Welcome to the “Technicolour World”of Tom Van Der Borght
“I never choose one thing”
For its 35th edition, presided by the designer Jonathan Anderson, the Hyères Festival Fashion Jury rewarded creativity and eco-responsibility by awarding its prize to Tom Van Der Borght.
The Belgian designer’s collection was particularly attractive, receiving the Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision and the Prix du public of the city of Hyères.
Partner of the Festival since 2011, Première Vision once again supported the creative process this year, accompanying the finalists in the development and production of their collection.
“You can wear them if you dare to wear them.”
That is how Tom Van Der Borght describes the garments from the collection he developed for the Hyères Festival.
Colourful, joyful and offbeat: Tom’s collection plays on the accumulation of upcycled materials such as fish leather or lace and embroidery sources from Première Vision Paris’ producers.
A collection which is in his image. Because Tom Van Der Borght is a creative multi-tasker with multi-disciplinary and eclectic talents at the crossroads between art and fashion.
For his collection, Tom Van Der Borght collaborated with the following Première Vision Paris exhibitors: AMB Factory, Ecopel, Dani, Frizza, Hurel, Ictyos, L&T Caps, Luxury Jersey, Mackent Group, Manifattura Di Domodossola, M.I.T.I., Ventures.
It is in his artistic fashion studio, surrounded by a variety of fashion, textile, graphism, video, installation and scenographic projects, that he took the time to tell us about his collection and his work with the exhibitors of Première Vision Paris.
Tom, your collections are very inspired by upcycling. How does this impact your way of working, and how does it guide and affect your work on a daily basis?
In fact, my work is based on three steps to achieve an eco-responsible approach.
I would say that the starting point of my work is the fact that I am a small studio. My creations focus on unique pieces and very small production runs and I want to create pieces with value. I like to spend time on every aspect of my creations and I consider my work as artwork. I like the idea of cherishing a piece…which is the total opposite offast fashion.
For me this is the first step to being sustainable even before upcycling because I truly believe that we have to reduce production volumes.
On the material side I really like to use leftover and overstock materials. So, one of my first question to PV’s suppliers was whether they had overstock products.
Then I am always searching for innovative products that could offer bothesthetic and responsible solutions. With some other sponsors, I am more involved in ahand-made process and an artisanal way of producing material…
It was really idealistic to work like that for me because I like the idea of working with different processes.
Accumulation is part of my work. “I never choose one thing”
And also, I always look both to the past and to the future.
Your style definitely reflects your optimism and commitment. How do you convey this in your collections?
I like the fact that people consider my work as optimistic. The fact is that my pieces are connected to my emotions and one part of my job is to give emotions to people. For me creation is a kind of a therapy, which is probably why the result becomes optimistic.
Making a collection is for me a way of dealing with life, feeling optimistic.
Ì have a background as a social worker and so I am very concerned with social topics and I suppose that my own personal life influences my will to fight against injustice. I like also the idea of questioning people about their normality. I would say it is the biggest ambition of my work. I like when people question themselves about what is normal.
I also believe that every crisis is the best moment for positive change and I want to look forward to the future. So, I suppose that this last collection is a way to surprise people in this special period. I like the idea that people feel free and want to go out of their cocoon.
Tell us more about the specific influences that went into the collection you presented at the Hyères festival?
The collection is part of a bigger artistic project. Every collection represents for me a lot of research. For this project, I didn’t want to use a classical process like most designers. For instance, I didn’t begin with a moodboard. Every collection is a piece of me, is like a self-portrait and also gives different versions of myself.
I’ve got other influences. I am for example very passionate about the full universe of Björk, the Icelandic singer. She is lifelong inspiration for me.
I also appreciate the universe of Charles Fréger, a French photographer working on the tribal costumes around the world. I feel a big connection with his pictures: tribes are part of my imagination and remain a big influence for me.
Then the British art performer Leigh Bowery remains a big source of inspiration. By using fancy disguises, he becomes as a way of fighting against injustice. The performer always breaks the limitations about female/male or body type ability which could be also part of my creations. The seven looks that I presented in Hyères are a mix of these three artists’ universes.
In creating this collection, you worked with some Première Vision Paris exhibitors. What was the process behind your collaboration with them? How would you describe your experience overall?
First, I wrote a wide list of materials that interested me. Then I had the pleasure of talking with Pascaline Wilhelm, the Première Vision fashion director, who was really ready to help me and gave me precious advice on choosing the best suppliers to build the collection. I did not have much time to spend at the show, so I visited only a few suppliers and then I sent them emails. I used PV’s online tools a lot to help me. Then I received the definitive list from PV. I was really pleasantly surprised to get so many positive reactions from them.
