Tafel op 2!

Unravelau as a guest at talkshow "Tafel op 2"

By Kijk Almere on December 19, 2020

De Tafel Op Twee, a Dutch talk show, hosted Laura Meijering, the founder and creative director of Unravelau, to have a conversation about how sustainable they are as residents of the city of Almere. She was also joined by Jim Bisschop, the founder of Upzwam, an exotic mushroom business, Anneke Geraards from Brouwerij Stijl, and the stand-up comedian Arie Koomen. Below is a summarized transcription of their conversation.

Interviewer(Pascal Fredrik):You’ve brought nice things with you, Laura. What exactly do you do?

Laura : The concept behind Unravelau is to “unravel” the fashion industry, keeping only the good parts. The unraveling is done literally, in the style of the garments, and symbolically, in how we operate as a brand. With my creations, I use only natural or recycled materials. For example, with this jacket, I used old denim jeans from the Upcycle Centre to make something new. And with the leftovers from that project, I made these shoes. And from the smallest leftover threads, I embellished this jacket. Every part of the textile can be reused. 

Arie Koomen: What are upcycled materials?

Laura: Upcycled materials are materials that, for example, used to belong to other people or have had another life and now are being used for a second time, adding more value to the item.

Arie Koomen: I’m wearing denim jeans and an organic cotton sweater. Would you be able to make something out of it if I’d throw it away? Usually, when I get rid of clothing, I do it at the Leger Des Heils because they have a donation container to put old clothes in.

Laura: I don’t get my textiles from the Leger des Heils, as the Upcycle Centre In Almere Haven also collects textiles. My studio is connected to the Upcycle Centre, so I have access to the textiles that come in there.

Interviewer(Pascal Fredrik) : There is a donation centre located in the Upcycle Centre, correct?

Laura: Yes that’s right! The Upcycle Centre has a donation centre with some studios connected to it, I’m using one of them. So through the donation centre, I have access to textiles.

Arie Koomen: But can you then make multiple of those jackets? The right fabrics have to be there then.

Laura: Yes that is always a little challenge, but there are so many denim jeans in there. So you can’t exactly make an identical piece, however it comes very close. 

Arie Koomen: That's nice, each piece is unique!

Interviewer(Pascal Fredrik): That's really special. Laura, the name of your brand is Unravelau, and there must be a personal meaning behind it. What is that meaning exactly?

Laura: The name Unravelau is not an existing word. I got it from the word unravel and my own name Laura because my goal is to unravel the fashion industry. That’s why it’s named Unravelau!

Interviewer(Pascal Fredrik): Why do you think it’s important to use waste materials?

Laura: Unravelau’s goal is to have a small ecological footprint. A huge problem right now is that there is too much waste in the fashion industry. Both consumers and businesses produce a large amount of wasted textiles that can perfectly be reused. At this moment, it has a negative effect on the climate and when you reuse them, you can make that negative impact lower.

Arie Koomen: A friend of mine had made decor for TomorrowLand and because there is a lot of plastic waste during the festival, I think it would be a good idea to collect them and reuse them. Nowadays you can make soccer jerseys from plastic bottles, like Nike does for the Dutch national team. We could do something similar at the Floriade. Everyone could hand in their plastic and in the end you get a t-shirt or a soccer jersey. Is that actually possible? Would you (at Laura) be able to say ‘’Oh that would be easy’’,  just hang a tag on it and sell it?

Laura: I’m not sure if I'm the right person to ask that too, because what is important for me is that a product should be biodegradable, which plastic isn’t. So I certainly don’t work with plastic and personally I don’t think you should recycle plastic for clothes, because clothes still get thrown out quick. Better to use it for something that lasts longer, maybe a couch, house insulation or a new type of concrete.

Interviewer(Pascal Fredrik): Why do you think entrepreneurs should do more with sustainability?

Laura: Why not? I don’t know why you wouldn’t do something with it. First of all, the resources of the earth aren’t endless, so we should think about different ways to make things without depleting resources. It also makes you think more creatively, by looking differently at a business model or the material that you currently use.  

Interviewer (Pascal Fredrik): How did you become so aware of this? For Jim it was his education, but what was it for you? What made you think “I am going to do things differently”?

Laura: I went to fashion school in Utrecht, and in my third year I watched a documentary called ‘’The True Cost’’. That documentary showed what the true worth of a garment is, the true price that is paid to make clothing. A lot of environmental damage, child labor, human suffering, and animal suffering goes into it. It’s so frightening to see that happening and the people who are aware of it don’t do anything about it. So I thought, this should be brought to people’s attention, and I will do that with my brand by bringing attention to it but also by offering a direct solution.   

Interviewer (Pascal Fredrik): I know that on your website you used a quote that makes people, not only the residents of Almere, but everyone, aware of the fact that if they take small steps, they are capable of inspiring others to do the same. Can you explain why that is so important to you?

Laura: A reaction I often get, when I talk about my brand and say it’s sustainable, is people saying “Well, it’s nice that you’re doing that, but it’s nothing for me”. They think they can’t become sustainable or that they can’t make a change, because they think they have to change every single thing they do. So if they were to buy sustainable clothes, they’d have to become vegan too and live in a Tiny House, which isn’t feasible. My advice is just to start with something small, adjust it,  and make yourself comfortable with it. Start with separating trash, or maybe eating less meat, or just pay attention to what you buy. Just take little steps and you will see that you’ll have a more conscious lifestyle and a less negative impact on the environment.

Interviewer (Pascal Fredrik): You said you have a booth at the Floriade event so for the other three, do you already do something with the Floriade?

Laura: I'm an entrepreneur at the Upcycle Centre in Almere Haven and on behalf of the Upcycle Centre, we would like to present our businesses at the Floriade. So stay tuned!

To watch to the full talk show in dutch, click here below