Sandra Niessen in Residency at the Jan van Eyck Academy, part 8

By Sandra Niessen

Dear Participants in the Conversations to Redress a Fashion Disaster,

Thank you for joining us in Maastricht at the Jan van Eyck Academy on 4 November.  That it was a great day has everything to do with your presence and participation. Many of you came from far, both within The Netherlands and from neighbouring countries, attesting to your commitment to help create a sustainable fashion system.

We of the Research Collective for Decolonising Fashion (RCDF) consider the day a success. (see our blog posts at Our main goal was to bring attention to the coloniality in the conventional definition of fashion and explore ways to move towards sustainable, decolonial fashion. To that end we presented a general introduction followed by focused discussions on fashion education, conceptions of luxury, and the role of the digital in decolonized fashion presentations.  Students and artists raised awareness about how we relate to the objects in our wardrobes. In addition, there was a book display and films, including the feature film, ‘This Changes Everything” (Klein and Lewis). We shared our conviction that deep, structural change is needed for truly sustainable fashion systems to emerge.

The RCDF also entertained the hope that you, our congregation of thoughtful ‘fashion people’, would find the opportunity to work on new synergies that will propel us all forward in constructive ways.  It was a meeting with an implied, positive future.

Since that day, the director of the Van Eyck, Hicham Khalidi, has expressed an intention to build on the foundation that has been constructed so far. We are thrilled with this announcement. Our day of discussions was stimulating, but unless our thoughts translate into sometime that can help to allay the climate emergency, it will all have been largely for naught. The window of time that we have to succeed in making the needed transformation is small.

In time, we would like to develop concrete plans for follow-up next year, but we know that these plans can only emerge in consultation with you, the participants of the day. That last conversation in our programme, “Where do we go from here” is still unfinished. It demands considerable reflection, perhaps further sharing amongst ourselves. Can the RCDF help to facilitate that? We encourage you to not leave that last conversation dangling in the air. Together we represent many talents, aspirations, countries and institutions, as well as connections, dreams and ambitions. How can the Van Eyck conversations of 4 November contribute to sustainable fashion? How can we build on the conversations in the years to come? We invite your ideas and suggestions. Our ambition is to do something of significance.

In closing, we wish you every success in your respective journeys and thank you for sharing your insights and talents, time and energy, with us on 4 November. We hope to hear from you again.


RCDF organizing team of the Conversation to Redress a Fashion Disaster

Angela Jansen, Erica de Greef, Sandra Niessen, Toby Slade


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