Has anyone else become exhausted from seeing every brand on the face of the earth from Zara to Balenciaga to Nike attempt to wow teens with their latest iteration or rerelease of the dad shoe? All the different options now blend together, and I'm beginning to yearn for the day the trend cycles out (except putting comfort first, that can stay forever). This one track industry mind makes it exceptionally difficult to discover footwear designers exploring other ideas outside of the dad space. Cue my excitement when stumbling upon recent Artez Institute of the Arts and Dutch Shoe Academy grad Evita Bouwmeester's fascinating footwear collection while browsing one of my favorite resources, Concept Kicks.
Bouwmeester's footwear collection, aptly titled Régénéré, aims to counteract the fast fashion model where clothing and shoes are copied by brands at all price points, forcing the industries to move at a quicker pace and use cheaper materials to keep up—like with the dad shoe. To create the collection's trippy silhouettes, Bouwmeester used a scanner to copy and rearrange design details found on popular sneakers. Some of the shoes even feature double mid- and outsoles, flipped and piled on top of one another.
"My graduation collection Régénéré derives from my interest in the fashion industry, where high production speed, low prices and rapidly rotating collections define the industry. The fashion industry has changed into a productive machine, new collections are developed under high pressure, demanding products to be in store within weeks. As a consequence of this circulation speed, various items of the fast-fashion brands/chains, such as Zara and H&M, are inspired by or copied from collections of high-end fashion brands like Balenciaga, Prada or Chanel. To enable this process, the fast-fashion industry applies downgrading of product quality, material use and detailing of the exclusive-fashion. In fast-fashion it is not the question whether copying is used, but where and when inspiration turns into imitation.
In my research, I examine the possibility of breaking this fast-fashion circuit and thereby discuss the consumerism and our production needs within fashion. By using double, or even triple copies, I try to reach absolute limits of possibilities and, consequently, re-assess our meaning of originality and authenticity. By recopying, throughout a scanner, I aim to create a new shaping language, which transforms the already copied fast-fashion item into high-fashion footwear."
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Régénéré is a beacon of hope, proving young designers are aware of fast fashion's problematic nature, especially when it comes to overwhelming repetition and low industry standards. Bouwmeester couldn't have designed this collection at a more appropriate time.