The power of High Fashion has led us to believe in fairytales. Today there are 40 million garment factory workers worldwide. Their existence is seen as taboo, and their identity undisclosed. These unidentifed garment workers are however, the craftsmen of the 21st century. They have acquired the manufacturing skills to produce clothes from High-street to High-end items.
ABOUT A WORKER is a fashion brand giving garment workers from around the world the opportunity to become designers, through a fashion self-expression initiation coached by visual creative thinkers. ABOUT A WORKER paves the way for a new fashion system by giving workers the chance to reveal their individual vision of the fashion industry, through clothes they will design and produce over a creative collaboration.
COLLECTION #1 // AAW X MODE ESTIME ABOUT A WORKER’s fashion collections do not proceed by seasons, but revolves around countries of production. For its frst collection, ABOUT A WORKER collaborated with MODE ESTIME, an insertion factory located in Saint-Denis (Parisian suburb), focused on helping people in social or physical dificulties to pursue their career in the clothing industry. ABOUT A WORKER specifcally collaborated with MODE ESTIME best talents: Fadila Boubekeur, Aissatou Gakou, Kira Ghoul, and Misbahou Yisouf, who happen to all come from unusual cultural and professional backgrounds which they rarely had the chance to reveal publicly.
ABOUT A WORKER believes collaborating with MODE ESTIME is an opportunity for the fashion world to discover a new kind of clothing production system from Paris; the fashion capital usually renowned for its French crafts and couture heritage.
To develop the frst collection, each worker was asked to create his/her own outft by deconstructing, reconstructing and embellishing a “Bleu de Travail” (blue polycotton overall), the traditional French symbol of the factory worker. Through this 6 months process, workers gained strong knowledge of fashion design by taking part in a “self-expression initiation”, supported by ABOUT A WORKER. The initiation respected a classic way of creating a collection: from a moodboard to an end product. However, workers were required to get inspired by their working realities and not by aesthetical fascinations, as designers usually do.
SAINT DENIS COLLECTION 2017-2018
INTERVIEW WITH KIM HOU Founder + Creative Director of ABOUT A WORKER
1) ABOUT A WORKER is more than a new fashion brand. What is the main goal of you project?
We want to encourage new production systems in the fashion industry: more sustainable and people-oriented than the one we are currently stuck with. I believe High Fashion is the most attractive but contradictory industry nowadays. Consumers are seduced by advertising scenarios blurring the line between the real and the unreal. But what happens behind the scene should be questioned more seriously. Overall, we want to disrupt and unveil the reality behind the glamour that surrounds the fashion industry.
2) Why did you decide to start your frst collection in France?
It was important to start a frst collaboration in a fashion capital to get acknowledged by the fashion elite. Paris is internationally considered as the couture embassy and has been admired for its tradition of French craft and refned lifestyle for centuries. By collaborating with Mode Estime, an insertion factory producing clothes for young designers and promotional items for bigger businesses, ABOUT A WORKER revealed a more modern side of the french production industry. On the other hand, Mode Estime happened to hire workers all coming from different part of the world. In a time when cultural and social class differences is getting progressively divided, I wanted to give a voice to immigrants who aren’t always listened in the country they live in.
3) What was the main challenge during your collaboration at Mode Estime?
Making workers understand their potential as designers was not an easy step. They have unique visions and life experiences today’s middle class designers can’t carry, which give them capacities to display and question our current system in the most trustworthy manner. However, they do not have the artistic confdence a designer has. It was important to constantly encourage them to believe in their visual identities and to show them that their unheard story should be communicated even if they are not always beautiful and dreamy.
4) What has resonated the most with the workers?
It was the frst time they felt listened without feeling shameful of their social background. Over their years living in France, they have been confronted to racism and ignorance which is often self-degrading. This collaboration hasn’t only been an eye opening to the creative world, but has also re-boosted their egos. It has proved them through design and self-expression that they have the talent to go further in their career. Some of the workers are already thinking to develop their own business, or fnd new interesting practice opportunities. One of ABOUT A WORKER’s goal, is to continue supporting workers career possibilities, even after fnishing a collaboration.
5) Is there a story that touched you in particular during this frst collaboration?
Each story from the workers was noteworthy. Anyhow, Misbahou’s seems to have the most striking one. Coming from Comoros Island, Misbahou used to work in the army and lost a leg at war. He then escaped to France to start a safer life, but could only bring two out of his three young children. Living in France as an handicaped refugee, he started working at Mode Estime and discovered a new passion for couture making, which continues today to keep him away from his depression. Misbahou wants to acquire a couture diploma which will help him to go further in the couture world.
6) What is ABOUT A WORKER’s future?
ABOUT A WORKER’s near future is to continue collaborating with workers from different countries to have a spectrum of opinions on our current industry. We are especially interested to collaborate with workers from emergent countries, victims of the contemporary fashion system. Overtime, ABOUT A WORKER wants to grow into a political and cultural platform promoting and debating on new sustainable and ethical strategies.
ABOUT A WORKER: CONTACT US IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO : WORK WITH US // PROMOTE US // HELP US // HIRE A WORKER // SEND US PRESENTS or SAY HELLO ! www.aboutaworker.com email@example.com