The recently opened Fashion For Good space in central Amsterdam is a highly interesting, if a little idiosyncratic, experience. On the one hand, it's an extremely conceptual space located in a prime commercial zone and surrounded by some of the most expensive stores in one of the trendiest (and richest) cities in Europe - so it feels as if it's waging war by preaching to the choir. On the other hand, no matter how you look at it, FFG is a sorely needed and interesting first step towards a better world - and one that's well worth paying a visit to.
The entrance to Fashion For Good occupies about three large-sized window displays in a historic townhouse right in front of the newly-built metro station. This ain't an understated operation - indeed, FFG occupies four entire floors - three of which are devoted to the FFG Experience, and open to the public every day in the afternoon, and a fourth which is both a coworking space and an office for the FFG foundation.
The experience itself is quite interesting: you're given an RFID bracelet, which you can use to log your fashion choice and put together a 'sustainable fashion journey' using a kiosk inside the FFG experience.
As in any museum, a few fact and figures are presented in an impactful way, there's a few video snippets, infographics and material samples. Interesting stuff - nothing groundbreaking if you've ever worked in logistics or development economics (like yours truly), but it might definitely deliver a few blows for the fashion-unconscious visitor.
Walking up to the first floor, an array of breakthroughs in sustainable fashion design are presented in collaboration with a few well-known brands. Some of these feel genuinely interesting; others look like an intern was given the task to 'please compile a list of sustainable items' and just lazily copy-pasted some press release.
All of them unfortunately feel like proof of concepts on an extremely limited production scale; Indeed, it's quite telling that, while you're welcome to get your dirty paws all over the 'regular' materials in the basement part of the museum, none of the 'sustainable' materials is available to public inspection - everything is locked away securely behind glass windows or covered with 'do not touch' signs and guarded on sight by an overzealous - if very friendly - museum guide. But it's interesting to see nonetheless, especially if you're passionate about design, engineering, fashion or simply a very optimistic person.
Looping back to the ground floor, you can personalize a sustainable t-shirt with your own design in real-time thanks to a cool video-projection kiosk. The t-shirt in question is very reasonably priced (10€/12$/80¥), and feels like a nice way to bring home a tangible souvenir.
Other actual production pieces of clothing are showcased as well, in what is probably the most interesting area of the entire expo. It is one thing to produce small-scale sustainable niche items; but to really make an impact, we'll have to find a way to scale these production processes enough that they become affordable for the general public. The clothes on display here are definitely high-end items (well into the three-figures, with some bordering on four), but they are incredibly beautiful, brilliantly designed and they just feel polished enough to be sold on the high street. From parkas made out of recycled fishnets, to chemical-free jeans, to biodegradable sunglasses, there's quite a few achievements on display, and all of them are great pieces of design to boot. This is how sustainability should (and probably will) feel like.
Leaving the experience after having pocketed a personalized fashion plan, the aforementioned recyclable t-shirt, and exchanged some warm and friendly chit-chat with the driven people behind this project, one can't help but feel a little better about the world in general.
Sure, the Bijenkorf store - with its grotesque 990 EUR Balenciaga World Hunger sweaters - is looming just in front of the exit. Sure, you're still on the high street in one of the richest places on Earth. Sure, you just bought a recyclable t-shirt which, to be fair, you really didn't need. But hey, we all need to start somewhere, and Fashion For Good is definitely a step towards better awareness and acceptance of a different way to think about the things we own.
How to visit: Just walk from Central or take metro 50 for a single stop (Rokin). There's also a huge bike parking outside.
Upcoming events: FFG regularly hosts 'meet the makers' events in which you get to mingle with interesting peeps and listen to innovators (as usually, please remember not all innovators are created equal, but most are fun to listen to). Also, book launches and creative talks. Here's the up-to-date calendar!