Photo: Fabrice Monteiro, from the series The Prophecy

Every production faces this question, from the evening news to a period drama: how do you dress the talent in front of the camera in a sustainable way? We researched the state of affairs at various costume departments last year (report in Dutch). And this showed that renting, storing for reuse and buying second-hand made the sector already considerably sustainable. Renting is, of course, a form of reuse. Many special costumes are stored and reused and clothing is bought second-hand or even used from personal wardrobes because of limited budgets. But there obviously are situations where new items are purchased or custom made. Lead actors, for example, often have to wear a tailor-made costume of good quality. In these cases it is still difficult to know whether the entire supply chain of a garment is sustainable. And there is too little knowledge about which fabrics have been manufactured sustainably and which are absolutely not. So we rummaged in the back of the closet again and wondered: is it possible to work more sustainably in the fashion industry? What if you do not have the time to mill around flea markets or second-hand shops and have no space for storage? And which stores offer the most sustainable collections if you have to buy new?

No Frills: A new sustainable fashion line

The clothing industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Most clothing is still made from materials that are not sustainably produced. The manufacturing process can also be much improved; the use of toxic chemicals as well as plastic packaging, massive amounts of transportion and often abysmal working conditions. Some believe that the fashion industry should take the lead in making the production process more sustainable by setting a good example. That’s what British Amy Powney thought too. The creative director of the London fashion label Mother of Pearl grew up in a caravan without running water and with a self-built wind turbine. Because of this background she had always had the ambition to try to start an ecologically responsible and ethical clothing line. She wanted to create clothes of which she was sure how all the materials were produced, transported, washed and how working conditions were at farms and plants. In short, total transparency in the production process. And after years of research the collection is now a reality. It’s called No Frills and consists of 34 different garments. The supply chain has been made as short as possible, so there are a minimum amount of steps between the cultivation of the raw materials and the end product. All components of the production process were valued and weighed against each other; transport distance, packaging, agricultural techniques and working conditions. This way the best approach was chosen for each piece. After all that work came the biggest surprise: the collection is cheaper than the main collection of Mother of Pearl.

Powney even takes a step further in transparency, in the webshop you can see exactly which sustainable attributes a piece of clothing has. Some pieces do not score on a lot of points, but Powney thinks it’s especially important to be honest and not to revert to greenwashing to sell a product. And that is certainly to be applauded in a time where everything is called ‘eco’ or ‘bio’. So, are steps being taking in the fashion industry to work more sustainably? Yes there are! Read more about the inspiration and approach of No Frills here.


LENA: clothing library

A Dutch initiative that could work well for smaller film productions and TV is LENA. LENA is a remote wardrobe, where you can temporarily borrow clothes from a physical shop or an online collection with a subscription. A sort of library for clothing and accessories! This is how it works:

You can go find and borrow clothes at the store in the Westerstraat in Amsterdam or have them delivered at home. But you can also have them delivered and brought back to various ‘swap points‘ in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Arnhem, Utrecht and The Hague. This way you do not have to look for secondhand clothing yourself and you do not have to pay for storage for reuse.

Of course it would be best for our industry to have a large costume depot as there used to be in the past. We are still actively looking at different options to realize this. There might for example be a possibility in the former slaughterhouse grounds in Haarlem. To be continued!


It really has to be bought..

Didn’t manage to find the right item of clothing or fabric somewhere in a collection, storage or second hand? Then the following stores and brands offer a sustainable option for purchasing new items. Taking transport distances into consideration, we only list webshops that ship from Western Europe.

Miss Green – Dutch sustainable brand with webshop

Dutch Spirit – Men’s and women’s suits. They also offer a lease option.

Salon Heleen Hülsmann – Second hand designer clothing, some items are also for rent.

Studio JUX – Sustainable, fair trade and vegan collection

Nukuhiva – Sustainable and fair trade store of TV presenter Floortje Dessing, with stores in Amsterdam and Utrecht.

Suenso – Shop in Hilversum and webshop

Supergoods – Shop in Mechelen (Belgium) plus webshop that ships in recycled materials

People Tree – British webshop offering an extensive collection

Boden – British webshop offering an extensive collection

Citizensmark – For a professional look

Komodo – Sustainable brand with webshop

Gather and See – Webshop with a collection of various sustainable brands

Looking for sustainable fabrics? Check the Refinity website for a good overview of all different providers in The Netherlands and abroad. This overview is regularly updated.

Film Harvest Map

Our previous research in costume departments revealed that there is a need for an online platform where clothing and accessories can be borrowed or rented from each another. This possibility will certainly be included in our film harvest map, the online platform for sustainable materials for the film industry that we are developing.

Curious about the methods of the most sustainable Dutch Costume Designer? Linda Bogers already worked sustainably before the word even existed. Read a report (in Dutch) of her presentation during our workshop Green Film Making in the Art Department of last year where she revealed some of her processes.