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“I wanted to show that things can be different: so is my fair fashion shop established’

In the heart of Leuven, behind a colorful display case full of plants, you can find Harvest Club: the fair fashion shop by Stefanie Vereecken. “I work mainly together with labels that are more closely aligned with my philosophy: fair trade for high-quality products.’

© Astrid Janssen

In the fair fashionwinkel Stefanie, you can not only find clothes, but also decoration and cosmetics with a fair production process you can find. They try a wide range to offer, also in price range. ‘Leuven is a young city, I want for everyone to remain accessible.’ We brought her store a visit and went to the ecological atmosphere of london.

You are a historian of education. Why have you finally had your sights set on sustainable fashion?

Stefanie Vereecken: “There are two reasons for this. I engage me for long periods of time in ecological, healthy diet, and at a certain moment I pulled that line through to clothing. I bought it used mainly of clothes in large chains and one day I thought to me: ‘where are we actually doing?’ I came also regulated in the Netherlands, and there they are already a lot more than we regarding fair fashion. That’s when I knew: how we’re busy, that’s not true.’

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“I wanted it from the beginning otherwise do: to show that things can be different. So is my store.’

‘In addition, the idea also stems from my previous job. I spent 15 years in Egypt, and what you see there is not to believe. That country is so polluted. Children play on the street just on the waste. In the village where I lived, flowed a channel, but of water there was little to discern: the only thing that you saw was rubbish, and debris. Also the eating habits in industrialized and developing countries speak volumes. There is no money for fruits, so buy them but chips and coke, because that is cheap. Those scenes have me a bit stunned beaten, which I more and more began to think about a sustainable, ecological lifestyle.’

“I’m two times been severely ill, so I got my job in Egypt had to give up. Back in Belgium, I wanted it over another bow throw, and the choice of mode was made very quickly. All I wanted it from the beginning otherwise do: to show that things can be different. And so is my store.’

Where do you look to for your a cooperation contract with a particular brand?

Vereecken: “It is important that they fit nicely within my philosophy of fair production. So I sell, for example, skin care products Cîme and Rainpharma, two Belgian global cosmetic brands with natural ingredients. In my clothes is very diverse: whether in Belgium, Europe or Africa, are produced, as long as they have a fair policy. For example, I pure Belgian pieces of An Buermans, but also lines of People Tree or Studio Jux, which are produced in countries like Nepal or Bangladesh. There, people sometimes ask. For example, I handbags that are fairly made in China. But if they are made in China read, there is immediately an alarm bell. While not everything is black and white to see: sometimes there is a positive story behind.’

© Astrid Janssen

How do you check if the brands really as sustainable as they say?

Vereecken: Fair fashion-brands may, for example, the GOTS label can be awarded. Of those brands, you know that they operate correctly. The problem is that you have such a label, of course, not just get. And small organizations often have the resources, they do their very best to help in which direction to grow. Then you should for a large part based on trust. For instance, I garments of Afrique. They do not work with ecological materials, but do it on fair trade in Uganda. They give local tailors a chance to grow. And with them I settled around the table: we speak to each other face-to-face, so I keep well informed of their activities in Africa.”

Get your customers specifically for the fair fashion story?

Vereecken: “There will definitely be people on the floor for the sustainable aspect, but I also have customers who, for example, attracted by the colorful display case. I recently read an article about the shoe brand Veja. They told that they are very deliberately not profiled as an ecological label, because they are in the first place, it wanted that their customers would choose their shoes because they think that they are beautiful. And therein, I follow them a bit: I want the story behind my clothing does not per se impose on the people. All this does not mean that the story is less important than the design. Often it is understand that what the customer is persuading to have a certain piece to buy.’

“I think it’s fine that the people from louvain take heed to the story behind the brands. They are critical. This city is clearly aware of how she lives. You see that in many aspects, also zelfoogst is working on a advance. It is nice to see how the sustainable line extended in several aspects.’

Where you can buy your own clothes?

Vereecken: “In my own shop! To be honest, I have currently just no time to go shopping. Harvest Club is a half a year now, and I’m still all alone. There are creeps really a lot of time in their own business. Very occasionally browse I sometimes by second-hand shops. I see from a very young age very much to Stella McCartney, the leading lady of the sustainable fashion. If I a – for me unfortunately not a new piece of hair to the hook can save, makes my day. But from large fashion chains I stay away, it would be pretty crazy for the philosophy of my shop, so invalidate them.’

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I can only hope that sustainable fashion is becoming more and more attention will be given to

“For jewellery I go sometimes along with the girls of the LASSO tool here in the Parijsstraat. They sell the creations of European designers, but they also make place for Belgian origin.’

It Is difficult to compete with the big chain stores?

Vereecken: “Competition, I would not necessarily call. Small retailers are certainly not easy, but I see it as something different. I don’t think that I lot of people go to lose to the customers that the big chain stores weekly platlopen. Of course my customers which shops to enter, you can’t deny it, I believe. But I hope especially that I have with my shop, the idea of alternative fashion can give to the larger public.’

‘Leuven is a young city. The area is teeming with students, and I want to remain accessible to everyone. Therefore that I also have some cheaper pieces offered. Beware, T-shirts of five euros you will not find here. Fair fashion can never was so cheap. But in this way I bring them also into contact with the more expensive brands. And I must say: I notice that some people still occasionally like to get some money set aside for high-quality clothing with a higher price tag. Also, the youth begins his salvation to be found in sustainable ideas.’

How do you see the future?

Vereecken: “My first objective for the future: the webshop is open. That is already on the agenda, but I really have to search for free time for me in the process to love, it is so busy. In the longer term, I want a case like what to expand with more brands, but also, for example, with a healthy dining. Really grow to a chain, I don’t see happening, it wouldn’t fit with me concept. I can only hope that sustainable fashion is becoming more and more attention it will get. Large chains will not soon disappeared from the scene. But if they, too, their arrows focus on fair fashion, we are on the right track.’

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