Danish designer Stine Sandermann has created a fashion label that keeps conscious clothing at its core, with the hope of encouraging consumers to stop and think about the wider impact of fashion production.
by Nicole Goszczynski, photos by Giang Pham | Feature photo: Sandermann’s artistic piece for the ‘ANYbody – The Body and Beyond’ exhibition
“My mother has a big influence on my work. She’s a weaver and knitter herself; she really likes her craft. One day, she took me to a local sheep-breeder, who bred his sheep for the meat, not for the wool. We picked up a few bags of the shorn wool, so I asked her, ‘What about the bags you didn’t take?’ She said, ‘If no one else will come to pick them up, he’s gonna burn the wool. It’s a coarse type of wool that can’t be used for anything.’
“I didn’t want to believe what I was hearing, so I set out to prove that wrong through my BA project. I had my own yarn spun in Denmark and I made knitted and woven pieces out of it. I was very proud of that project.”
This was the initial moment when Stine Sandermann, an upcoming Danish designer, decided to advocate for sustainability in fashion production. Only recently, in December 2016, has she established her own brand, SANDERMANN, and launched her commercial collection ‘All That Glitters is Gold’. Setting an example for her own standards, the designer used wool yarn spun in Denmark, vegetarian and cruelty-free fur, and based her work on the philosophy of ‘zero waste’.
“After my MA in Sustainable Textile Design in London, I realised that I didn’t want to go back to a conventional fashion job. I was scared at first, I didn’t want to fly over the edge. But when I have a passion for something, I just work and work and work. It doesn’t really feel like work to me though, because I have fun doing it,” she says, describing the beginning of the new chapter of her life.
We met Sandermann at the opening event for the fashion exhibition ‘ANYbody – The Body and Beyond’ in Aarhus, the purpose of which was to think beyond the limits that fashion sets on the perception of our bodies. The designer contributed a piece that, though very different in the outcome, shares the same inspiration as her commercial collection: the excess of chewing gum stuck on the streets of London.
“The issue with this is that chewing gum is a non-degradable synthetic material, so it stays wherever we spit it out. I saw how we put our mark on the city and landscape, and realised that we do that to our bodies as well. It’s more of a metaphor for how we drown our bodies in stuff such as cosmetics and clothing, as if this would lead us to a better life.”
This perception of over-consumption reminded Sandermann of Led Zeppelin’s song, ‘Stairway to Heaven’, in which he sings about a wealthy woman who thinks she can buy her way into heaven if only she has enough gold. Taken from the lyrics of the song, Sandermann decided to name her work ‘All That Glitters is Gold’.
Based on these thoughts, Sandermann has created a body consisting of a cotton base dress that has chewing gum stuck to it. The top layer of white and pink ruffles, in contrast, is mainly made of PVC. “As this work would not have to be washable or wearable because it’s more of an artistic piece, I used PVC. The company I got it from cut it off in production, so they would rather someone like me uses it. In this sense, it’s kind of sustainable. I don’t think I would ever use it for my commercial collection, though.”
For Sandermann, the ANYbody project was an opportunity to try out new things. “For my commercial collection, I had to have in mind that it needs to be saleable, but for the ANYbody project I had no limits. Before, for example, I didn’t work a lot with ruffles or this really hot pink colour. I did choose it then, because I actually heard a podcast with Ane Lynge-Jorlén on Radio 247 where they discussed the colour pink; what it represents, its historical background and how its perception has changed over time. It fit perfectly with what I wanted to communicate, so I created a showpiece that is smothered by plastic shiny pink material.”
Sandermann’s core message, both through her artistic and commercial work, is to stir people’s conscience. “I just want to make people stop and think. Be critical.”
This article was originally published on The Fashion Lens. The Fashion Lens is an online fashion magazine with a difference, which considers fashion through different lenses to represent the topic’s various dimensions – be it personal, political, economic or technological. Find out more on the website.