ietStof vzw is a local Antwerp sewing atelier that focuses on working with existing materials and bringing used fabrics back into circulation. By selling these upgraded products, we also do upcycling.
We are also a social project, where young people can develop their talents and gain self-confidence while learning to sew and design. We want to make sustainable investments in people, and increase their self-care and self-esteem by focusing on talents and social competences. They can help build our operation and learn entrepreneurship.
Furthermore, we work self-sufficiently and want to invest cost-consciously.
With the help of Flanders Circular, we scaled up ietStof to a large textile workshop. We organised training courses, which were put on hold by Covid for a while. We did receive large orders from shops, for which we upcycled stock to put back on the market.
We moved to a larger building where we attracted many people, local residents, civil servants and even a TV crew with a fashion show on the site. It was a smashing start.
For the dance performance Gigue!by Fameus, we had the opportunity to make about 100 dance costumes from recycled fabrics. It was a big but very educational project for a young crowde and the interns, who largely worked on their own.
We organised several fashion shows, of which the last ReFashion fashion show took place 3 times in the Antwerp Opera. We presented a beautiful circular collection, partly made of discarded work clothes donated by the city of Antwerp. More than 40 young people cooperated on the day itself.
Through all our collaborations with schools, workshops, internships, fashion shows and extensive communication on social media, we were able to reach a lot of people and introduce young and old to the world of circularity.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
We have worked together with many organisations, schools and young people through workshops and internships and we always got positive reactions to our way of working because of the progress the young people noticed: schools and supervisors saw them flourish, become more independent... This means that our vision is working and gives us a lot of courage to continue and keep believing in our project.
Throughout this project we have had to deal with many setbacks (with the new building, administration arrears, ....), but we considered them as lessons. We learned above all that we cannot always stick to a fixed plan, and that it is important to have a good dose of flexibility, alertness and perseverance to find solutions for the unexpected.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Because of Covid, we had to take several actions to generate income. Wish-Bags are a good example of this. From all our little leftovers of fabric, we have sold wish ribbons with bags to make people dream again in these times. And wishes are a source of hope.
At the same time, we also started our project for artists. ietStof managed the overstock handbags of the label I AM. Since 2019, we experimented by letting young people paint these bags. Because of Covid, this experiment grew to 40 artists. It has become a beautiful collection, of which 60% of the sales will go to the artist themselves. #IAMARTIST
We are getting a lot of positive reactions to our project. That gives us the courage to continue and to keep believing in our case. We do realise that it will not be easy to sustain the project in the current financial situation.