I collaborated differently with each of them and I have to say that for this project it was really special. I have a personal story to tell for each collaboration.
The supplier Dani, specialized in leather, gave me two pieces of leather directly at the show and I promised to make a beautiful bag with the pieces, which I did.
Ecopel, specialized in fake fur made from innovative materials, was really interested in my upcycling way of thinking, and gave me some leftover stocks just after the show. This is now evolving into a collaboration with them as I am creating graphics they will produce for their fur. The graphics are inspired from the collection I made from the leftover stocks.
I selected some samples from Ventures but with the crisis the material has to be changed so it was a very detailed process to decide how to translate the designs. It was really beautiful.
Mackent Group printed a lot of graphics on their wonderful material.
I would say that the main topic of those collaborations is that I developed a real personal relationship with all of them by sharing my inspirations.
What were your specific reasons for choosing the suppliers you collaborated with?
My decision is really connected to my way of working and my design process.
As a designer I am not used to making preliminary sketches. As in my personal life, my work is very spontaneous and organic, sometimes even impulsive. It is a full universe and I chose them because I knew each of them could help me to build one part of the universe by gathering every element. For me it was a great opportunity to mix the universes. It was important for me to marry two universes. As a child from the late 80’s-90’s I grew up with sportswear, streetwear but I wanted also to build a collection influenced by Haute Couture and Luxury.
So, by working with suppliers from Première Vision I could choose according to their specialties. The products from Luxury jersey and MITI gave me the opportunity to use top-quality jersey material with a luxury touch.
Hurel, a high-quality French supplier, specialized in Haute Couture fabrics, furnished me with overstock pieces which created an interesting mix.
When I started working with L & T caps, they even offered to work with me to conceive the full brand identity, from the labels to the tags of my own collection: A super fantastic collaboration.
Each partner I worked with gave me the opportunity of translating my collection and proposing more commercial and wearable pieces, giving value to my work.
At the beginning of the partnership, I thought that the crisis that has just begun would make working with them problematic but in fact it was a real opportunity and they all decided to support the creation and were motivated to help me even stronger.
Your designs all express an interesting take on volume, often starting with extremely small elements. Can you tell us about the components you like to use?
Layering is indeed the base of everything I do. Textures are very important to me and I consider them as special elements.
For instance, I really enjoyed working with Ictyos leather, a small French tannery. This is an incredible company producing leather from fish skin originally destined to be thrown away and the tanning process is also responsible, because it is metal-free. Limitations are something that I like in my work and the products of the tannery are particularly suitable for designing small products. I used them to create a bag with a graphic patchwork for a special project with Chloe. The salmon is a particularly thin and flexible skin very gorgeous to work with. I also had the opportunity to work with sturgeon leather which is a very rare, luxurious and quite thick leather, but I used a special technique to make it flexible and I used it on the collection for Hyeres.
I was immediately attracted to the products from Manifattura Di Domodossola and they sent me a big catalogue where I could choose elastic cords… I selected pieces with limited metrage that became elements of the bags. It offered me really beautiful base material I enjoyed playing with.
I constructed a very special relationship with all of them and the sponsors all like that I made a something different with their products than what they normally see.
I would like also to thank Supima. As a partner of the festival, they provided me with very luxurious and qualitative white cotton fabrics: white denim and tee shirt that served me as base of embroidery and also a base on which to print hand cut flock or flex print.
Your designs also tend to have strong chromatic choices, they’re quite multi-coloured. Can you please tell us more about your choice of colours for this collection?
My choice of strong and bold colors is probably linked to my personal story. As a child a medical check-up at school revealed that I am colorblind. Ironically, the doctor even said to me as a joke “Don’t worry, it is not a problem, you will just not be a fashion designer.” I see certain shades differently and this influences my choices.
This specificity is probably the reason why I choose very contrasting colors. But in a funny way for this collection, the most prominent colors are white and black. They are always the base of the color story that I build, like the frame where the colors come from.
Mixing is also part of your creative approach. Can you give us a selection of products on the Marketplace that you would find especially interesting to combine or work with in your coming collections?
Hurel – More about the product
M.I.T.I SPA – More about the product
Impresa Tessile – More about the product
LEMAR – More about the product
UTAX – More about the product
Mandarin Enterprises (International) Co., Ltd. – More about the product
Oxilla – Manifattura di Domodossola – More about the product
Frizza S.P.A. – More about the product
MACKENT GROUP – More about the product