FASHION TALKS BY FLANDERS FASHION INSTITUTE
A STORY ABOUT GOOD BRANDING Writer: Stephanie Duval
Antwerp is a European fashion capital, that is an established fact. Put on the map in 1986 by the infamous designer cluster ’the Antwerp Six’, it has since confirmed its reputation as a breeding ground for avant-garde talent, by the impressive roster of designers who graduate each year from the Antwerp Academy and later go on to assume leading creative positions in the international fashion industry. But it is not just its excellent education that makes Antwerp influential.
If Antwerp is a fashionable ’brand’ today, credit for that has to go to the Flanders Fashion Institute too: the organisation subsidised by the Flemish government to promote Flemish fashion and coach its entrepreneurs. In December 2015, the FFI launched the second edition of its Fashion Talks event, to which Nilorn proudly offered its support. We sat down with Project Manager Agnes Wené for a chat about fashion, Antwerp and the importance of branding for both.
The Flanders Fashion Institute was founded nearly two decades ago, but today it is still loyal to its initial mission. »It’s important to note that our target audience is everyone who works in the fashion industry in Flanders,« says Agnes Wené. »We coach young, up-and-coming designers, but we also help mid-level and well-established companies. Anyone who has any questions about the fashion industry should feel welcome to ask us.« There are different ways in which entrepreneurs or businesses can come knocking for help. »We organise events to spread information and allow starters to
dive deep into a specific topic, but we also have a weekly consultation hour where we give one-to-one advice«, explains Agnes. The most elaborate way of supporting fashion businesses is the Flanders Fashion Fuel project: a programme that coaches and financially supports four designers over the course of two years. Connecting the dots In addition to its goal to provide support, coaching and advice to the local fashion industry, FFI also aims to inform the public about Flemish fashion: both within and outside of the Belgian borders.
»A recent example is the national campaign ’#ikkoopbelgisch’ (I buy Belgian, ed.),« says Agnes. »We started it this year, but will certainly be continuing into 2016. The goal is to make people realise what is Belgian fashion, and encourage them to buy Belgian.« The Fashion Talks event is part of the FFI’s communication strategy, too. »We organised the first edition in 2013 because we kept getting asked whether Antwerp should have its own fashion week,« explains Agnes. »We think the answer to that is ’no.’ With London, Paris, Milan and Berlin there are already too many dates on the calendar for