FashionClash Maastricht is on the of the most innovative, and necessary, independent fashion events in the world. This year, they celebrated their wildly successful 7th edition and they reached their crowdfunding goal to continue growing. And last month, they were also in Chengdu (China) to present an exhibition of the latest new talent to come out of Maastricht.


Branko Popovic, Nawie Kuiper & Laurens Hamacher

The team, Nawie, Lauren and Branko, have turned Maastricht into a destination in the European world of fashion, and they turned FashionClash into one of the more important events in the agendas of those, like us, who can’t wait to see what’s new and what’s fresh, away from the massively commercial fashion weeks.

So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins went to FashionClash for the second consecutive year in June (you can read our article here) and we were fascinated by the different ideas the participants had come up with, and with all of the other pleasant surprises seemingly designed for those who defend fashion as a form of self expression.

On their return from Chengdu, we talked with Branko about how they got their start, where they are now and what we can expect in the future.


Flora Miranda @ FashionClash 2015
SO CATCHY!: Congratulations on your latest edition of FASHIONCLASH Festival. Can you tell us a bit about how FASHIONCLASH Festival 2015 went?

BRANKO POPOVIC: Looking back to 7 editions this was the best edition. But in a way this makes sense, we try to improve each year. We strive to grow in quality not in quantity. For the 2015 edition we have given more attention to develop the program in town and this has contributed to more synergy within the festival programme. When we start to develop the festival we start with high ambition and dreams. In the process our biggest enemy is the budget. Looking from the point of the content and limited budgets we have to work with we are very satisfied with how 2015 edition went. Let’s not forget to mention that the numerous positive feedback from our participants means a lot to us.

SC!: What do you think were some of the success stories from this latest edition?

BP: We are proud of all our designers but let’s mention a few highlights. Firstly, the award winners, Lautaro Amadeo Tambutto, Paula Reichert and Patrick de Padua.

Furthermore, Ebby Port has been selected to represent us at FashionPhilosophy Fashion Week Poland, Carlotaoms was selected by ModaLisboa, Flora Miranda is going to Serbia Fashion Week and Joelle Boers is showing in Bratislava.

The 2015 generation from the MAFAD academy was very strong, we are proud to have been a stage for them.

Performances where well received; The Mutants by Lotte Milder, Daan Couzijn, Nina Willems Verweven installation, Tabula Rasa performance.

The fashion show moment during the presentation of Hermione Flynn with the stunning beauty, transgender model Gia.


Gia Bab @ FashionClash 2015


Lautaro Amadeo winner of FashionClash 2015
SC!: Tell us a bit about the history behind FASHIONCLASH, how did the idea come up and how did you find the resources to turn it into a reality?

BP: The whole idea started in 2006 when Nawie and I took part (as designers) at a developing project in Brazil. We worked together for the first time and have been inseparable since then. Following the project, we organized an exhibition ‘FASHIONCLASH Brazil’. This inspired us to organize events, and we did various projects, mainly with the aim of having a stage for our own work and some friends. But we always talked about how great it would be to organize a fashion event in Maastricht. However, we never wanted to organize another ‘fashion week’ but something new that would rather question the fashion system, innovate and use fashion to connect disciplines, cultures and a broad audience. The question that drives us is, ‘How can we support and develop the fashion industry to contribute to a better life.’ To create an accessible event, for both the designers and the audience.

We saw potential in the city. So we just did it, no endless talking and plans, we just started acting and working. We called the organization ‘FASHIONCLASH foundation’ and the event ‘FASHIONCLASH Maastricht’, in 2014 we changed it to FASHIONCLASH Festival and introduced themes to create more context.

We where very naïve and ambitious (we still are) but we managed to organize the first edition. But we did not want to be a one trick pony and agreed to organize one more edition. The second edition was a great success, more than 100 participants from 11 countries. In the years that followed, we grew step by step and developed the concept of ‘clash with fashion’ further.


SC!: How did the three founding members of FashionClash meet?  In what fields do you work apart from the organisation of FashionClash?

