A week ago the new exhibition State of Fashion; Searching for the New Luxury opened in Arnhem. The exhibition and accompanying events are entirely dedicated to a more sustainable and fair fashion system. State of Fashion is the successor to Arnhem Fashion Biennial. I'm very happy to be part of it with my work Living Colour!

The fashion and textile industry belongs to the most polluting industries of our planet. The fashion and apparel system is outdated, still operating to a 20th-century model built on exploitation of people and earth's resources, celebrating individualism, glamour and the 'star designer'. There's a continuous race to produce at even lower costs and implement more rapid life cycles, presenting disastrous consequences for society and the environment. This has to change.


How can the imaginative, seductive and innovative power of fashion play a role in making the fashion system more resilient? 

There is a need for fashion to become relevant and resilient again, and to take itself seriously, not only by producing clothes in a circular and socially responsible way, but also by using its power to envision a better world. Fashion should use its seductive power to redefine what beauty and luxury entail in the 21st century.

Searching for the New Luxury explores new definitions of luxury in response to urgent environmental and social issues: less waste and pollution, more equality, welfare and inclusiveness. 

The exhibition is built around these 8 keywords in an old industrial building, the Milkfactory in Arnhem. The large factory hall is divided into 5 main exhibition spaces. Large-scale fashion houses and designers such as G-Star RAW, H&M and Zegna will present their vision on a sustainable future alongside innovative start-ups and designers such as Bruno Pieters, Osklen, Viktor & Rolf and Iris van Herpen.


The exhibition also creates a platform for the interdisciplinary project The Future of Living Materials set up by ArtEZ Future Makers with Wageningen University & Research (WUR). The project investigates and develops new ‘living’ materials (e.g. bio-based materials, textiles from micro-organisms, etc.) for the transition to a sustainable fashion system and a circular society. Kukka is invited to participate in this research project which is very exciting since it's not always easy for designers to connect with scientists.

State of Fashion LAB section at Milkfactory Arnhem

In order to achieve a form of ‘aesthetic sustainability', the sub-project Living Colours I am working on focuses on the circular life of colour, and specifically: the possibilities of a new colour palette development by biodesign (e.g. colour of bacteria). So far we've collaborated with professors, post-doc and master students from WUR to research optimum growth conditions for our bacteria, ways to create patterns on textile and possibilities of up scaling our biodyeing process. It’s great to see that after sharing our story, more people are eager to get on board.

We present the results of our new materials research & process in the section at State of Fashion (STOF) LAB. For this new research we tested our bacterial dyeing process on many different materials, like wool, viscose, Tencel and polyester.

Living Colours by Kukka presented at State of Fashion


See the entire catalogue of the State of Fashion exhibition 2018 here, with our project on pages 206-209.

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