Outfit Post: Celebrating Fashion Revolution Week in the Royal Greenhouses

Fashion Revolution celebrates its fifth anniversary this year and commemorates the disaster in the Rana Plaza factory during Fashion Revolution Week 2018. On the 24th of April 2013 the factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1138 people and wounding thousands. This horrific event shook the fashion industry to its core and was the beginning of the largest fashion activism organisation ever. Fashion Revolution strives to mobilise the fashion industry, consumers and governments to keep asking this one simple question: Who Made My Clothes? 
Scroll down to read how I decided to advocate for Fashion Revolution Week.
Pictures by Tomas De Preter

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This year’s Fashion Revolution Week took place from the 23rd until the 29th of April. To show my support I decided to plan a sustainable fashion shoot this week at the breathtaking Royal Greenhouses in Laeken. A lot has changed since Fashion Revolution started their pursuit towards a fairer and safer industry. With the help of the fashion consumers they insisted safer working conditions for the workers and demanded transparency in the production chain of fashion brands.

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After the collapse more than 200 fashion brands signed the legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Because of this accord hundreds of factories in Bangladesh have become safer workplaces. Even though the infrastructure has improved the workers still face verbal and physical violence, crude punishments and sexual harassment. Minimum wages in Bangladesh have increased to 55 euro a month. It’s an improvement but this minimum wage still doesn’t equal a worthy living wage, forcing the workers to live in poverty.

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We can all make a difference

Because I’m a firm believer of sustainable and fair fashion I have created a new outfit post for you this week to celebrate Fashion Revolution Week. I’m convinced we can change the way the fashion industry works by carefully selecting the brands we buy from and cherishing our garments. That’s why I purchase clothing from sustainable brands and at second hand shops. I aim to only buy what I really need or absolutely adore and try to be creative with what I already own. You could be surprised what treasures are tucked away at the back of your wardrobe or what outfits you can put together when you’re feeling inspired.

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Posing at the Royal Greenhouses

This outfit post has a gorgeous backdrop: the Royal Greenhouses in Laeken. They’re open to the public once a year during the springtime when most flowers are in bloom. It’s definitely a must-see when you’re in Belgium. It was so remarkable I’ll probably pay a visit to the Greenhouses again next year. The Royal Greenhouses are open to the public until the 11th of May. You can find more information and opening hours here: http://open.monarchie.be/

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Wondering where I got these fabulous pieces? 
I’m wearing a Tencel blouse from Wunderwerk. The German brand produces fairly and uses ecologic fabrics. Needless to say I’m a big fan!

My skirt is a second hand find I bought in a small harbour town in Portugal, Viana do Castelo, three years ago when I was there for a photography workshop. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of this little boutique.

Years ago I picked up this oversized, pastel jumper for a few euro in a second hand shop in Antwerp called Think Twice.

My earrings were a birthday present from my boyfriend. He lasercut them out of MDF in a maker lab. Isn’t that impressive (and the cutest thing you’ve seen this month)?

During my trip to the south of France a few weeks ago I bought some jewelry from local craftsmen and –women, including this ring.

O My Bag is a beautiful brand that makes leather accessories in a fair and sustainable way. Their leather is vegetable-tanned and therefore biodegradable.

I hope this outfit post inspires you to stand up against the fast fashion industry and be creative with what you own.

I promise to write you soon!

x Sive

Conscious Consumerism

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to only possess the essential basics and the pieces you really love? Wouldn’t life be much easier if you could find everything you’re looking for without having to think where you saw it last? During my 23 years on our beautiful earth I’ve gathered so much stuff (mostly clothes of course). Now it has come to the point that I radically want to start clearing out everything I own. Over the past year I’ve hardly bought any new clothes because I know there’s a bunch hanging in my closet. And if I go about it creatively I can put together elegant and stylish outfits with what I have. I only want to buy new or second hand pieces that I really need or absolutely adore.

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That’s why it’s time to set a new rule for myself: when I buy something new at least three things I own need to go. Depending on what those pieces are I can decide to sell them, give them away to a friend or family member, put them aside for a swapping party, donate them to charity or turn them into an upcycling project. By doing this my closet will stop overflowing and I will regain oversight and peace of mind. Clearing everything out step by step won’t feel as big a burden as when I would do it all at once. This good habit will also make me think really carefully about buying something new as I know I’ll have to part with at least three things I already own if I do purchase something.

