Pleun Pijnenburg is an upcoming sustainable fashion designer and artist, based in Utrecht. I first met Pleun at a conscious fashion event by Pause Pop-up in Amsterdam. I learnt then that she was involved with last year’s edition of Fair Fashion Festival, where she presented her line of sustainable clothes. Her inspiring practice is something to learn from, so I decided to interview her to get a bit more insight.
What are your goals as a sustainable fashion designer?
Pleun: “I’m not sure if I really have a goal as a sustainable fashion designer other than making beautiful products and enjoying the process of making it. Of course it would be amazing if people got more conscious by experiencing your creations. For me there is no other option than to think in detail about every aspect when making a product. I would not be honest to myself if I didn’t. But of course I’m a lucky woman, having the wealth to even think about making sustainable choices”.
What was your experience with last year’s Fair Fashion Festival?
Pleun: “The Fair Fashion Festival is a beautiful initiative. I contacted the organizing team when I saw that they needed volunteers. After helping for some weeks I ended up showing my own designs during the fashion show. For a beginning designer, having taught myself pretty much everything I know about making clothes, it was a really incredible experience to show my own designs between some beautiful established labels. I think at the time it was maybe a little bit too early to really get something bigger out of it, at that time I didn’t even have a decent website or logo, but the reactions were amazing. It even made me feel a bit uneasy when people came up to me to say that they loved my designs, finding them very outspoken, standing out in the show. It definitely gave me a confidence boost, but it also made me cringe a bit when I heard the question ‘where can I buy your clothes?’ . I consider myself still quite shy to be or think in a commercial way, but I realised that from then on that would be an important aspect to consider”.
How did you decide to make sustainable fashionable clothes?
Pleun: “I love creating, creating from zero especially. I think a product becomes more special and valuable if you know who made it and every step of how it was made. Moreover if it was made in a sustainable way, the product becomes much more vibrant and alive. Therefore the owner will be more careful about it. I love fabric and when I’m working with it I don’t realise time passing. I get into this kind of trance feeling when I’m painting or drawing. I feel so happy doing it, it just feels right. So basically it started doing what I like, and luckily, as a fashion designer I am able to integrate many different crafts to finally decide on the fabric and the design”.
How do you work? What fabrics do you use?
Pleun: “Right now I mostly work with second hand fabric. I love how the fabric already tells a story and it inspires me. It has often been the fabric first, then the design. There is so much beautiful fabric left unused and I think just throwing things away is very disrespectful. Therefore the idea of slow fashion is really appealing to me. I dislike the fast fashion industries that are telling people to constantly change their wardrobe to keep up with the trends. I try not to be influenced by fashion seasons too much, and to be honest I never really know the newest trends. The clothes I design are just a direct translation of what I think is beautiful, and will still think is beautiful in years to come. I hope to encourage other people to think in that way as well.
I hope the whole fashion industry will be more sustainable soon and that we will actually use everything we produce. A more egocentric self would dictate me to design the fabric as well, but for now I feel a bit bad if I do, because there’s still so much fabric to be saved from going to the garbage. Some of the clothes I made used to be bedding, curtains, other clothes, found second hand fabric or table cloth”.
Where do you make the clothes?
Pleun: “After the Fair Fashion Festival I started figuring out how to actually make money, being honest with what I do and who I am. So up until now I have only had my little room to sleep, eat and work. But it has not been a problem so far. I love being surrounded by fabric, paint, floor covered in creative chaos, singing with the sound of my sewing machine. I don’t even have a mannequin, I play the mannequin myself”.
How do you think the fashion industry will change in the future?
Pleun: “There are many beautiful projects being launched and people do get more and more conscious. I really hope that the bigger labels will soon see that the only future we have is a sustainable one, but at this moment in time, there is still too much ignorance towards the human and environmental exploitation that comes with the fast fashion industry”.
What are you going to do next and where can we follow your work?
Pleun: “Coming months I’m going to focus on finding a working studio in order to have the freedom to experiment more with combining clothes making and painting. I’m going to set up a webshop and hopefully produce on a bit bigger scale. I hope to be able to work on commission more. I’m going to do some courses to learn more about using natural pigments to colour the fabrics and different workshops that would enrich my practice”.
You can find Pleun’s work at:
or her clothing line facebook page:
Door: Alexandra Dragne