. Costume, craft and sports influences are set in a diametric opposition. During the show M.E.N. says ‘ES TUT MIR LEID! Ich habe mich verwählt.’ The battle and role of distribution in the fashion industry can also be seen in the choice to involve the ARC Amsterdam Lowlanders, who have been performing a scrum during the show. The team’s passion for rugby is rooted in integrity, solidarity, discipline and mutual respect.
How do you make use of the workshops? e.g which machinery/tech and where does it end up within the final pieces?
I have been working with the lasercutter for the final pieces, to be seen on the pictures. We have been testing a lot during the process. The green bomber jacket is entirely lasercut, even all the patterns. That started from the zero waste technique and the idea to automate the production a bit more and try to do more of the production part close to home. It was a good tryout. I think that in the future we can improve that even more.
What has been the most satisfying moment of the project so far?
I think for us that was the show at Amsterdam FashionWeek. We have been working on the project for 6 months and it was a great experience to see the final result during the show.
During the event we exhibited one of the garments at the Future Generations exhibition in collaboration with Karlijne Opmeer. The garment was dyed with bacteria, the most sustainable way of dyeing fabrics nowadays. Right after the show we got the chance to sell the collection at X Bank, a concept store in Amsterdam. Those days had been crazy but also very satisfying.
What are your biggest struggles currently? Where are you looking to gain more support?
Would be really good to have an investor/sponsor or more support on business strategies.
What does having access to Makerversity’s facilities and network offer a company like yours?
Makerversity offers us a more professional approach to our work and the possibilities to use certain facilities together with other makers. Every day I learn from people in the workshop at Makerversity. I also like the community, all the likeminded people around. Totally a good environment!
A big thanks to Maartje, and best of luck!