I’m very excited about working towards a less is more lifestyle and sharing my journey. A smidgen of creativity can bring you a long way especially when it comes to tweaking the clothes you already own.

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I’ll keep you posted on my decluttering project!

x Sive

 

 

Indian Summer Ensemble

Hope you’re nearly as excited as I am about my new outfit post. Most pieces of this ensemble are second hand. The beautiful oriental embroidered coat I scored at a clothing swap a friend of mine hosted a few months ago. Aren’t the details absolutely gorgeous? It was my very first swapping experience and I really loved it! We all have a fair amount of clothing hanging in our closets of which we can’t remember the reasoning behind the purchase. Believe it or not someone else will most likely love them. That’s why clothing swaps are a fun way to refresh your wardrobe without spending any money.

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My stripy skirt and cropped shirt I bought from friends who were clearing out there closet and had hardly ever worn these elegant pieces. The skirt moves beautifully because of the stiffness of the fabric and the see-through lines create linear shadows around you. The loose, cropped shirt makes the look breezy and nonchalant.

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As a finishing touch I added some accessories. The pink and gold necklace came from the same clothing swap as the coat. I know what you’re thinking: that was a very fruitful afternoon indeed! The golden, spiral shaped earrings are a find from a vintage market in the Sint-Gorikshallen in the centre of Brussels a few years ago. Every first Sunday of the month there are some great vintage treasures to be found there.

Two years ago I got this second hand purse for Christmas and have used it daily since. Unfortunately it’s getting a bit wrecked and I’ll have to start looking for a new one or try to salvage this one if possible. Tips on sustainable and fair bag brands are always welcome!

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I hope this outfit post will inspire you to make conscious closet decisions and I promise to write you soon!

 

x Sive

 

 

See you soon, Tenerife.

Oh summer, where have you gone? Your return feels like just yesterday but now autumn is at our doorstep again. I’ll be looking forward to meeting you again, hopefully sooner than later… I know, it’s borderline ridiculous how much I love summer. But how can you not be smitten with this beautiful season? The world is much more vibrant at this time of year: people are happier, nature is alive and life is spontaneous. Unfortunately summer has come and gone and in order to keep that warm feeling just slightly longer I present to you… Tenerife!

It’s only been a few weeks since I was there but it feels like ages ago. To many Belgians Tenerife is a place where the ‘oldies’ go to escape our yucky western European winters. Honestly the island has a lot more to offer than winter sun and lounge chairs. First of all it’s a great place if you want to get some surfing done during you ‘hols’. Seriously, any kind of surfing can be done on Tenerife. It’s perfect for wind and kite surfing as there’s always wind. I’m not that into sails and, to be very honest, huge kites scare me to bits but I absolutely love riding some waves now and then. If you’re in a bit of luck this island has some good waves for surfing too.

The week I was there we had four days of decent surf, which was quite good. You just need to be lucky regarding the direction of the wind. Of course supping is always an option too. The beautiful nature parks in the north are also worth a visit. I visited park Anaga, a breathtaking green nature reserve that stretches across the North of the island. Don’t make the same mistake as I did by wearing your slippery sneakers because you never know how rough or steep the paths can get. So make sure to strap on those hiking shoes and don’t forget to enjoy the scenery.

When I’m in Tenerife I also enjoy engaging in a bit of online detox. I think we all need some offline time now and again to connect with ourselves and just enjoy the moment without any distractions. We should all (including myself!) turn off that white noise once in a while and take notice of how amazing our real world is instead of obliviously grabbing onto the virtual one. Thank you Tenerife for showing me your offline beauty!

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Hope you all had an unforgettable summer and I promise to write you guys and gals soon!

 

x Sive

My Style: Sophisticated with a twist

Hi there ladies and gents,

I’m finally back and here to stay. Hope you’ve all had a lovely and crazy summer up until now. Mine has been hectic and confusing but also really fun. A fair amount of wining and dining has occurred over the last few months, some dancing and of course a lot of laughter. I’ve also met some very interesting and lovely new people while working at my new job in the sustainable fashion industry.

