For its 4th edition, the Belgian Fashion Awards celebrated the movers and shakers of Belgian fashion in Antwerp during a one-day Fashion Talks event, which culminated in an awards ceremony.
Organized by the Flanders District of Creativity (Flanders DC), the event is part of the non-profit organization's aim to serve as a springboard for entrepreneurs in the creative industries in Flanders. In this context, Flanders DC has united its forces with Design Flanders and the Flanders Fashion Institute to support designers and entrepreneurs in growing their businesses even further.
Flanders DC offered a multifaceted program consisting of both on-stage panel talks and off-stage cultural activities, which put the spotlight on Belgian design heritage, contemporary creativity and highlighted the luxury industry's ongoing challenges and need to renew itself.
"Fashion changes every year, but the fashion industry as a business has been trying to remain the same for decades," stated Pascal Cools, Flanders DC's Managing Director, during the ceremony. "The business model of the fashion industry needs to get an update. We, as an industry, need to work on sustainability and embrace technology to improve the way we do fashion."
In this sense, panel talks offered new perspectives on trending luxury industry topics. Amongst them, a debate took place on cultural credibility and how it resonates with today's luxury brands and their new-gen customers. The talk was moderated by Higsnobiety's Editor-at-Large Christopher Morency, who was joined by Glenn Martens, Y/Project's Creative Director, as well as by Stavros Karelis, the founder of London's edgy luxury boutique MACHINE-A, and Leila Fataar from the London-based multidisciplinary creative agency Platform13.
Raf Simons closed the Fashion Talks session in conversation with journalist Alexander Fury. This final talk offered an engaging perspective on the state of today's fashion industry from the designer's critical point of view. Other notable presentations focused on sustainable entrepreneurship – namely Close The Loop, an initiative by Flanders DC to guide fashion companies towards more sustainable entrepreneurship – as well as on 2020 trends to watch and upcoming cultural shifts.
In the evening, the Belgian Fashion Awards celebrated the heritage and ongoing international impact of Belgian fashion with several prize categories. The Jury Prize was awarded to Dirk Van Saene, and highlighted Van Saene's contribution to the Antwerp Six – a milestone of Belgian fashion history – as well as his commitment as a teacher at the Antwerp Fashion Academy. The Designer of the Year Award was given to Christian Wijnants for the notable positive growth of his namesake brand, while the Emerging Talent of the Year award was given to the menswear label Namacheko. The latter was founded by Antwerp-based Iraqi designer-duo Dilan and Lezar Lurr. The designers were both lauded for the rapid international growth of their brand since its inception. Further awards included Professional of the Year, which was given to photographer Pierre Debusschere, Entrepreneur of the Year, which was given to Sofie D'Hoore and Chantal Spaas, and the Fashion Brand of the Year award, which went to the Belgian brand Arte.