Hasmik Matevosyan (28) fashion researcher and designer, author of the book ‘Paradigm shift in fashion’. In 2014 she won the title of ‘Radical Innovator of the Future’ by the dutch magazine ´Vrij Nederland´. Her vision is to make the world better by improving the fashion industry. Since May 26th, 2015 she is running a crowdfunding campaign to finance an innovative fashion video-course for fashion brands to make good fashion. Contribute here, it runs till the 29th of June, 2015.

What makes your wardrobe green?
If you look at it in a traditional way, what makes it green is that most of my clothes are second hand or handmade. They are clothes that I’ve had for a long time or at least will be wearing for a long time, because they fit me perfectly and make me feel good when I wear them.

Can you tell something about your wardrobe?5598-10
It’s quite old, because I have not been shopping much in the past four years. Before that, the clothes I bought only satisfied me in a limited way; either the color or the shape  or a little detail. When I became more conscious about my choices in fashion I noticed that I’m often disappointed when I’m in the shops, because I cannot find something that really catches my eye and really takes my breath away. So I made a choice to make more of my own clothes instead of buying them.

How did you become more conscious about your clothing choices?
It started about 5 years ago. In my first year of my study Fashion Design we had to show our vision and creativity and I spent a lot of money and energy in making a clothing collection. But at the end of the year the only thing I could do with them was store them at the back of my closet or throw them away. Around that time I went to a lecture about cradle to cradle, designing without waste, and I was really fascinated by it, but I couldn’t imagine how it could work in fashion. In the second year we developed more knowledge on textiles and how harmful they are for the environment, animals and people. We got some information on alternatives and it made me very curious. That’s when I started a one year research on understanding the whole fashion chain and all the initiatives. After finishing that research I realized I just found a lot of sustainable, ethical, ecological ways of producing clothes, but fashion got lost. So that triggered me to study fashion and dig deeper into clothing psychology etcetera.

How did you conduct this research?
It started behind my computer, then I began reading books and after that I started attending conferences. There they would ask me who I was representing and I would answer: ‘Myself!’ I also interviewed professionals about sustainability. And to understand fashion better I took a closer look at society. Fashion usually reflects the society and the changes in it. So I looked into anthropology and made a timeline of literally 50 meters of 6000 years trying to get a better grasp of changing societies and how fashion would reflect the foundation of these societies. I realized that for the last 20 years fashion is not reflecting but rather copying. Later on I learned more about clothing and psychology by reading a book from the 1930s about the psychology on clothes, written by a student of Freud, John Flügel. Another important part of my research was 1,5 years of interviews with people about their needs, desires and reasons for buying clothing.

Is this part of your book? Or is this before?
All of the research led me to write the book. When I understood fashion better and the reasons why we wear clothes and how you can answer the needs and desires of people. Sustainability is about answering the needs and desires of the environment of the producers and clothing psychology is about answering the needs and desires of people who wear the clothes. Now, what if you combine these two? That’s how I came up with the design system by combining these two. Later on, I also researched business models and finance. So now I have a foundation that I want to build on, based on practice with fashion brands.

5519-8-newCan you also tell something about your own wardrobe, your closet?
Because I live in different places I actually have several wardrobes. For the past year I have been living in The Hague, Amsterdam, Cyprus, Haarlem and Alkmaar. Usually I just have a bag of clothes that I bring with me and since five months I’m borrowing clothes at the clothing library in Amsterdam (LENA). So I don’t need to have a wardrobe. I’m not so attached to wardrobes as much as I want to have clothes with me that suit my body and the occasions where I go to.

Do you keep things neat?
Well I guess it depends on who you ask but if you ask me, I’d say yes.  I mean neat in the way that I wash them. I don’t wash my clothes on a very high temperature or with a lot of detergent and I don’t tumble dry it, because I know it takes away the quality. But I don’t always keep it very tidy in a closet. Sometimes I just throw it on a chair instead of folding it up. So if you would ask my boyfriend if I ‘m tidy he would say definitely not.  A couple of weeks ago my boyfriend lifted me up and he tore my pants that I was wearing. I wasn’t very upset about it, because I had them for a very long time and got them from a friend. And he said if it would have been him he would have been really upset because he would think of the money he spent on the clothes. All I thought was: it’s time to say goodbye to those pants.