I’m very excited to announce my new outfit post! This combo is a mix of second hand pieces, ethically made clothing and Belgian design. My style at the moment could be described as classically stylish with a twist, or that’s how I call it at least.
(Scroll down to see the pictures)

For starters, that skirt! It was love at first sight. I spent days refreshing an e-shop page waiting for it to be priced off to a number that was acceptable for my student wallet. I now realise how insane that sounds but hey ‘a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do’. I’m absolutely loving the net-like fabric, it adds the perfect amount of edginess to the classic maxi skirt. This statement piece is not just a stunner it’s also made with love in the EU.
Skirt: Julia June

Next up: those gorgeous wooden sunglasses. Yes it’s true, they are celebrity worthy and… designed and produced in Belgium by two friends who’ve combined their love for beautifully made, sustainable and affordable design.
Pssst… their summer sale is still on!
Sunglasses: Bambooti

To make this ensemble even more glamorous I added my second hand blazer from Elisabetta Franchi. I adore Elisabetta’s designs, they’re sophisticated and always have a wow factor. This off-white/beige number is certainly a go-to for special occasions (or you know… if I just feel like being fancy schmancy).
Blazer: Second hand Elisabetta Franchi purchased at Cyaankali in Leuven.

Last but not least: my sparkly yet subtle earrings. I got these little gems at Zahia, a Belgian jewelry brand. They also sell beads and stones separately if you’d rather design your own piece or you can even have a jewel made for you personally. If your fingers are tingling when hearing the words ‘make your own jewelry’ you should definitely check out Zahia’s workshops.
Earrings: Zahia

 

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I promise to write you guys and gals soon!

x Sive

 

Made & More: a Belgian brand with a beautiful biography

While walking through the streets of the beautiful city of Antwerp last week I stumbled upon a new pop-up store by the ethical and sustainable label ‘Made & More’. I even had the pleasure of meeting the inspiring and vibrant founder Stéphanie Fellen, who’s a talented entrepreneur and slow living enthusiast. “I started this label three years ago because it was really hard to find beautiful, sustainable and affordable clothing”, Stéphanie says. “I also noticed that consumers had forgotten that each piece of clothing has a story and an intensive production process. I wanted to give the workers a prominent place within the company and that’s why every different style in our collection is named after of one of our workers.”

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A detail of the stunning pop-up shop in Antwerp.

Made & More has a manifesto with five key values that are essential to their brand’s identity. Stéphanie explains: “Good quality and a perfect fit are very important because our pieces aren’t linked to a certain season and are meant to be worn throughout the different seasons for several years.’

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Hard to choose between all the elegant and comfy pieces.

Made & More only uses fabrics of the best quality e.g. organic cotton, Merino wool and recycled fabrics. You’ll notice that the clothing feels very soft and cosy. The entire collection is made in Europe because the company realised many good manufacturers with a lot of know-how are established here. Producing in Europe also means that the transportation is brought to a minimum, which is good for our planet. On every piece you’ll find detailed description of where and how the clothing is made by scanning a QR code. By doing that the brand wants to show the customer their transparent production chain and reveal a part of this beautiful process.

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On the walls you’ll find more details on the production process.

Respect is part of Made & More’s DNA and is incorporated in their logo: ‘Fashion with respect’. This motto is applied to all the different stages and taken very seriously. The different aspects are always taken in account when decisions are made: respect for the workers, the planet, the customers,… Of course Made & More is more than a beautiful brand identity, they want to keep surprising and satisfying their customers with stunning clothing. Every piece is elegant, timeless and comfortable: a dream for any eco chic lover!

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The brand’s mission is also beautifully displayed.

I was really impressed by this brand and their designs. Do you feel like being amazed too? Then quickly head on over to their pop-up store in Antwerp or have a look on their website.

Address Made & More pop-up store Antwerp:
Wiegstraat 12
Open until the 8th of April.

The pop-up store will be moving to Maastricht, Paris and Brussels afterwards.
Check out the website for more info on dates.

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Made & More collaborates with talented bag and jewelry designers. Bag by MOIMOI.
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Cosy knits by Made & More.
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Basic T made consciously.

Words and photos by Sive Cauwenberghs

Get your fierce on with these stylish items

First of all, a very happy Women’s Day! Quickly before we start I want to acknowledge that I’m not a self-proclaimed feminist but I do strongly believe in equality. That’s why I want to send all of you lovely ladies my love and sincerest wishes. I hope you never forget you’re strong, loving and downright amazing. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Stand up for yourself, take charge of your own life and most importantly be nice to one another and support each other. There’s no need for backstabbing or gossiping because, as you know, there’s enough cruelty in the world as is. Having said that we can move on to this fierce outfit I put together for you!

Are you looking for some inspiration for a Saturday night outfit or a sophisticated work combo? This combination of beautiful ethical brands will do the trick. I know the sandals might seem a bit optimistic for this time of year but on those few sunny (almost) spring days they won’t look (or feel) out of place. If you’re not convinced, an ankle boot with a heel will do just fine too. With this outfit you’ll appear professional but definitely not boring. A slight touch of playfulness never hurt anybody.

The clothing label Anonyme Designers is without a doubt one of my favourite brands of the moment. Their feminine and elegant designs are perfect for work or Friday night drinks. Anonyme Designers supports the European Women’s Lobby, an organisation that stands up for women’s rights. With this jumpsuit you’ll look sassy and encourage women empowerment!

Jumpsuit by Anonyme Designers: € 119,- (For Belgian ethical shoppers also available at Juttu)

Matt & Nat is a sustainable and ethical lifestyle brand that specialises in (hand)bags and shoes. They stay innovative by finding new and sustainable/recycled materials without using any animal products. Their motto “Live beautifully” is simple but meaningful. Matt & Nat encourages their consumers to enjoy life with respect for humanity and the planet. If that isn’t a great motto I don’t know what is!

Matt and Nat Rubicon Handbag: € 103,95

If you love a little splash of makeup but are struggling to find an organic brand Green People is the perfect fit for you. All of their products are made without synthetic chemicals, fragrances or colourants and there’s no animal testing involved.

Instant definition Lip Crayon, colour sangria: € 11,50

The British label Beyond Skin has been on a mission to design vegan and stylish shoes since 2001. And if you ask me this cruelty-free brand is doing an amazing job at that. Who would have guessed that these sexy strappy sandals are guilt-free?

Black Felix Sandals by Beyond Skin: € 120

Belgian Designer An Buermans loves to experiment with unique fabrics. This camel-coloured jacket is handmade in Belgium with imperfect leather to obtain that vintage look. This key piece is part of a very limited edition collection. Only a few pieces were made, so don’t hesitate too long!

Jackie Leather Jacket Yellow by An Buermans: € 275,-

Helle Just Weiling, founder and owner of Grundled, wanted to design unique and affordable jewelry with a strong connection to nature through the use of wood. All of the pieces are handmade in Denmark and according to Helle: “To carry Jewelry by Grundled is to carry nature with you.”

Black Triangular Earrings by Grundled: € 26,95

Black Triangular Necklace by Grundled: € 40,-

Hope this inspires you to live beautifully!

Five unique, cool and sustainable gifts for him

Ever feel like you’re being tortured when looking for a cool, thoughtful and original gift for your partner? And not to mention the enormous challenge if you also want it to be sustainable. Stop your search ladies and gents! Because I’ve done some research for all of you out there pulling your hair out in search for the perfect gift. Here are 5 unique and sustainable gifts. I’m sure your bf will fit one of the descriptions.

If he’s a nifty design lover (who loved building stuff as a kid, and actually still does) : Makersleeve
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Makersleeve in the colour Anthracite. Photo courtesy of Martijn van Strien
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Makersleeves in the coulours Ocean Blue and Bordeaux. Photo courtesy of Martijn van Strien

The Dutch designer, Martijn van Strien, developed this clever sleeve for electronic devices that can be made on demand in just a few minutes. The digital design allows it to be customised to the specific size of your laptop, ipad or mobile phone. Martijn wants to battle overconsumption by laser cutting every sleeve after it’s ordered online. The designs are cut out in a sustainable felt fabric in the CRE8 lab in Amsterdam and are delivered at your doorstep afterwards. In the near future Martijn is planning on collaborating with Makerlabs in other countries, which will make the process even more eco-friendly. When you order a Makersleeve you have the choice to have it assembled in the lab or to do it yourself. If your partner enjoys a bit of nifty craftsmanship this is a really cool extra dimension to the present. Let’s get cracking!

Check out the clever Makersleeve here.

If he’s a selective (slightly picky) high-end spirits lover: HenTho Gin 12
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HenTho Gin in its natural habitat. Photo courtesy of HenTho Gin. Photographed by Charlotte Coenen

HenTho Gin is the one and only gin distilled in Antwerp and is a creation of The Antwerp Gin company, which consists of father and son, Hendrik and Thomas Coenen. Since they founded the company in 2013 they’ve been firm believers of small scale production, high quality goods and producing locally. Their signature HenTho Gin 12 is a robust gin made from 12 herbs and spices including fresh lemon grass, cardamom, juniper berries, black pepper and coriander. Besides the obvious treat for your taste buds, the design of the bottle and logo is impeccable. I’m afraid this bottle doesn’t come with a lock for your liquor cabinet, though!

Check out quality HenTho Gin here.

If you want him to look like James Dean (and obviously you do): Bambooti sunglasses
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Instant cool vibe with the Bambooti Skate Blue made from layered maple wood. Photographed by Marie Bouly
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Skate Blue. Photo by FotoBen

It’s not quite summer yet but there’s no harm in preparing him for the rays that are still to come. Bambooti is a Belgian lifestyle brand founded only half a year ago by two childhood friends: Freek Gielen and Pieter Van Moll. Using natural and renewable resources such as bamboo and wood is imprinted into their core business. Besides their dedication to nature, Bambooti supports ‘Eyes for the World’. This is a non-profit organisation that provides adjustable glasses to children with poor vision in third world countries. 2017 is a very exciting year for this young brand: not only have they decided to produce and source everything in Belgium but they’ve also started designing an entirely new collection out of stone.
Ps: Bambooti isn’t responsible for the extra attention your James Dean look-alike will get. Just saying.

Check out the wooden Bambooti sunglasses, cases and sleeves here.

If he secretly loves being cosy but would never admit it: Howlin’ jumper
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Enjoying the breeze in a Howlin’ knit. Photo courtesy of Howlin’
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Four Eyes – Oxford designed by Howlin’

If summer isn’t on his mind yet because he’s struggling to survive these last blistering cold winter months, treat him to a super comfy Howlin’ jumper. Howlin’ is a Belgian brand that strives to surpass trends with their durable knitwear designs. All collections are produced in Ireland, Scotland and Belgium. For the ‘Made in Belgium’ collection they were inspired by the origin of New Beat music created in Belgium by coincidence. Howlin’ explains: “There are many different, ‘mythical’ stories on how this new beat was born, but we like the story of a talented dj called Fat Ronny who was simply too wasted and played 45 rpm records at 33 rpm and pitched them +8 on his turntable. The result was a new robotic sound that was very bass driven”.

Well, now you also know how to impress your boyfriend with music facts while he tries on his new cosy jumper.

Check out the comfy and cool knits here.

If he likes to travel, work,… practically do everything in style: Plane industries rucksack
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With a Plane Industries bag he’ll look freakishly stylish, even when waiting for the bus. Photo by Plane Industries
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The Rucksack by Plane Industries. Photo by Plane Industries

Ben and Harry Tucker, two brothers who learnt to be resourceful and inventive from a young age. Their father, who was a farmer, taught them to reuse what was still salvageable. And so history was made: by using those skills the brothers developed a stylish collection of ruck sacks and travel bags made from airline fabrics that would have ended up in landfills or incinerators. The fabrics are extremely strong, lightweight, flameproof and stain resistant, which makes the bags perfect for frequent use, your entire life long. For the construction of their designs they collaborate with the best and oldest bag makers in Somerset, Britain.
Ps: Ladies and gents, I know it will be hard not to keep this piece of up-cycled heaven for yourself but think of how much you love him…

Check out the sophisticated rucksacks here.

