Fighting fashion waste from Amsterdam
Take a quick glance at the amount of waste created from fashion and textiles and your jaw will probably drop. The numbers are startling: of the 90 billion garments bought by consumers each year, around 65 billion are discarded after just three weeks. Every second, one truckload of textile waste is thrown away, and most of it is incinerated or ends up in a landfill. However, this waste has inspired The M-ODE Foundation’s mission: to change the way the world values and creates clothes.
Making a difference on this scale is a big ask, but after spending an afternoon with Peter Leferink, founder of The M-ODE Foundation, I amsterdam wouldn’t bet against him achieving everything he aims to do. Leferink certainly has the credentials; after studying fashion in Amsterdam, he moved to Belgium to work with the famous ‘Antwerp Six’ fashion designers.
Nowadays, he runs his own consultancy and is a principal design lecturer at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. His partner at M-ODE, Iris Ruisch, is a former creative director for Amsterdam Fashion Week.
Photo: Peter Leferink
Changing the mindset around fashion
As introductions go, Leferink’s vision of what The M-ODE Foundation wants to do is both bold and admirable. “With everyone we work with, we’re driven by a motivation to do good,” he explains. “And to do good things with other people. We want to promote sustainability, but also to help designers, startups and fashion entrepreneurs create long-standing relationships and healthy businesses.”
He tells the story of a single coat, passed down from his grandfather to his father, and then from his father to him. He still wears it. “In today’s world, the idea that you buy an item that you invest more in, but take better care of, and keep for 10, 20 years [doesn’t really exist]. People aren’t used to that anymore,” he adds. “Changing that mentality is a challenge, but so important.”
Though it hasn’t been around for too long, the foundation is already connecting young talent and established brands with a network of investors and partners that can help them grow and develop further. “We are able to connect people we support with a bigger network of people that are involved in business development, business ethics or business funding,” Leferink says.
Raising the profile of sustainable fashion in the Netherlands
Despite the foundation’s ambitious aims, Leferink remains optimistic about the future of sustainability in fashion, especially in the Netherlands. “Generally, people in the Netherlands don’t value fashion,” he says.
“But in terms of sustainability in fashion, we are doing okay. If you look around you could say Scandinavia is ahead of everything – they’re really into sustainability and a change of systems and approach. There’s less in the Netherlands, however there’s people here who are working hard on it.”
Photo: Bas Kosters is renowned for his unique designs
Leferink cites Dutch designers Bas Kosters, Alexander van Slobbe and Francisco van Benthum as people who are paving the way by putting sustainability at the core of everything they do. “They are really into a sustainable way of designing,” Leferink explains. “Educational centres are also really into sustainable design, so the Netherlands is catching up. And it’s becoming more important in the Dutch fashion world.”
And with that, our time with Leferink is over, but as we say our goodbyes, we can’t help but feel that he might yet see his dream of a truly sustainable future of fashion come true. Even if he has to do it one wardrobe at a time.