BP: Nawie and I went to same high school, later we met again at the MAFAD academy. Nawie and I studied fashion design. I graduated in 2005 and Nawie in 2006, in the year when we took part in the project in Brazil. Since then we are colleagues and best friends.

Laurens is a product designer, Nawie and Laurens have been a couple for a while now. Laurens has been involved in the team since the beginning but initially Nawie and I founded FASHIONCLASH with Els Petit. She moved to Amsterdam and due to other work had less time for FASHIONCLASH so Laurens replaced her.

Until recently, all three of us were also managing our own brands, and I still do. Nawie and I also presented collections at the festival. At the moment, we are mostly devoted to FASHIONCLASH and the new projects around ‘Fashion Maastricht’ of Maastricht. I do some additional projects in fashion and theatre, teaching and I’m a blogger.

SC!: Can you give us any hints of what’s coming in the 2016 edition?

BP: Well, first of all, the theme is Heritage. For the rest, very hard to tell now, everything is in development.

We have changed our date from the beginning of June to the first weekend of July. We are looking for locations to host special performances during the festival, but we are also working on projects throughout the year, such as a winter edition and a big ‘fashion film’ project.


SC!: We’d like to congratulate you as well for achieving your crowdfunding goal. Did it come as a surprise?  How are you planning on using the funds you’ve raised?

BP: We are going to invest in technique so that we can organize more events throughout the year. We will already organize a small exhibition in November and another event in December.

SC!: At the end of September, you were in the city of Chengdu, China, with a FASHIONCLASH exhibition as a part of Dutch Days.  What was the exhibition like and how, and why, did you choose Chengdu?

BP:Maastricht and Chengdu are sister cities and this year, during the Dutch Days, Maastricht Days were organized. Because Maastricht aims to support and stimulate ‘fashion’, the city invited us to curate an exhibition. We organized an exhibition called ‘Fashion Maastricht’:


Fashion Maastricht: An exhibition curated by FASHIONCLASH

This multidisciplinary exhibition represents the quality of craftsmanship and a broad spectrum of fashion design aesthetics of talented designers who are linked to Maastricht by origin or education. The presented work stands out for its textile and material research, innovative tailoring or the conceptual approach. This exhibition gives a glimpse of authentic ideas offered by a new generation of visionaries that are shaping the new history of Maastricht, a city with a long tradition of arts and crafts and known for its sense of style, quality of life and dynamic cultural scene.
Most of the featured designers are alumni of MAFAD, the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design. Among them you can see pieces of the 2015 fashion design graduates, a group of promising designers who present themselves under the name of ‘About 11’.

In addition to the exhibited fashion designs video’s are on display showing highlights of the 7th edition of FASHIONCLASH Festival – The Gender edition – including the performance ‘ Tabula Rasa ‘ , developed by FASHIONCLASH in cooperation with dance company Project Sally Maastricht and designer Mieke Kockelkorn with the aim to provide the awareness of – and transcend conservative gender roles in our society. Tabula Rasa is a message of freedom. The theme of gender is also expressed in the performance, ‘The mutants’, by Lotte Milder, a student at the famous Maastricht Theatre Academy.

The surprising clash of fashion and textile design, video and performance offers an impression of the unique interdisciplinary approach of FASHIONCLASH.

SC!: Have you thought about organising FASHIONCLASH events in other cities around Europe?

BP: Yes, we are open for invitations 🙂

We are now doing occasional events abroad but rather smaller events.

Of course, the question is budget but everything is possible. And we are dreamers.

SC!: What’s your next challenge going to be?

BP: Next challenge is, firstly, the 8th edition. Secondly, the ‘Fashion House’ Project in collaboration with the city. An old factory will be renovated by interior designers and fashion players. The idea is that we create a hub, an incubator where our office will also be.

And we have to think ahead, because when you have to apply for government funding it requires you to think ahead. In 2016 we have to present plans for 4 years. ..many things to do in near future.

Images courtesy of FashionClash and Anabel Cuervas & Ela Colak for So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins

Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla