FASHION DESIGNER, HONEST BY
Bruno Pieters is a Belgian fashion designer and art director based in Antwerp. In addition to his own line Honest By, Bruno has worked with brands including Hugo Boss, Martin Margiela and Christian Lacroix.
What was the initial response like from the industry when you started Honest By?
I’m not sure that matters to me. I have been asked that question many times. I think people want to know that because we live in a society where we look up to the establishment to guide us, take care of us or supply us. We are forgetting that the establishment has never been responsible for change, nor progress. If you look at our history, you will see that it has always been a small group of individuals who have created change. There is a beautiful Margaret Mead quote about this. Sometimes it’s just one person. Like Gandhi or Martin Luther King. They translated their opinions into deeds and created situations that allowed others to follow them. So to be honest, I’m not that curious about what the industry or establishment does, or thinks. Because they, and the ones who follow them, will follow anyway. We, as customers, just need to let them know which direction we want them to go in. And we do that through our purchases.
What is most troubling to you about the way fashion is currently produced and manufactured?
“Every time I buy something I want to make my voice heard.”The fact that solutions, real solutions, exist today and they are not being used. People are still giving reasons for not acting more responsibly. But part of my job is to let people know that all those reasons have now become excuses. Through the research we have done at Honest By I can assure you that the solutions are there. And the only reason why it is not happening is because we are not asking them to change. One needs to understand that money is a language. The only language the industry speaks. Every time I buy something I want to make my voice heard.
What effect did the factory collapse at Rana Plaza have on the fashion industry?
That day it wasn’t just a building that collapsed. The innocent character of Fashion came down with it. For millions of people the event has tainted the joy of observing, admiring or purchasing that which once seemed so glamorous. Worldwide sales of clothing and accessories have not been affected. But a seed of awareness was planted and that consciousness has kept growing ever since. There doesn’t seem to be a design good enough to remove the bitter aftertaste of that catastrophe. A toxicity that is present during every purchase we make. We want to assume the best, but we know better. That is the Rana Plaza effect.
“If the industry doesn’t change there will be no industry in the future.”
Do you think we can, and will, see a change in this industry?
If the industry doesn’t change there will be no industry in the future. It is important to know what it is we are trying to sustain here. This is not about the planet, the planet will be fine without us. This is about trying to sustain our own lives. None of us have the ability to create anything. We recompose and rearrange but we don’t create. Everything we know came out of nowhere. That is the mystery of the universe we all live in. Out of nothing came everything. Science has made enormous progress but it still isn’t able to create something out of nothing. We better start taking care of everything and everyone that is here. Safeguarding the people who make our clothes includes safeguarding their water and their home. Their habitat and their drinking water is also ours.
What will it take to bring about that kind of change?
“Change your mind, change your shopping list.”We can simply decide to change. The most important thing I did in my life was to change my mind. That is the definition of evolution. If we wouldn’t change our mind, women would still not have the right to vote and African Americans would still be slaves. Change your mind, change your shopping list.
You have been so supportive of this film from day one. Why?
Not only only do I believe in the film, but I believe Andrew was the right person to make it. He is genuinely concerned about what is going on in the fashion industry and, like many people, he didn’t know about the gravity of the situation. So to tell a story from that point of view seemed very important to me. Because most people do not know. Clothes seem so innocent. The biggest mistake we can make is to think that our favorite brands are not acting irresponsibly. At this point, all brands are. Some brands are making an effort. But those efforts are embarrassing compared to what can be done because the solutions are there. The problem is that the decisions are not being made. Fortunately responsible well-educated consumers are guiding brands into making those decisions.
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