Titled If we were made of meat, Voortmans' nineteen-look saga comments on the prevalent issue of animal agriculture in the fashion industry – it has been estimated that over two billion animals are used every year in the fur, leather and wool industries. “I had this image of businesswomen being wholly covered with snakeskin, deconstructed skirts, skin falling off, animals dipped in petrol, spiked suits… It is like a whole metaphor of stuffing the animals, putting them on ourselves and becoming the meat of tomorrow,” the designer says of the collection he designed and realised by himself (and with a little help from his father).
Voortmans belongs to a group of young creatives who debunk the traditional route to establishing their namesake labels and negate professional titles altogether, opting in to be multi-hyphenates. “I don't want my brand to be just a series of collections,” he says. “Fashion is a tool for me to express what I want,” and so is performance.
Over the last year, intending to “transcend the locked experience of boredom” – and jazz up the lockdown DJ sets we have become accustomed to – Voortmans, alongside his DJ friend Dana Montana, has staged a number of live-streamed street performances that have amassed over 230,000 viewers. “We have had fascinating interactions with people in the street looking, staring and even screaming at us. Still, it was fun because we were doing more than just sitting at home,” Voortmans says. “I don't want to stick to just fashion. I want to explore the world of performance thoroughly,” he adds.
After launching his delightfully grotesque collection video, Voortmans chats with us about his debut collection, trial and error, the irrelevance of labels and all the good things persevering through rejection can bring.