Fashion Enlightenment

Enlighten your brand by creating sanctuary stores.


On the 5th June I travelled to Amsterdam to become enlightened by Lidewij Edelkoort’s views on changing fashion and, more importantly, the world.

She begins her presentation with: ‘Can we please dim the spotlight on me, it’s too bright. Which made me chuckle as we were there to be enlightened! I guess from that point on I realised that she is confident of her views of the world and on stage. There seemed to be no way of stopping her from telling us what she is passionate about.

Fashion: Lidewij Edelkoort / Julia Zierer

Could humans become extinct?
When everthing has settled down, she declares that fashion is the world’s second biggest polluter and increasing due to greed and speed. However, there is a brand that is at the forefront against this trend: Eileen Fisher. Their mission is to use as much organic cotton as possible in their products and to have a return policy where for every piece of cloth returned you receive a refund of $5.

Items still in good condition are resold in their special vintage shops, other items are refashioned by creative students into a new collection and cashmere items are turned into wall art carpets.

Fashion: Eileen Fisher/Carolina Bedoya

Due to increased pollution we are experiencing a climate change and Lidewij suggests that a colour change is needed. Summer now appears to begin in late August and lasts into October. She explains that when visiting shops in this new summer period she feels as if she would like to run out again. ’It feels like stepping inside an inkpot’. Colours should follow climate change by being lighter.

There is an uneasy feel about these changes which has resulted in activism style clothing. Garments where you can literally retreat into to survive disasters. Bold text is also being used on cloth to communication the upcoming threat. She points out that there are increasing requests for crafted cloth i.e. not made by robots. It seems that humans could become extinct.

Fashion: Dior collection – photo credit: Giovanni Giannoni

A sense of belonging and togetherness
A natural way of coping is to go back to safer times where religion meant you were part of a strong group. This is one reason that religious icons and beliefs are on the rise.

‘The loss of religion has left people without a change to congregate and celebrate, finding solace in a common doctrine. The need to feel togetherness is growing. The place in meditative management include a shift from purely economic vision to a balance between profits and better quality of life, growth and social responsibility. Now a spiritual movement is shaping another way of doing business which is withdrawing from a materialistic economy to a spiritual economy. Fashion is at the forefront of this thoughtful evolution creating a balance between observant simplicity and generous opulence, lending cloth and clothes for diverse spiritual journeys. Shopping therapy will be replaced by mindful experiences: stores will have to become sanctuaries able to restore both body and mind. This macro trend will span the next three decades.’

Lidewij describes 16 religious styles returning in 2019/2020. I chose 5 to describe to you:

1. Taoism. A Chines philosophy that shows the way, by taking small steps every day. Natural behavior is a humble lifestyle, compassion of others and the planet, freeing yourself from ego. Fashion: Robes and coats with double ikat patterns and natural dyes like indigo mixed with stark black and white.

2. Druidism. Pagan worship with Celtic rituals. There is not one central belief system other than that of faith in reincarnation. Neo-Druids are the new active eco-worriers. Fashion: Diverse textures, fur like and the coat will be substituted with warm blankets loosely wrapped around us to keep warm in the chill mornings.

3. Animism. A belief that all objects, materials and creatures have a spiritual core. A world where all things are equal and spirited, a human is equal to its shadow. Respect for all is an instinctive understanding for animists. Fashion: Garments are creations of gris-gris and charms, skins and feathers, felt as well as foreign matter like pine and seaweed.

4. Papism. With the latest leader, Pope Francis, and his popular series The Young Pope, there was a renewed interest in this religion. He represents all people and all faiths and is known for his inclusion and respect for our planet. Papism’s social teachings and engagement are spiritual expressions of mercy, next to being a patron for art. Fashion: Papal dresses in cardinal red, flowing robes, cloaks and capelets, big shoulders and hoodies.

5. Universalism. Unity by variety, where the diversity of humans and their faiths are celebrated. Human solidarity, social consciousness and the need for a sustainable planet. Bringing people together from all regions and religions. Fashion: Combining a rainbow of influences, colours and indigenous patterns in one assembly.

Fashion: Ashish – photo credit: Cleo Glover

I was delighted to be enlightened! What I am seeing in retail is that brands are creating a strong togetherness feeling that can feel almost like a religion to live by. Maybe a brand store could be the next place of worship where like-minded followers can meet to rejuvenate body and mind.

At the company I work for, Tchai, we create brand sanctuaries through concept thinking, flagship stores, concept stores, pop-up stores and product presentations. As the name reveilles we have Chinese roots, our philosophy has a strong band with Taoism, we are balancing life by taking small steps daily. We have evolved from a traditionally run company into cultivating a philosophy that’s all about maximising the personal potential of everyone involved with us.

Copy: Helen Maessen

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