MEET THE DESIGNER: HNST

HNST is a Belgium-based brand with sustainable values and a focus on putting the environment forefront without compromising on quality or design. The brand launched its first denim collection in March 2018 with 56% recycled denim fibres, which created the world’s most sustainable jeans. The brand is founded and created by Tom Duhoux, who wants to set a new standard for the fashion industry.

HNST is a great example of a brand creating change, and being an entrepreneur in a green and sustainable fashion industry. SODS is proud to represent HNST, and we had the chance to get to know the brand a little better:

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Why did you decide to join SODS?
We were very honoured when SODS approached us asking whether we wanted to be present on their platform. As we started doing what we are doing, as we wanted to do things radically different, I like the fact that SODS also wants to change the way consumers purchase fashion. It’s focus on putting the environment and sustainability at the forefront without compromising on quality or design nicely aligns with our own brand belief.

When did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer and what influenced you to pursue your dream?
As a matter of fact, I don’t have a fashion background. I’ve studied economics and I’ve always been fascinated about challenging our current way of thinking and doing. I also truly believe we cannot solve today’s problems and challenges with the same kind of thinking that created them in the first place.
The circular economy is a great framework for innovation and to rethink the way of how to design products. For the past few years I’ve been working with companies and organisations to help them find new sustainable business opportunities, inspired with the circular design thinking.

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After my partners and I decided to go our own way and stop the agency, I felt the need to step away from only giving advice and to actually making a circular designed product myself. The fashion industry was a logical sector to start with, although most of the fashion industry knows what needs to change, and not much action is really going on. Over the past 15 years, innovation in the industry can be resumed as faster, cheaper and more, much more.

Most sustainable initiatives are on the side projects while everything stays business as usual. I believe that true innovation is about a positive impact and a radically new way of thinking. At HNST, we saw huge potential for improvement in this, and together with our partners we started designing our radically different jeans.
We focused on jeans as this is the fabric product, which particularly combines all challenges in the fields of labor and environment. Think about the use of water and energy, chemical (colouring) additives and all too often appalling working conditions.

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Where do you go for inspiration when creating a new collection?
When people buy clothes, they buy what makes them feel happy when wearing it. Whether it’s comfortable, or it makes their ass look fabulous, or it helps boost their self-esteem or feel of status…..buying is something emotional.
Only making a sustainable designed collection would not be good enough. That’s why we really wanted to make a collection that is not just timeless, but also desirable with a great level of craftmanship and detail.

What is your proudest moment in your career as a fashion designer?
I’ve been lucky to have had a couple of proud moments over the last year. Probably the first proud moment was when we launched the brand, the campaign to collect old denims and the story on what we were going to do with them. In just two weeks time people dropped off more than 6000 pairs of old denim in one of our collecting bins. People contacted us to say they felt inspired and wanted to contribute.
Another proud moment was of course the moment we finally launched the end result; our first denim collection made from 56% recycled denim and designed and made according to circular design principles.

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If you didn’t become a designer, what kind of career path would you chose?
There are still so many opportunities with regards to changing existing paradigms and integrate sustainable and circular design thinking in other industries. Driven by creating a positive impact, there would be plenty of other things to do for a rebel with a cause.

Is there any fashion trends, old or new, that you would want to bin for good?Everything that fits in the ‘fast fashion’ category. We need to stop considering clothes as cheap, disposbile products. You do not need to be a visionary to realise this system is not sustainable, living on a finite planet.

If you were to collaborate with another brand, who would you want to work with and why?
I’m open to collaborating with any like-minded brand.

 

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