The Fashion For Good Experience, A Simple To Understand Approach To Storytelling

As the pace of change in the apparel industry becomes palpable, The Fashion For Good Experience in Amsterdam is attracting serious enthusiasts, curious tourists and everyone in between. 

Amsterdam, a city that is home to a number of world-famous museums like the Rijksmuseum, officially stated sustainability as one of their top priorities. So it is rather befitting that the world’s first museum on sustainable fashion is located in the city of freedom. We first wrote about the Fashion For Good Experience (FFGE) back in August 2018. A few months later, in October 2018, they opened their doors to the public, drawing in a mixed crowd of serious enthusiasts, curious tourists who happened to be in the vicinity and those who fall in between.

Image Credit: Fashion for Good

The Fashion For Good Experience, A Chic Representation Of Fashion and Sustainability

Fashion For Good is an independent body supported by industry partners including C&A, adidas, Kering and PVH. The global initiative runs a bi-annual accelerator programme in association with Plug & Play. So far, over 50 startups from that programme have been showcased at FFGE in the Innovators Lounge, with new additions in the pipeline.

History Timeline [Image Credit Fashion for Good]
Those drawn to the experience will appreciate how FFGE addresses sustainability in the apparel industry. It is a topic that is complex and one that operates in a framework built by several factors: history, social and economic. The production, mired in ugly practices, paints a dark picture of choking landfills, rivers polluted with colour dyes and abuse of workers. However, this museum consciously adopts a positive and simple-to-understand approach to storytelling.

“The museum consciously adopts a positive and simple-to-understand approach to storytelling.”

We took a tour of the space, which is spread across three floors. Representing the past, present and future of fashion, FFGE has the power to entice, whether you are an expert in this field or you are open to knowing more about the backstory of your clothes and positive actions you could undertake as a customer.

The journey of a t-shirt© [Image Credit Fashion for Good]
To bring the concept to life, Fashion For Good partnered with New-York based immersive design studio, Local Projects, whose body of work includes the 9/11 memorial and museum.  Housed in a 110-year-old building, FFGE is heavy on interactive tech-enabled experiences like infinity mirrors, wall projections and a GIF booth. Ample use of bright colours juxtaposed against white spaces instead of a stereotypical eco colour-palette, i.e. greens and browns lends a contemporary look to the museum. Larger-than-life infographics pack in generous information including the stages in the making of a regular t-shirt or the timeline that marks the journey of how the industry got to where it is today. The workers in the supply chain are subtly represented through a medley of short films. Hosts at the museum answer questions and offer guided tours of the space. Overall, the chic experience aligns with the initial brief: inform and inspire everyone.

A One Stop Shop Of Sustainable Innovations For The Apparel Industry

On arrival, visitors are given an RFID bracelet(made from recycled plastic) to digitally interact with the museum, which prompts them to take as many as 33 positive actions. With each tap, the user expresses their commitment to an action they feel strongly about, finishing off with that personalised action plan emailed to them. To continue the conversation around behaviour change, the FFGE team plans to send follow-ups and event invites to events like a mending workshop or a documentary screening, aligned to the visitor’s commitments.

Visitors are given an RFID bracelet (made from recycled plastic) to digitally interact with the museum [Image Credit Fashion for Good]
While the museum focusses on the emerging sustainability practices in the apparel industry, it’s retail space; The Good Shop offers products that already adhere to pre-determined social and environmental criteria. Currently, one can browse through the collections that include designers like Kings of Indigo, ECOALF, adidas x Parley and Insane In The Rain. The collections will be swapped out every three months and will focus on a theme, the current one being ‘Splash: Rethinking the role of water in fashion’.

” [You] can browse through the collections that include designers like Kings of Indigo, ECOALF, adidas x Parley and Insane In The Rain.”

Meanwhile, ditching the usual museum memorabilia, FFGE offers the option of a customisable Cradle to Cradle Certified™ t-shirt. Visitors can choose from 144 designs that are projection-mapped onto a life-size mannequin and have their Good Fashion t-shirt printed on-demand at the venue. This free-to access museum is open to public seven days a week. With an ongoing event calendar, the place is turning out to be the hub of all things good fashion in Amsterdam.

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Though its early days and the retail space doesn’t quite stand out from the museum, the team is fine-tuning the proposition to provide an immersive experience and experiment with offering new ways of selling apparel. And as much as the museum focusses on industry innovation, it also tries to engage with a broader set of audience by offering practical tips on garment buying, usage and repair in a manner that grabs attention.

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Molshree is a fashion consultant and researcher based in London. With a background in fashion retail, she is currently focussing on projects that propel the sustainability agenda into the mainstream.