Are there clothes in your closet that you don’t wear?
Yes, I have some clothes that don’t really fit my style anymore. There’s this pink poncho that I got from a friend. I wanted to wear it today, but it doesn’t go with any of my clothes anymore. It went really well with this skirt, but that one is worn out. I also have some clothes that I only wear at home when I don’t want to dress up or think about what I want to wear.

What is your process getting dressed in the morning?
It depends on what kind of day it is. If it’s a day that I’m working from home I’ll probably just put on some sweatpants and a comfy sweater. If I have a skype appointment I’ll dress up a little and put some make up on. If I have an appointment or a lecture I try to put on something either designish or professional-looking. Because the first thing that people notice is what you are wearing; not your face, not your vision, not your intelligence, it’s your clothes. And only when you come closer, they also see your face and your hands etc.

How would you define professional?
A pair of heels, a dress or neat trousers combined with a jacket or blazer. I wouldn’t wear a sweater or shorts.5689-13

Do you have any dress rules?
I want my clothes to show my waist. I’m quite curvy and if I don’t show my waist I look like a square. Another thing I’m trying to implement is to bring more color into my wardrobe. The clothing needs to fit my body and the person I am. It has to communicate something about my personality or my background and if it’s made sustainable then that’s an extra plus.

How do you communicate your background?
Well today for example I had a couple of clothes that were made from fabrics that I got from my grandmother. Wearing these special fabrics make me feel safe, protected or loved. So I try to surround myself with these kinds of clothes, whenever I go outside.

Do you wear make up every day? Perfume?
Make-up, if somebody is going to see me, yes.
Perfume, only if I have appointments. I wear different kinds, most of them are presents. I have a jasmine perfume from Russia. Before that I also liked Chloé.

STYLE AND TASTE

5434-4Can you tell something about your style and taste?
I like feminine clothes that accentuate femininity. Even if it’s professional I still want to look feminine, I don’t want to pretend that I’m a man by power dressing. Personal, all my clothes have a certain story, they have a reason why they are in my wardrobe, for example the black dress that I made in the night before my book launch and also wore to my TEDx talk. My clothes are from everywhere, it’s a mix and match thing just like I am, I’m also a mixed person of nationalities and cultures. I think my clothes represent me.

So you seem to know what suits you, how did you learn this?
I’m not sure if I know what suits me, I choose things on intuition or when I’m making clothes I know what I want to show about my body. But whenever I’m talking to a stylist and they come up with ideas they are usually things that I wouldn’t choose myself, but when I put them on they look great. So there is still a lot to discover.

What do fashion, style and clothes mean to you?
To me fashion is what happens between me and my clothes. So how do the clothes make me feel, behave and think.  So when I’m wearing pants that are too tight, I cannot think clearly because I’m just worrying that everybody is going to see that my pants are too tight. But fashion is also what happens between you and me, because the clothes we are wearing influence our attitudes and how we communicate towards each other.
Clothes are something that can either make you or break you. It can reflect who you are and the mood or state you’re in. And it can either be rejected or accepted by people.  For example if I would be sitting here in my pajamas and you would be filming me and show that on national TV. My image would be completely broken after that. So clothes are kind of a medium to achieve fashion.
Style is the way you put together the clothes, there are lots of clothes, lots of colors and shapes. So the choices that you make to dress yourself that is your style.

Do you talk about clothes, with who?
Yes I do a lot. I’m researching clothes and how designers can improve people’s lives through designing in the right way, so clothes are very crucial in that. And how to improve the quality of life of people who wear it and the quality of life of the people who actually make it. So to both sides. I believe that clothes can do that if they are designed in the right way.

What is the right way?5610-11
The right way is the way in which the design adds as much value as possible tot the end user, the person who is going to wear it. Thought through design, but also the fabrics choices and the costs of production. For me designing in the right way is contributing to the consumers life by making the pockets deep enough, showing the waist, all these reasons. At the same time it’s about making the right decisions towards the manufacturers and the environment.

