When women are driven by passion and compassion, they achieve great things. No matter the cause -large or small- pursuing a passion to enable social change is one of the most worthwhile things anyone can do. Argentina-born Romina Pirani and Leticia Bordoni, co-founders of PAUSE POP UP, are prime examples of women who are successfully pursuing their passion to work toward solving a problem. That problem is fashion’s growing pace of production, overconsumption and Fast Fashion malpractices. Not uncommon, these are fashion’s modern challenges that many of this generation’s designers and fashion entrepreneurs are trying to find answers to.
PAUSE was born out of Pirani and Bordoni’s shared passion of conscious fashion, with a mission to raise awareness around sustainability and help people change their ways as consumers by presenting them sustainable options on the market. With its third edition on the way, Pause is Amsterdam’s brand new Sustainable Fashion platform. Collaborative and inclusive, the pop up event features local and international sustainable brands, along with exuberant exhibitions and performances, focused to trigger the audience to explore the healthy alternative. What defines sustainable fashion and should we stop buying from the likes of H&M, Primark and Zara entirely? I met with Romina and Leticia to Pause and talk about sustainable fashion, Amsterdam and their mission to conquer the industry.
Sustainable fashion is a broad and complex term. What does ‘sustainable’ mean to you?
We’ve decided to call it ‘conscious fashion’ and work with different criteria of sustainable fashion, from fair trade to organic or vegan brands, to certificated and handmade products from communities all over the world. Everyone has their own approach to sustainability and we believe that we should give all those ideas and interpretations space for the audience to choose one that works for him or her.
Tell me about Pause, how did it start and what challenges do you face working within the sustainable concept?
We met on a plain, pure by chance. You can say it was an obligatory pause. Neither of us believes in coincidences and obviously, to us this wasn’t one either. Living our lives outside Argentina, we started brooding on the idea of how to present some of Argentina’s greatest independent designers in the Netherlands and from here Purapatria.com was born. Later, the idea rose to introduce people to a new consumption experience, one where they could pause -like we did- and rethink about their current choices as consumers. We started developing the P A U S E concept after looking for spaces to show and sell sustainable fashion. For both of us, being surrounded by art and fashion in a space where everyone can get inspired to rethink their consumer choices and have the voice to share their experience and stories is fundamental. We decided to create such space and allow it to move around like a circus; starting in Amsterdam and looking to rolling the event out in other European cities. Right now we are thinking of doing an edition in Berlin.
As for challenges, we have noticed that even with the growing awareness around fast fashion practices currently, there are still lots of people that don’t know they have the option to wear clothing and accessories that are made in harmony with our planet and human rights. We find that it is still necessary having to explain people each story behind each brand, before they truly want to invest in buying conscious products. Awareness is rising, but we’re not fully there yet, it is still an ongoing process.
Some say we should stop buying clothes from H&M, Zara, Mango and Primark, but wouldn’t we then be harming the income of skilled people in third world countries if we stopped buying from these stores entirely?
It is as not as black and white as it seems. For us, nothing should be abolished. Instead, we find it is much more interesting to have different options out there and to inspire both consumers and brands to produce consciously and push the audience to consume less and better with the time. Every decision we make as a society has consequences upon others. It is in our hands to find new solutions for skilled people in other countries to start working for more conscious brands and designers, who also really can value their work in return. It’s fundamental to spread the message and help each other become guardians of consciousness to accelerate change. Besides, what are really the possibilities if we stop buying ‘entirely’ from these stores as you mention? We have to push them to do the right thing instead! It’s a two-way situation; inspiring consumers to buy less and buy conscious, and brands to produce conscious and value the people behind their products.
While some can afford to pay ‘a fair price’ for a pair of jeans, for many low income families, sustainability is a far away phenomenon. Everyone has the right to look decent and feel good about themselves, don’t we need a mass market for those who cannot afford a 300 Euro’s blazer or dress? What is your solution?
Budget always plays a big part of a purchase. For those with a smaller or restricted budget, we think swapping clothes or buying from second hand shops are the best answer for now. Personally, we are actually fans of both ourselves. Also, it makes all the difference in terms of showing personality because in those spaces everyone can find unique pieces that better contribute to show aspects of ones personality- more than a mass produced piece that is meant to last a year or so. At the end it is all about consciousness: If we can switch our brains on to understand that it is better to have less but better clothes, and what positive effects such decisions have for people in other parts of the world, we are able to make a real difference. That is part of our job too. We are planning some actions for our next edition around giving up clothing, instead of throwing clothes out.
What about Amsterdam? How are things blooming here? Are people enthusiastic about sustainable fashion?
Amsterdam is a city that clearly embraces sustainability and new ideas. Every year we see the amount of events and stores dedicated to sustainable fashion rising. There is a growing audience here that is very interested in the origin and process of the products they buy. It has been an amazing experience for both of us getting to work with people like Rosa Van Ederen, our PH and an enthusiastic member of Fashion Revolution Netherlands and with Chanel Trapman from Mumster Productions- her work is focused on telling stories framed in the sustainable concept and she did a great job with us as content manager and videographer for Pause.
Pause’s second edition launched in December 2016 in Amsterdam. What can we expect from its third edition?
Our second edition of P A U S E was a great success. We were sponsored by Copperhead Gin and collaborated with exhibitions varying from Studio Patrick Matthews, Olivia Malena Vidal and had several moving performances from Jos Daamen, Tashi Iwaoka and Robbert van Hulzen, curated by Irina Osterberg, who also performed during the opening day. Our Next edition will be this March 30th until the 2nd of April held at the Posthoornkerk, an iconic venue in one of the busiest shopping streets of Amsterdam. We invite everyone to join us, come in and allow yourselves some time to think about your wardrobe and about the way you want to present yourself to the world. You’ll be able to choose between more than 20 sustainable brands, varying from local to international brands. It will be a multi-facetted experience to “Pause the way you like”, where we’ll provide an environment for you where different possibilities and interactions can be realised. What to expect? Tons of inspiration in an outrageously cool location, with a mix of national and international garments, music and talks, inspiring art exhibitions and unique performances. But above all: you can expect to be surrounded by people who are just as inspiring and driven to the cause as you are!