‘It’s logical that Fashion Talks takes place in Antwerp’

Fashion Talks described itself as ‘the most relevant conference on how the fashion industry actually works and evolves’. On Thursday 16 November, national and international speakers and visitors gathered in the Waagnatie Expo & Events Centre. ‘Every year, I visit a lot of fashion events, all around the world, but Fashion Talks really stands out,’ says American fashion journalist Jessica Michault enthusiastically.

Flanders DC, the event organiser, inspired the fashion sector with Belgian and international entrepreneurs, journalists, experts and other fashion professionals. There was no better place for them to share their knowledge with the public that a catwalk set up in the centre of the hall. ‘The impressive list of speakers is one of the points with which Fashion Talks sets itself apart,’ remarks Jessica Michault. ‘Take Tommy Ton (Canadian fashion photographer – Ed.) When you successfully encourage someone of his stature to fly all the way in to appear at your convention, you really do make a difference.’

Creative people

‘It’s logical that an event like Fashion Talks takes place in Antwerp,’ says visitor Julie Clautier from the Antwerp office of the UPR Press Agency. ‘No matter which way you look at it, Antwerp is the biggest fashion city in Belgium. You have so many creative people here.’

‘You definitely notice that at Fashion Talks,’ says Jessica Michault. ‘This event embodies the creativity of the Antwerp fashion sector. You notice the elegant scenery, the colours, the clothing and the poetic atmosphere. Even the choice of chairs and food is creative!’

Transparency and sustainability

Sustainability in the fashion sector is one of the prominent themes at Fashion Talks. ‘Fashion is the second most polluting sector in the world,’ acknowledges Elin Larsson from Felippa K. The Scandinavian fashion brand invests strongly in sustainability and hopes to use only sustainable materials along with a completely transparent production process by 2030. It’s music to the ears of Antwerp’s Bruno Pieters and Geert Bruloot, with whom Larsson participated in a debate. As a designer, Bruno Pieters and his company, Honest By, guarantee full transparency into production and prices. As a retailer, Geert Bruloot wants to make it clear that his clients are the focus. ‘Everybody decides for themselves what to buy. And I would say: buy less and buy better.’

‘Sustainability is a hot topic, especially with the press,’ says Kim Ryssack from the UPR Press Agency. ‘It is very interesting to hear what the big players think about it. We can share this knowledge with our own clients.’

Fashion quickly picks up trends

Networking is a spearhead of Fashion Talks. Luc Opsomer represents Drawy, an app for protecting intellectual rights. ‘I made about 20 appointments to present my product.’

Others, such as Danny Vermeulen, come to be inspired. ‘With my company, StrinnLab, I research trends. I want to learn things here that I can pass on to clients who want to go into fashion. Fashion is a sector that picks up trends extremely quickly. Take a look around you at how all the people here are dressed.’

Antwerp is internationally recognised as an avant-garde fashion capital. The ideas that are born in the city have a global impact. To highlight the influence of Antwerp’s fashion industry and promote it to an international audience, the City of Antwerp recently launched the ‘Dressed by Antwerp’ campaign. Tom Smith (Editors) and Élodie Ouédraogo (athlete) are the ambassadors of the campaign.
The City of Antwerp has been participating in MAPIC, the leading European retail trade show, for several years. The City of Antwerp has a booth at the trade show to enhance the city’s international profile as an investment location for retail activities.
An internationally recognised fashion city, Antwerp is a shopping city by extension. It offers something for lovers of exclusive fashion labels, hip concept stores and major shopping chains; retailers are happy to respond to their diverse interests. ‘Antwerp has a lot to offer retailers,’ confirms Ann Hayen from Hayen-Paris real estate services.