Putting Together the Antwerp Six: Geert Bruloot

1 Granary, the magazine and website by the students of Central Saint Martins, has taken on a particularly interesting subject recently: Geert Bruloot - the mastermind behind the Antwerp Six, the most important group of Belgian designers in history. “He looks into a different history, close to his heart, and tells us about how he met the Antwerp Six designers and their coming to prominence,” writes the magazine. Here are some of our favorite excerpts …

I think there’s a bit of an urge today to become a star very soon. I can feel this with the students [of the Antwerp Fashion Academy]. But, the Antwerp Six didn’t have that. They had this dream and this healthy naivety to believe in it. They knew that one day they would make it, but that was it. They were sure that what they were doing was good. It went much faster than they had foreseen. And when we became too important in London, the British Fashion Council chased us out. That’s what made us decide to go to Paris.”

Moving forward, Geert’s advice for young designers: “Don’t do it the typical way anymore. Don’t go to Paris with the showroom, because it will not work. It’s too much. Think about a new way. A few months ago I walked in New York and thought: there are too many clothes, and there are not enough people to wear them all. When you have 10 stores, 8 of them sell fashion. Paris and Amsterdam are the same. Where can you buy your groceries, and where are the furniture or ironwear stores? Do we have to sell clothing in a store? We don’t know. Maybe young designers don’t need stores anymore? The future is open at the moment.”

On the current state of fashion: “I think the whole fashion system has to change. It has no possibility to survive the way it is now. There are too many clothes; there is too much pressure on the environment (the waste is gigantic); the slavery that supports it has to be stopped. I love cheap clothes because it means that the elitism of fashion is gone, people with little money can afford fashion now, but on the other hand it supports modern slavery, so we cannot accept this anymore.

All these ethics have to change about fashion. I think we have to go back to ‘less but better’. We’re missing values and emotion. When you go to see a fashion show, it’s all about products: selling bags, sunglasses, shoes, gloves — but where is the emotion?”

On the importance of pre-collections and the over-exposure of clothes: Fashion has created the pre-collections and they are easiest for the stores to work with, because they are less visible on the internet; the delivery is early and we can make the customer discover the product in the store. It’s much more diversified. The fashion collection is the message of the show, while the pre-collection has many more sides. It’s been like this for 20 years.

When pieces have been in a campaign, our customers didn’t want it anymore, and it’s still like that today. The fashion comes much later, so the time for selling it is much shorter. A shoe that has been seen in the campaigns six months before feels already worn when placed in the shop. It’s old already. That’s where the system is wrong.