The power of the collective is one that is totally understood in fashion; every designer is surrounded by a team who continuously bounce ideas off each other, who contribute to the drawing, draping, cutting and fitting of every garment. Houses like Margiela and Vetements thrive off the strength of the collective and consequently produce some of the most talked-about clothes in the business.
AWAYTOMARS have taken this a step further, and are currently in the process of forming the biggest design collectives ever seen. They are, in short, the world’s first ever 100% user created fashion brand.
By breaking down the perceived barriers of the industry, which is by its very nature exclusive, AWAYTOMARS incorporates and refines ideas lent by creatives world-wide. Far from being amateur, this approach ensures that the design process is socratic and inclusive, and they only produce what is truly desired.
Ideas are generated by outsourcing to the general public, allowing concept and aesthetic to take centre-stage before technicalities can be considered. Then, the community and a group of curators select the ideas they are most interested in, and the idea is taken to the next stage, which is crowd-funding. A team of experts oversee the actual making of the item, ensuring that the correct fabric is used and the garment is finished at the highest quality.
In its current state the output from AWAYTOMARS is on the safe side, there’s nothing too avant-garde and the focus is more on fabric than silhouette, but it is early days and since this is consumer driven it must be exactly what the consumer wants, risk-free, demure yet beautiful clothes. It’ll be interesting to see how they manage if and when the designs do become more adventurous, particularly if technical processes like embroidery are required.
The community is involved in every step of the way – it is a truly democratic way of making great fashion and has multiple benefits. First and foremost it means that everyone is given equal opportunity to express themselves; you don’t have to be a professional to be involved, you don’t even necessarily need perfect drawing skills, after all it is the idea which is paramount. It opens up the industry to anyone in a way that traditional fashion career paths often can’t: there are no boundaries in gender, race, age, ability or wealth. As long as you have the passion and that all important idea here your voice can be heard.
This all comes coincidently at a crucial time when there is a lot of conversation about fashion education and how it can realistically continue when fees are on the up. Online courses are popping up all over the place – although the jury’s still out on whether a practical subject can really be taught digitally – and now with AWAYTOMARS maybe you don’t even need a fashion education to flourish. This all remains to be seen, and it’ll be a good few years before it is established how much longevity this method can have, but nonetheless it has broadened the debate out even further, and giving people options can’t be a bad thing.
By placing orders at wholesale prices, only that which has been pre-paid for will be made, which has economic and environmental advantages as there is no build up of unwanted stock to go to waste. Fashion has hugely detrimental environmental effects, in pure numbers it is second only to the oil industry in its pollution. A huge part of the problem – although by no means the only issue – is the waste factor; so many garments are made each year that the majority of them don’t even get sold let alone worn, and those which are purchased are often discarded when they lose their appeal or are damaged. By limiting the number of garments actually produced AWAYTOMARS are going to be able to actively control how much is being thrown away, which we think is an amazing step in the right direction and should be adopted by more companies. Since the whole ethos of the start-up is one which gravitates around democracy, only producing a small number of clothes is also going to lend the brand a tiny dose of exclusivity – just enough to keep them relevent but without being contradictory.
In October, AWAYTOMARS will show their second full collection, which is being made with the multi-disciplinary talents of over 500 contributors. They have also created an incredible seven minute film consisting of some truly stunning shots of rugged Icelandic landscapes and garments, worn by Cris Hermmann, inspired by raw elements – which in a sense is exactly what the brand is all about. Directed by Cristina Strewicik and Gleeson Paulino and produced by Planalto , the film was the clincher in convincing us that this was something far more extraordinary than just an amateur start-up, for the quality is undeniable: the footage is earthy and futuristic and unbelievably crisp, and also features some spine-tingling sounds from Soup.
So, if you’re a fledgling designer, would like to support a worthy project or even just want a daily dose of Instagram inspo, you’ve found where you belong in AWAYTOMARS, and we have no doubt that we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.