Are there things you admire about how other women present themselves?
Sometimes I see people on Facebook and I really admire their originality in assembling outfits. I also admire women that feel confident enough to show quite a lot of their body for example an open back or more of a décolleté. A lot of times there are insecurities that get in the way  of me wearing certain clothes. So I admire the women who don’t let insecurities get in the way of their clothing choices.

SHOPPING

If you could built up your wardrobe from scratch, what would you do different?
If I had the money I would definitely work with local designers to have clothes designed for me personally. I would leave the design and manufacturing to them. And I would like to have several of these pieces that I’m really in love with in my wardrobe. I also would want to have a couple of basics like black pants, a couple of shirts and a couple of jackets.  The rest I would just borrow.

How and when do you shop for clothes?
Shopping has turned into borrowing. I only do it when I give a lecture to a big audience or when I’m meeting with somebody important that I want to impress.

How many times do you borrow clothes?
I have a subscription of 100 points a month. For 100 points you can either get a dress, a skirt and shirts or a jacket. Every time you bring back what you have borrowed you get your points back so you can get something new. I could go back every day or I can choose to borrow enough for a month. I usually end up going back every two weeks.5341-2

Do you have shopping rules?
If I decide to buy something it has to fit a bunch of criteria; the fit has to be perfect, I feel good in it, the price needs to be worth it and I also want it to go with things I already own. To me even the inside should be beautiful. And if everything is right I also take a look at the production. If I find out that for making this perfect garment someone had to suffer I won’t buy it. I’m even going to write a letter to the brand. But if it’s perfectly suiting my preferences and it’s also ethically made I definitely will buy it. So for example with the Rembrandt dress that I was wearing. I know that a friend has made it, it fits my curves, it makes me look interesting when I’m giving a lecture, people have something to look at instead of just my face. And it’s also beautifully made, it’s silk and it’s digitally printed on. I’m proud to have a garment like that. On top of that I’m also willing to pay the price for it.

If you buy clothes do you think of the person that made it and it what kind of circumstances?
Yes and I think that has to do with the fact that when I was a little kid I saw my mom making clothes for other people. So this association of the person who makes clothes is very strong and that’s probably one of the reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing in my professional life which is improving the lives of people who produce clothes. But that’s secondary for me, for me the first reason why I buy something is because it makes me feel confident, beautiful, professional, attractive and not judged when I wear it.

You never get restless and just want something new, you don’t have that?
No, not at all, never had it. It’s probably because I was born and raised in Armenia until I was 13 years old. And also my mom was making a lot of clothes for me when I was a kid. This whole culture of shopping as leisure time activity didn’t exist in Armenia.

Do you have favorite shops?
I appreciate Brand Mission for the fact that they tell the stories of the clothes and I appreciate Lena because they don’t only sell clothes but you can also borrow them, so it’s a new concept. I like shopping at Nukuhiva, I like that they have a variety for men as well. I like Scotch and Soda if it comes to service, looks and layout. I don’t have favorite brands really.5803-18

So do you have tips for other women?
I would ask them to make a list of criteria for themselves and only to buy a garment if it lives up to all those criteria. And in making those rules I would suggest them to talk to a stylist who can give them tips on which shapes and fabrics work for them. And the second thing is definitely to get a subscription at Lena! They have so much choice and you can experiment with styles.

Future plans?
Based on the research that I’ve done I’m giving this groundwork away through crowd funding, I want to share these fundamentals in my video courses and book. I want to use open source collaboration with all these brands in different countries and situations to adjust the design system to different brands and to develop and further update it. It’s also meant for individual designers who handle the production of their clothing brand themselves. I want as many brands as possible to participate to see how I can adjust the system to all of them and in different situations. And not necessarily sustainable brands, because this system is supposed to make them more sustainable by preventing overproduction. When you don’t overproduce 30% of the clothes, you save a lot of resources and money and that money can be invested in improving the fashion chain and production.