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Marketplace: Helene Stahl Holm

Market Place: Helene Stahl Holm

Helene Stahl Holm started her slow fashion brand around a year ago and has gone from strength to strength. She creates her collections with deadstock fabric which allows her the creative freedom of Fashion Design without creating more textiles.

We talk about the stress on commercial designers, making clothes to love and how to be a more conscious consumer.

My name is Helene Stahl Holm, I am the designer and founder of @helenestahlholm which is placed in Copenhagen, Denmark.

What is Helene Stahl Holm and how are you sustainable?

HELENE STAHL HOLM is a new sustainable womenswear brand which focusses on expression, design and beautiful fabrics. At Helene Stahl Holm I only use carefully selected deadstock fabrics. In this way, I create clothes without actually adding more stuff to the world. This also means that there can only be so many of each as the fabric allows. Some will exist in 15 copies, others only a few.

With a slow fashion approach, I don’t follow the typical seasonal production. I develop new designs that are intuitively added to my ongoing collection. Instead of deadlines, inspiration and the creative process set the pace of the development. As a rule, no style falls out of collection as the production starts when the costumer places the order. And all fabrication is placed in Denmark in my own little studio.

What inspires you both creatively and to be sustainable?

I get very inspired by the fabrics I find. I love finding fabrics that you usually would use for something else than clothes and then use that as my advantage and create beautiful shapes you couldn’t create with regular fabrics. It’s my passion to hunt for these treasures of great fabrics and I love that I can create beautiful silhouettes of a fabric roll which has been lying on a shelf, some for more than 40 years. I don’t add more to the world, I use what is already there and create beautiful shapes out of them. To me that is sustainable. And to see the costumers fall in love with them is the best of it!

My inspiration also comes a lot from classical clothing pieces, and very often from the masculine suit. I love picking out little details here and there from the suit and morph them around a bit in proportions and then use those in my designs. I love the meeting of the masculine and the feminine, for instance the large cuffs I use on my jackets which are very masculine but then having the high slit from it which opens up to the very feminine wrist.

What is the importance of small designers in the fashion industry?

The strength that I as a small designer has is that I don’t have to follow orders from a financial chief who needs to make as much money as possible. I am in charge and I decide what is important - the creative process for instance. I started out my career as a designer at a very commercial place. After only 8 months I got sick from stress and had to stay in bed to rest for about 6 months. I got sick from the extremely high pace, the values in the company which completely conflicted with my own and the fact that the designers where seen as robots who had to come up with new, fantastic ideas everyday. Many times of the day without being given time for actual experimenting and playing which in my opinion is required to create the unforeseen, beautiful ideas. The designers need the power back to create clothes which offers the costumers that something extra and not just another dress with flounces which we have seen a thousand times before. I didn’t become a fashion designer just to copy others. I became a fashion designer because it’s what I have always wanted and worked towards. I live to create beautiful, innovative clothes which will last many years because the consumer loves it and cares for it.

How can we be more sustainable consumers?

Consumers have in too many years been lead to think that you can buy a dress for close to nothing and a t-shirt even cheaper. It is such a shame because really, if clothes were made in places where salaries were fair, no child labour were used and so on, consumers would be used to paying the fair price for clothes. The clothes would be made with quality and therefore last for many years making the consumers buy clothes less often. Sustainable clothes are expensive compared to fast fashion, but really, I think it’s a fair price considering the amount of people who have been working on each piece in how much time. If you start to think about what academics salaries are, you wouldn’t even question the price. We have been lead to think that clothes aren’t made by actual human beings with educations and who needs fair living conditions just like everybody else.

It is our responsibility as fashion designers and people who work in the industry to help the consumers to understand these issues and how to care for their more expensive clothes so they last the time they were meant to.

What do you think is holding the industry back from embracing sustainability on a larger scale?

In my opinion and from what I have seen, the industry couldn’t care less about sustainability. The only reason you see companies like H&M develop their so called “Conscious Collection” is because they see that the money is moving in that direction. Those types of fashion companies are built to produce too much, too often and make extreme amounts of money on it. To make them sustainable, you would have to completely change the fundament and make it a rental wardrobe instead or at least limit themselves to 2-4 collections a year instead of new collections every 14th day.

Where can we find Helene Stahl Holm and what's next for you?

HELENE STAHL HOLM can be found on Instagram and on my new webshop I am right now working to come out in a couple of shops in Denmark and being open to abroad as well. I have been working on my little baby of a company for about a year, so a lot has happened but a lot is also to come which is only exciting!!

Luckily so many consumers are already changing their shopping habits making it possible for a brand like mine to get started and I couldn’t be more happy about that!! Next up is a competition I have been nominated for, called Design Talent 2019, which is a part of the Danish Entrepreneurship Awards taking place 21st November. That is also very exciting!