Marcha Hüskes creates clothes that make style look easy. Her timeless pieces, made from sustainable and high-quality materials, originate from a mindful and sustainable core. As a fashion designer, Marcha has been aware of her responsibility towards the environment long before sustainability became the norm. She is an expert in the field of fair fashion and today she shares her thoughts on the future of retail, and what she thinks the ideal world would look like.
“My greatest wish would be for the world to stop exploiting everything that lives and for the balance of nature, people, animals and earth to be restored.”
How mainstream is sustainable fashion now and what is the power behind your collections?
At the moment, I think that sustainable fashion is not mainstream yet. We can see that more and more people are working on it, but we still have a long way to go. I have been in this profession for a long time, starting my own brand about 15 years, and it has only been a year or two that we have positioned the brand as sustainable, but we have always been. The sustainable aspect in my collection is the timeless designs that you can continue to wear season after season. In addition, we use sustainable materials that are purchased from manufacturers in Europe. I rely on the sustainability of the materials themselves, such as recycled fibers and natural raw materials. For me, that goes without saying.
Technology plays an important role in sustainable development in all its aspects: social, ecological and economic. What do you think are the best ways to use technology to stimulate sustainable developments?
In my opinion, the most important aspect in a sustainable cycle, is using raw and natural materials, and of course recycling of those materials that have already been used. There are more and more techniques for the sustainable manufacture of new materials, for example from wood pulp, such as tencel and cupro. These are extracted from a raw material, but again, a new source is being explored. Recycling keeps the circle closed so that you don’t have to tap into a new source.
Unfortunately, we still see hordes of people with suitcases full of clothing and accessories leaving Primark on Dam Square every day. How do you think we are going to reach that group of people who currently have no interested in sustainable fashion whatsoever?
I think that is something that will continue to go on for a long time. There are people who cannot afford to spend a lot of money, but there are also people who do not want to spend a lot of money. That is a long process. I think the big companies within the industry have a huge responsibility when it comes to that, and should take action to produce their products in a responsible way. But in addition, that small group of people who already choose more consciously will continue to grow and I believe that the masses will eventually go along naturally. The young generation in particular is concerned with sustainability and more and more new sustainable brands are coming on the market. But those new brands are really aimed at the younger target group. The adult target group still needs to get informed; it is not yet in their system.
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Sustainability still has a reputation to be for the “tree-hugging” types, because it has often been promoted this way in the past. What if we would not focus on the sustainable aspect of fair fashion, but label it as ‘more exclusive’ – If you buy an item from Zara, chances are that you will run into someone at a party with the same dress. If you buy a sustainably produced item that only a selective number of pieces are made of, you are guaranteed of a unique item. Do you think that in this way, the general view of sustainable clothing brands could change?
Certainly, you also see that people more and more want to express their own style, they are tired of all walking in the same clothing everyone else is wearing. People are looking for items that are more refinement and with better values. That bit of exclusivity, I think people are increasingly embracing that.
Overproduction is one of the biggest problems worldwide, we all know that. Statistics show Zara launches an average of 500 new designs per week (20,000 per year). Do you think that there is a way back to where we, as consumers, would be happy with just four collections per year?
500 pieces per week is huge, if they would halve that, the consumer would probably not even notice. Producing four collections per year should be quite feasible, if it became more fragmented over the weeks instead of thinking in terms of the seasons. The quantities should definitely be reduced, so you can also guarantee quality. At least half of the items fast-fashion chains produce are unsuccessful. Brands should focus more on what their consumer actually needs. That way, instead of just looking at the economic value, they could easily incorporate social values as well. I believe that companies that do not take part in social responsibility and don’t realize that they have to adjust something in their strategy and system, will ultimately not be around in a few years.
How do you think we should imagine tomorrow’s retail space?
Consumers want to experience the product and they want to experience the brand. You cannot get that emotion of a screen. Retail is increasingly developing into a place where you can experience, receive personal advice and where you can discover new things. Sharing, collaborating and inspiring, that’s what retail today is all about.
What does the ideal world look like through your eyes?
My greatest wish would be for the world to stop exploiting everything that lives and for the balance of nature, people, animals and earth to be restored.
Credits: Photography by Louiza Mei King exclusively for AV-mag