MOOI Festival took place from 20-21 october in DE Studio, Antwerp. The festival offered a weekend-long line-up of fashion visionaries – curated by Murielle Scherre of La fille d’O – and explored a sustainable future for the fashion industry.
But how to talk about the future without talking about technology? Is being future proof the same as being sustainable? And could sustainability in fashion be reached by adding technological solutions? During the fashion festival three digital agencies were busy tackling some of the biggest challenges today in fashion industry: transparency, distance and waste. In a two-day hackathon, organized by Dear Tech, Switchrs and Flanders DC, they conceptualized a solution to these problems.
Milk and Cookies, together with of Maarten and Matthijs from Dear Tech, invented Marty, a bit of an evil diva-like personal assistant that helps you buy, rent, repair or create sustainable garments.
“Lots of people know they want to buy less fast fashion,” Maarten explains. “So that’s important. But the first steps are difficult, we discovered. Where to buy that first pair of sustainable trousers? That’s why we introduced Marty, he’s there to help. Marty is a bit of an asshole. What he really wants you to do is to discover sustainable fashion. He chats with you and asks you to enter what you’re wearing. He also asks about your budget, about what you like. Based on this data he can give you advice and help you define your style. And he helps you to discover local sustainable fashion.” The app lowers the barrier for consumers on how to buy sustainable fashion. And for labels, branding opportunities are clear.
Edmire.Design was amazed by the amount of shoes kids need in the first 4 years of their life. Typically, a kid needs 16 pairs of shoes, which counts for an average of 2 pairs every two months. “The speed of fast fashion is astounding. But if you can translate that speed into something good for circularity, then it becomes an excellent opportunity,” explains Vincent, founder of Edmire.Design.
Edmire.Design came up with a shoe design and a linked service that parents can subscribe to. In a next step they can customize the little sneaker, have it sent over, and on a regular base parents are asked to measure the toddler’s feet so the company automatically knows when the shoe becomes too tight and when they need to send a new pair over. The old pair is taken back and gets dismantled: the outer sole is replaced, the normal sole is treated, the inner sole is recycled and the upper part, made out of textile, is washed. A truly circular model for children’s shoes.
“We were breeding for some time on this idea of a circular kids shoe, and we’re really happy that this weekend we made it more concrete,” adds Jens Millonton. “Furthermore, it was really fun getting to know the other agencies, see each others working processes. And bonding with the team. We really do care a lot about sustainability.”
Bagaar developed a payment card that rewards sustainable consumers. David Gillain, digital strategist, explains: “One of the problems of fashion today is scale. Small, sustainable players don’t have the scale of billion-businesses like Inditex, LVMH, Nike and so on, who dominate the fashion market today. For smaller players, production is more expensive. This is what we wanted to do something about. But how could we attract customers to shop sustainably, if there are way cheaper options available?”
“People dig discounts,” David puts. “So we developed a loyalty system, Paige, that rewards people who shop sustainably. The discounts are funded by emission certificates for example, that can be bought by bigger companies or governments to compensate for CO2-emissions. That way the price difference is reduced between bigger companies and sustainable, local companies.”
“The question of how to introduce technology within traditional industries, is fascinating,” Georges Lieben, Bagaar’s founder, adds. “We do it every day, for industries from agriculture to the medical world. We know the Belgian fashion industry from the inside – we helped quite some textile companies in West-Flanders digitalize. But this was something else. This was more a question of trying to have an impact in an eco-system, it was less about developing a product. We applied the tactics of nudging, as an eco-system only changes when the behaviour of people changes.”
The public of MOOI festival reacted with wild enthusiasm to the three concepts, and the experiment can be considered a clear success.
What happens next? “That’s up to the agencies,” Annelies Desmet from Dear Tech explains. “We are providing a follow-up. Maybe things will develop in an indirect way. But even if only 5% of what happened here lives on in one way or another, that could already make a difference. It’s about the experiment, it’s about the dialogue.”
“MOOI Festival is oriented around a selection of questions, based on the biggest frustrations of experts in fashion industry. Today we look at fashion as in need of solutions. Fashion is ready for an update. There’s the idea of tech as a big pile of solutions, but tech can only be a success if it formulates an answer to the right questions, Annelies concludes. “These three agencies spent their weekend between laptops and post its, trying to do just that.”