“ #DressYourselfie! Upgrade your Lockdown Look ” was a post that caught my attention on Linkedin. My first thoughts were that it is just another funny COVID-related gimmick, but then immediately I noticed the intriguing and high quality design of the dress, made by María Ruano.
For me, the idea was not just funny, but also brilliant because as we are working in the home-office, it appears that nobody wants to dress in the usual office clothes, but neither can you appear in your pajamas when talking with your boss.
So, the dress led us to the platform presented, Positive Fibers, and to the Founder, Marije de Roos , the Circular Fashion Detective.
“Wait, what is a circular fashion detective?”
That was also our question that I felt very eager to address to Marije, alongside the other questions about Positive Fibers, circular economy, digital fashion and so on. Marije de Roos is an economist who landed in the fashion industry while working on her first venture. She landed into entrepreneurship right out of university. The documentary “The True Cost” was a wake-up call when she realized how our clothes are made and learned about the unjust system toward both people and the environment.
Bit by bit she realized that her education needed a make-over. Driven by curiosity she picked up the book “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth about circular economics, and soon she realized that we have to change the way we live if we want to combat global warming without giving up on fashion.
“Investigating the crimes in the fashion industry”
TVA: You have an interesting “job” as Circular Fashion Detective, what is it exactly?
Marije de Roos: That’s a great question. The Circular Fashion Detective is my alter ego I’d say. My interest in the circular economy led me to investigate supply chains in the fashion industry. I like to identify the facts and follow them to their roots. Doing so, I was looking for brands that are making fashion coherent with circular economic principles. It’s my curiosity and investigative mindset that naturally led me act almost like a detective. Once in a conversation this title was coined. As I enjoy writing from time to time, I use my blog, to report on the fashion industry’s crimes and how we can improve the industry. It’s a huge challenge and all efforts count, but I noticed that a sense of thoroughness is still lacking. Being an outsider to the industry, I see things differently, and this is how I found my angle to research and write from.
(TVA: If you want to learn more about fashion investigation, you can visit Marije’s blog)
TVA: Positive Fibers is a new platform. What was the reason for starting it?
Marije de Roos: The fashion industry is one of the most damaging sectors in our global economy. Both people and planet are exploited daily, yet it does not have to stay this way.
I started Positive Fibers to put the ECO into ecommerce. Everything we consume, is made up of fibers, so what if we start with that in order to offer the cleanest ways to impeccable designs.
The big vision for Positive Fibers is to be that one place where everything produced is an absolute force for good without compromising on aesthetics. Moreover, I believe that every product we call fashion, if made with the right ingredients – with positive fibers – can help restore the environment and help reverse global warming. It may sound insane and undoable, but it’s a challenge I get up for every day.
“I am looking for avant-garde talents.”
TVA: How are you collaborating with designers and how do you select them for Positive Fibers?
Marije de Roos: We are working with emerging designers that are incredibly talented and have the same values – this is vital for us.
Currently, we work with five designers, around who we are building the so-called “The Collective”. This is a membership for designers we hire for our collections. As I’ve always loved the arts and fashion design, I use my expertise to scout these rising stars, and thanks to the virtual world we live in, I’m not constrained by any geographic borders.
I am particularly looking for avant-garde talents; the rule breakers who truly think out of the box, who are not bothered by trends, and who let their art lead the way creating extraordinary pieces.
Positive Fibers is a brand that celebrates high end design created by genuine diamonds in the rough.
“Fast fashion” is a word that I don’t even want to have in the dictionary.”
TVA: As we discussed, in the fashion industry, there are so many problems related to waste, overproduction, and so on. How do you imagine your business model for the future?
Marije de Roos: I cannot say too much about the business model yet, as it is confidential, but the objective is definitely to go to a model where we only produce on an order basis.
TVA: I also think pre-ordering will be very big, and emerging fashion designers already started to think about this and to produce based on ordered garments.
Marije de Roos: The entire system needs to slow down; we want to build the complete antidote to fast fashion. “Fast fashion” is a word that I don’t even want to have in the dictionary . This means that we have to do everything completely differently. The biggest problem with fast fashion is synthetic fibers and pre-production. These need to be canceled out. What we need in order to be able to sustain a fashion system is to turn to organic fibers and conscious production.
“ I do see our products could end up in games as well.”
TVA: Regarding digital fashion, do you think about other markets, such as the gaming industry or the XR cinematic production. Do you see some possibilities for development there?
Marije de Roos: I am not a gamer myself, but I do understand the need to dress your digital self or an avatar in gaming environments.
Digital fashion software comes from the gaming industry and remembering games as the Sims, I always did enjoy changing my characters outfits time after time. Over the last decades, the technology has become extremely refined and can therefore offer hyper realistic images. Albeit seeing the potential, the gaming industry is not our main sector of interest.
For us, it is crucial to keep the real world in mind. The virtual space is a byproduct. Of course, the reason for launching our world’s first digital fashion pop-up shop is to offer virtual entertainment in times of physical restrictions.
“it is important to feed our senses with this creativity”
TVA: It will be interesting to see how the whole fashion industry will evolve. Also, in terms of Fashion Weeks, they have a big role in the industry. I am curious about how the future of fashion weeks will look.
Marije de Roos: Only time can tell how things turn out, but what’s interesting is how the COVID pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technologies. The power of Fashion Shows is to reveal the creativity of a brand – they are a performance of art. From a human point of view, it is important to feed our senses with this creativity. However, when it comes to the whole production side, the only way is digital. This means creating fashion shows made with software only. Fashion shows will resemble game environments as these will be complete computer graphic simulations. Yet, these shows still are pollutive from the amount of energy used, but it’s a significant decrease when looking into the amount of resources consumed by physical fashion shows. Think about what it takes to host such shows? There are people flown in from all over the world, the clothes, make-up, hair products, etc. are all made from fibers. I can get very detailed here but I’ll spare you that. The point is that people know this and brands will only survive if they have customers. Hence, if customers become critical, there’s no point in doing the fashion shows because it could only lead to a backlash. Yet, if this is the final answer, I don’t know. Again, only time can tell.