Long Live Fashion!

About the future of fashion and all its possibilities

15.12.2021  |  by Cato Verhoeven  |  Choose Your Story

How sustainable is fashion? What can we do to extend the life cycle of the clothes we wear? Long Live Fashion! takes you on a journey to answer these -and more- questions. The exhibition is held at the TextielMuseum in Tilburg. The museum used to be a textile factory, with the old machinery still present.

Is this the real life?

This exhibition pinpoints exactly which problems the textile industry faces. It shows its rough spots, but also its accomplishments. Like modern colonialism and the wasteful ways we handle clothing, but also what is already done to make our clothes last longer and how haute couture is on a sustainable path.

In the Microfactory, we see how you can get brand new tailor-made clothing for around €30. At the same time, you realise that you can’t possibly make clothing that cheap if you want to pay your workers fair wages and have to pay for the resources. Long Live Fashion! looks at where the fashion industry falls short, but also where it gets right back on track.

Circles by Stina Randestad

Their own footprint

To decrease their own ecological footprint, the TextielMuseum doesn’t have booklets of the exhibition. Information can be found at the exhibition itself. The materials that were used for the installations and information plaques are made of recycled materials. Bree Tahapary, Marketing and Communication at the TextielMuseum, accompanies me through the exhibition and gives me more in-depth information about what we see.

Piles of clothing

We begin with big piles of clothing. An installation by Christien Meindertsma, which illustrates the journey of clothing after the recycling bin. There are two categories: usable and unusable.

All usable garments folded neatly on the next table. "The best quality stays close to home," Bree explains. "Clothing that is brand new, with the tags still on, gets sent to Germany, France or Belgium. Countries that are further away get clothing that are close to rags. You can almost call it a new form of colonialism, which should make us all question how we actually use and value our clothes."

Garments that are no longer wearable, get cut into cleaning rags or will become new yarn. Bree: "This is quite a big challenge, because respun yarn has a different quality than regular yarn. Sometimes, it can be weaker or pill more than other times."

Fibre Market 2021 by Christien Meindertsma

The workshop

We then move to the corridor. Above, I see a rail of blouses and shirts that slowly rotate through the corridor. Students of ROC Tilburg and Summa College have a sewing workshop here called the Microfactory, where visitors can purchase a fashion item made out of discarded clothes. On the wall, we see examples of the fashion items the students can create. From the railing above, you can choose the garment that will be the base of your new piece. Your measurements can be taken through a body scan. The students apply the further styling accordingly and after a few weeks a hand-made, customised and recycled item gets sent to you.

One of the students walks up to us. “This is our graduation internship. Right now, we’re with six interns,” she explains. Bree nods. “This has been quite the adventure. It’s a small business inside of an exhibition,” he adds.

Below, you can see the Microfactory with one of its employees. She is not a student, but an employee at the TextielMuseum. You can also see one of the designs you can buy, Resignify by Miguel Peñaranda Olmeda.


At the other side of the corridor, there is a room with haute couture by Matty Bovan, Ronald van der Kemp and Duran Lantink. Bree: "With this room, we want to show that also within haute couture beautiful things are already happening. Take the collection of Duran Lantink, for example.

He made a SPRINGSUMMERAUTUMNWINTER21 collection, reusing materials from previous collections. Duran wanted to say: let’s design timeless fashion that is not seasonal.”

Back through the corridors, skipping a few rooms (what would be the fun in spoiling them all?), to the last room of the exhibition. What is happening in the Netherlands right now to make fashion more sustainable? We are shown different initiatives throughout the Netherlands. It is a way to show that not all hope is lost, that we are changing and that there are wonderful initiatives out there.

About the Author

Cato Verhoeven