These Students Are the Future of Sustainable Fashion

At WGSN we’re all about supporting the youth. Whether it’s spotlighting graduate designers, highlighting grassroots brands or doing denim lectures at universities, we feel it’s our responsibility to encourage and champion the next generation of denim industry experts.

That’s why this year WGSN and 12 second year AMFI fashion & design students have joined forces to develop 12 looks with the aim to push and explore fashion’s appropriation of denim. But while there was an expectation for forward thinking design in terms of silhouette and concept, sustainable design solutions was a key aspect for the brief. After all economic, environmental and social challenges are some of the biggest issues big business’ face today, so it’s only right that these budding designers are on top of the new innovations and sustainability trends.

Over the course of four months 12 students have passionately immersed themselves in the world of denim, researching trends, analyzing techniques and treatments, and experimenting with form, material and construction. Now, after months of dedicated hard work and inspired guidance by WGSN and industry partners including Candiani , ZDHC and Archroma, WGSN and AMFI are proud to present the culmination of their creative pursuit. The six looks exhibited here represent their vision on the future of sustainable denim in the realm of fashion.

Student: Juris Efneris

Green dyed denim, denim blue jacket

Candiani denim: LR7777 Crispy RFD & LR 7777 N-Drone Work

Instagram: @jurisefneris

My aim was to add a new dimension to garments, to make it more valuable to the wearer, and to work as sustainably as possible. In addition, I wanted to break with denim stereotypes in my designs, push denim’s boundaries. As a result I’ve created highly multifunctional looks – each piece can be worn in different ways – that combine traditional denim references with sportswear influences and high fashion detailing. Research and experimentation have been key to my process: I wanted to see and understand how denim works, how it acts and reacts to certain dying treatments, for instance, and how construction techniques can mould it into shape. Ultimately, this project with WGSN has showed me how versatile denim is: it can take on so many forms and is so easily adapted to your wishes. With its chameleon-like characteristics denim pushes change and innovation, which are both crucial to fashion.

Student: Jordy Goussey

Black selvedge denim, golden mesh top and bottoms  

Candiani denim: SL 7274   N-Pitch Appeal Preshrunk 

Instagram: @jordygoussey­

With this collection I have been exploring the boundaries of male empowerment in menswear, taking inspiration from male rock stars such as David Bowie. I wanted to create a denim collection that felt contemporary, inhered a sense of timelessness and challenged conventions. This collaboration with WGSN has showed me how Denim unites past, present and future. Denim’s history is obviously very rich and inspiring. However, at times it seems as though fashion’s appropriation of Denim is stuck in this endless loop of relaying its history. For me, Denim is so much more than that: its potential is endless in the sphere of fashion, especially when it is brought into the realm of couture and made-to-measure tailoring. This is why I chose to use classical tailoring techniques and couture finishings on this amazing deep black selvedge denim by Candiani. This has resulted in a clean look that balances boldness and sophistication.

Student: Kim van den Brule

Pink dotted bomber jacket, blue denim body and denim selvedge skirt

Candiani Denim: LR7777 Yesterday Crispy & SL7276 Sioux Preshrunk

Instagram: @kimvdbrule

My collection “playful harmony” juxtaposes an ultra-feminine archetype with the rough and tough image of denim. My aim for this look was to play with these conventions by using iconic clothing references (e.g. the bomber jacket, pencil skirt and bodysuit) in combination with bold colors and a-typical materials. The body is, for instance, made of a nearly rigid blue denim instead of a typical stretch or tricot material. It also has felled seams in reference of the seams traditionally used in a pair of jeans. The pencil skirt and its ruffles are made of a rigid selvedge denim, channeling both denim and couture traditions. Laser technology has enabled me to incorporate sustainability into my design process: with a solar-powered laser machine I’ve cut all the pattern pieces and engraved the dessin on the body. This project with WGSN has stimulated me to experiment more with denim and new technology.

Student: Marie Lamberechts

Orange coat, blue denim

Candiani denim: SB7733 Sioux Aired

Instagram: @marielamberechts

My collection is inspired by idiosyncratic young men with a liberal attitude towards fashion and dress who are not concerned with ‘fitting in’. Bold shapes, heavy-weight fabrics and strong colors are offset with subtle and refined detailing. Traditional denim and tailoring references like the welt pocket are playfully combined with sports elements like the wetsuit zipper. This collection also offers a fresh take on sustainability. This collaboration with WGSN made me realize that denim’s versatility and popularity comes with a price – its production has serious impact on our environment. As a designer I have not only a responsibility to focus on expanding denim’s creative lexicon but also on turning it into a sustainable product. Therefore I have used fabric waste as decorative detailing (e.g. the frills on the shirt and trousers) and both sides of Candiani’s Sioux Aired denim to waste as little fabric as possible.

Student: Merel Pruijsen

Black denim jumpsuit, Black denim coat

Candiani denim: RR2146 Universe OPTO & SL 7274   N-Pitch Appeal Preshrunk

Instagram: @merelpruijsen

My collection departed from the concept of ‘glitching’. To me it sometimes feels as though our world order is disrupted, as though there is a glitch in our societal system. With this collection I wanted to address this: fashion is after all a medium to express your identity, your values, your vision. My collection is an appeal for self-empowerment: find and believe in your own strength and fight for positive change. Sustainability is key in this: I have limited my collection to the usage of only two denim fabrics, both sustainably produced by Candiani, and organized my pattern cutting so that it would create the least waste. I have used an extremely stretchy denim for the jumpsuit and a very rigid selvedge denim for the coat. By juxtaposing typical female elegance in the form of the long glove-like sleeves and military details, this look channels the image of female superhero.

Student: Rik Westerman:

Orange three-pieced denim suit 

Candiani denim: LR7777 Crispy RFD

Instagram: @rikkie_west

WGSN has enabled me to explore the potential of menswear. With my collection I wanted to reform the image of the traditional business man by fusing traditional tailoring with sportswear influences and to add more color to the menswear repertoire in general. In addition, I wanted to create a fierce and streamlined look that could be quickly adapted to the occasion. Nowadays it is very important to have an active lifestyle and to be fit. This outfit is multifunctional: in theory this suit enables you to take a jog straight out of the office. The jacket, for instance, channels the formality of business wear in shape and construction but is injected with some serious urban swag through the bold colored denim, mesh-like detailing and muscle dessin on the sleeves.


Photo credits Fréderique Peckelsen

Want to read more on sustainable fashion? You’ll love this blog post.

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.