In The Spotlight: fashion designer Cédric Jacquemyn

Cédric Jacquemyn is an Antwerp based designer who has always been inspired by the Icelandic mindset on sustainability and integrated the ferocious landscapes into the first designs of his label. Besides his fascination for nature, Cédric is intrigued by original tribal communities and communicates the harsh reality of their extinction through his current collections.

Icelandic landscapes are an inspiration for a lot of your designs. When did your fascination for Iceland arise?

“I first visited Iceland with my partner in 2008. We travelled around the country and brought our tent. The power and the greatness of nature made me realise how small we humans are. It was quite overwhelming, in a good way. At first the volcanoes and decay of nature were my focus points, a rather negative point of view. Later on my inspiration shifted towards the potential that volcanoes have to revive nature because of their ability to fertilise soil. The disappearance of certain tribal communities around the world is visible in my designs too because the decay of nature is closely linked to the number of tribes diminishing.”

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S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander
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S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander

Nature and the environment are very important to you. How do you integrate this into your designs?

“The use of natural materials and a minimization of synthetics are key to my designs. The buttons are made from wood or horn and the fabrics I use are mostly leather or silk. It’s important to me that everything is biodegradable. Items shouldn’t last longer than a lifetime. In nature everything evolves too and the clothes we make nowadays won’t be relevant in a 100 years. That’s why nature should be able to take its course with our garments. Nothing is forever and that’s ok.”

What is your view on the future of fashion?

“I believe that environmentally conscious clothing is the only correct way to make garments in this exponentially growing world. We need to overcome the dominating rule of fast fashion and focus on true craftsmanship. You’ll notice my collection isn’t in the same price range as the clothing you’ll find on the high street. My pieces are made to last longer than one season and involve a lot of manual craftsmanship. The price people are used to paying for clothes from large chains nowadays is too low for the clothing to be manufactured in an ethical and responsible way. My goal is to surpass trends and encourage people to invest in a beautifully handcrafted, eco-friendly and biodegradable coat they will wear and cherish for years to come.”

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S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander
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S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander

What are your plans for the label in the near future?

“The label started as a menswear label but we noticed that women wore the pieces too. Because the focus shifted towards tailoring and suits, women stopped wearing my pieces. That’s why I decided to make a blazer and pants for women a few seasons back. Gradually I would like to design a full women’s line by adding a few garments every year. Growing slowly is the best option because financially the label had a hard time during the recession. As a young creative I want to keep going forward but sometimes you need to do things step by step and just keep doing what your good at. I work with a lot of driven interns and hope to extend my fixed team with professionals who have the same ideas and feel as strongly about the value of craftsmanship and the environment as I do. It’s crucial to realise that nature is so much bigger, more powerful than us. It deserves our respect.”

View Cédric’s full collection here cj-ss17_007

S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander

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S/S 2017 by Cédric Jacquemyn. Image by Yves De Brabander

Project: roaring twenties fashion shoot

As some of you know already: I’m a big photography fan and an enthusiastic amateur. Mostly I’m into urban photography as I live in the city of Antwerp for the moment (I just moved back here from Amsterdam) but I also enjoy making portraits and capturing awe striking landscapes during my travels or just while doing my Sunday afternoon walks through the fields here in Belgium.

Whilst I was abroad last year studying in England I followed Advanced Fashion Photography at Southampton Solent University. I organised an entire shoot by myself and made a fashion story I’m very proud of. Luckily a good friend of mine was so kind to assist me with all the heavy lights and equipment.

The location of the shoot was The Chilworth Manor Hotel just outside of Southampton. It was the perfect décor for my Jazz Age shoot because it was rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th century with a mix of Regency and Victorian style architecture. The beautiful garden was the icing on this flapper cake.

I had the honour to have Diana Valentinova as my gorgeous model. The way she can evoke this deeply pensive and slightly sad look is absolutely stunning. The roll of a twentieth century upper-class woman with a certain edge fitted her perfectly. All of the clothing and accessories used in the shoot were either vintage, second hand or borrowed from friends. As an inspiration I researched work of the best (fashion) photographers of the twentieth century: Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Jacques Henri Lartrigue, Helmut Newton, Peter Lindberg, Irving Penn, Mario Testino…

Hope you enjoy my pictures!