Zero Waste Fashion : Interview with Barbara Munsel

Barbara's favorite Kimono Jacket of the Wintercollection 2014-2015!
Barbara’s favorite Kimono Jacket from the Winter Collection 2014-2015

A Designer with a beautiful Heart

As an (not so secret anymore) admirer of Barbara Munsels work, I see it as my duty to spread her Fashionlove with you! 

 Barbara Munsel does – as a winner of the Ethical Fashion Award in 2011 – a very good job presenting an ethical fashion line by using the zero-waste method. This method implies the use of reclaimed fabrics in her collections as well as high-end, prêt-á-porter end of roll fabrics.  She also incorporates antique and reclaimed fabrics and ecological materials such as natural and organic fabrics which she hand prints with water-based inks on a regular basis.

What are you -as a designer- the most proud of?

People wearing my designs – boutiques buying my collection – to be asked for interviews 🙂

What is your personal definition of fair clothing? Where lies your accent?

Paying a fair wage to the actual producers and giving the customers honest information about the production of their clothes.

Which should be -in your opinion- the key ingredients for any designer when making an ethical fashion line?

The key concepts in thinking about ethical fashion should definitely be: Non-selfish – transparant – awareness of waste – collaborate – respecting people and nature.

How did you personally become fascinated by ethical fashion?                          

Starting as a designer with no budget and producing a collection from scratch yourself, you quickly understand what ethical means…It’s really labor-intensive to make a fine collection and it’s in my opinion not quite possible to do that kind of work in a bad working environment.

For those reasons, I will never allow my clothing to be produced in sweatshops, neither by children or by adults underpaid.

Where does the clothing production take place?

My production takes place in Portugal and in the Netherlands.

The zero-waste method means -among other- working with fabrics-leftovers, where do you find them? 

The northern part of Portugal was once a flourishing industrial area of textile production. Luckily there are still great producers left, like weaving companies and knit manufacturers who still have the most beautiful stock.

How did you find your manufacturers?

I have been introduced to my clothing manufacturer in Portugal by my Fashion Agent in Belgium (Garderobe+) so I immediately had decent background information and it felt as a good connection as well. It’s important to have a trustworthy network. And it’s also important to nurture the connection that you have with the people where you work with, for example: I visit the factory three times a year.

The use of the fabrics are clearly very important for your work. How do you start your designproces?

I start with the materials first, for practical matters.  The theme of a collection then evolves during the creative process.

What is your opinion about the fashion industry as it is today?        

Actually I am mostly frustrated about the industry.

About the clothing industry: I do find that there should be a lot more pressure on the big brands who produce in countries with cheap labour.

About the fashion scene: There should be more attention for small talented designers instead of constantly mentioning and favouring the same familiar names all over again.

Do you still feel the same frustration as a couple of years ago, when you started your career? Have there been any changes in mentality?

Unfortunately I still feel the same frustration and even a bit more now because I hoped for so much more awareness by now. The bad practices are happening a tiny bit less than it used to be but there is still sooo much work that has to be done. And I really do think that the big players -who are big influencers- have to do a much bigger effort! It should be more common that there are regular check-ups on the ground.

Let’s focus on a good example in the industry : your great winter collection! Where did you find the inspiration?

In my mind! I have a whole compilation of things where I have once set my eyes upon. Usually, I get inspired while travelling or just walking down the street and being around people. My antenna then start working and together with the fabrics: a collection pops out!

Which piece of it do u love the most and why?                                                    

The kimono jacket made of cupro, made out of cellulose fibre with the touch of silk (Picture above). Because it’s easy to combine, you can wear it casual but also dressed and it’s a jacket during the summer and a vest during the winter.

I, for one, am totally in love with the wine red silk dress, can you tell me something about the journey of that dress? (dress on the picture beneath)

I discovered this wine red fabric at a warehouse of a Portuguese textile manufacturer. At the moment I touched the cupro, I was sold. The fabric is so beautiful by itself that you don’t need complicated designs or shapes. You just need a timeless classic design like a t-shirt dress, develop a construction for woven fabric et voila: you have a t-shirt dress in a unexpected heavenly fabric. A classic comfortable piece with a twist.


I will dear Barbara, I will. Thank u so much for the interview!

You can buy Barbara in Belgium at Today is a good day in Antwerp & Ghent and at My Closet at Sint-Niklaas

For more information about Barbara, click here 

My favorite Wine Red T-shirt Dress
My favorite Wine Red T-shirt Dress

wintercollectie-2014-Nin-141-coat 21034 wintercollectie-2014-Nin-100 Barbara coat wintercollectie-2014-Barbara 2          A couple shots out of The Winter Collection 2014-2015

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