In a ‘protest against overproduction in the fashion industry’, Polish designer Arkadius unveils a line of invisible clothes
In a press release which reads more like the manifesto of a group of political dissidents, Polish designer Arkadius (real name Arkadiusz Weremczuk) describes his second collection as “an objection to the fashion industry’s ruthlessness of pushing people to buy more and more.”
The designer goes on to express an anti-capitalist sentiment, saying that the line is “An emphatic rejection of the industry’s cruelty of using people, subjecting creative designers to an inhumane amount of work, as well as getting cheap sweatshop factories to produce more and more while spending less and less.” So, in a similar way to the weavers in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, Arkasius created a collection of clothes that are invisible.
A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Arkadius set up his own label in 1997 (while he was still studying) after being discovered by the late magazine editor Isabella Blow. His clothes went onto be worn by musicians including Björk and garnered the attention of the British Fashion Council who presented him with the New Generation Award in 2000. Recently, he’s made an anarchic comeback in fashion, debuting his first collection under a new name “P-iFashion” earlier this year.
For this campaign, Arkadius tapped Polish artist Pawel Tkaczyk based in Warsaw, who lensed a series of candid portraits of men and women wearing the designer’s invisible clothes. The problem with the current fashion system, as Tkaczyk goes on to say, is that “it’s mainly led by corporate greed and not creativity”. So if the designer is rejecting corporate greed, what is he embracing? “I was inspired by the essence of humanity,” he says, when asked what inspired the line, “And each photograph is a very powerful image taken from everyday moments of life.”
“(The fashion industry) is mainly led by corporate greed and not creativity” – Pawel Tkaczyk
When it comes to wearing the collection, you have two options: walking around in your birthday suit or, perhaps the more preferable option, reinvent your existing wardrobe and say no to the companies guilty of exploitation of labour. But you’re not totally exempt from buying the collection – limited-edition hand-drawn illustrations and photographs are available to purchase.
With Raf Simons’ surprise departure from Christian Dior still very fresh in the industry’s collective memory, this collection – and the political statement behind it – is potent in its timing. In an interview with System magazine published earlier this week, Simons speaks to fashion journalist Cathy Horyn about the breakneck pace of fashion. “When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process,” he says. “Of course, we have to push really hard. It’s not like we think the ideas and mushrooms come out of the ground.”
“The problem is when you have only one design team and six collections, there is no more thinking time,” he goes on to say. “And I don’t want to do collections where I’m not thinking.” The demand for new clothes is a pressure felt from every tier of the industry, as Arkadius suggests, from the creative directors of fashion house’s like Dior, to the factory workers making clothes for high street chains. Perhaps the designer’s invisible collection is a timely challenge to this unsustainable system?
Check out the gallery above to see the collection.