Dries Van Noten, much like fellow Belgian designer Martin Margiela, prefers to do things under the radar. So, when the respected fashion designer decides to give an interview, it's best to pay attention. Van Noten spoke with Vestoj about 'The Antwerp Six," the careful act of building his label, and not compromising creativity for cash.
The designer reveals that the Antwerp Six was created as a survival method rather than a marketing ploy. "When I started in the mid-Eighties it became clear pretty quickly that to be a Belgian fashion designer was seen as an anomaly," Van Noten tells Vestoj. "The other designers from Antwerp that I started out with, well, we realized that we wouldn’t fit easily into the system. We had to find our own way. We had no money, so working together made us stronger but forming a group was never a marketing idea. It was just that people couldn’t pronounce our names so we became ‘The Antwerp Six’. I didn’t set out to be different though, it all happened very organically."
Van Noten dives into one of the tenets of his business that has allowed him to make sure everything the label does is up to his standards. "We could have had a store in every major city in the world, but that sort of success was never for me," Van Noten says. "When we open a store I want it to be in a nice location, I want the staff to be people I like. The most important thing to me is that my work is creative. I want to put all my energy and enthusiasm into colors, fabrics – things like that. I don’t automatically think about whether it will sell well or if I’ll earn a lot of money."
The interview also gets into how Van Noten created his own path, from choosing not to design pre-collections and doing advertisements to being based in a non-major city like Antwerp and not being tied to a huge fashion conglomerate. "I want to see every yarn, every palette, every button – every element of every collection," Van Noten explains.
You can read the whole interview here.