- 17 MAY 2023
- MIRA WANDERLUST
- Image by
OUR SHIFT is calling out the fashion industry, and unapologetically demanding brands to “F*CKING STOP BURNING CLOTHES!”
The rising star of the Nordic countries, the duo collective of artists combines design and technology for the greater good. Sustainable clothing, inspired catch-phrases, and cougar style perfectly blend in into the most exclusive design collections of 2023. Possibly one of the best upcycling brands you'll discover today. They are creating a responsible and better alternative to what exists now while building a community of fashion firefighters together with whom they can stop the burning issue of clothes landfilling and incineration.
OUR SHIFT is calling out the fashion industry, and unapologetically demanding brands to “F*CKING STOP BURNING CLOTHES!” The Copenhagen-based activist-fashion brand, created by the duo Milan and Barbora is set on tackling the problems within the clothing-lanscape, so we reached the duo for an exclusive interview for RED EYE Metazine:
Hi, welcome to RED EYE Metazine, share with us a few highlights about your background as teenagers. How did you meet each other?
Barbora: As a teenager, I was open to new things. I started exploring the world of parties, music, festivals, which I really enjoyed. I was also really into studying different languages and wanted to live and work abroad. Milan and I in fact met in the beginning of our master’s degrees at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen. We had a workshop together where we found out we are both Czech. That created a bond immediately and throughout time, we became friends and talked about our futures and realized we both wanted to change the world towards better.
Milan: Exactly as Barbora is saying, we meet at our uni. Since our first run, we knew that we would make a great and holistic team. Because our academic backgrounds complement each other well, we thought that making business would be the perfect opportunity!
When was your first approach to fashion and when OUR SHIFT was born?
Barbora: I loved dressing up since I remember. But at one point I realized the clothes I was buying were quite bad quality and that got me thinking about the whole sustainability point of fashion. We started OUR SHIFT in late 2021. It was a continuation of Milan’s master’s collection called ‘Stop F*cking Burning Clothes’. He researched how many tons of clothing end up burnt or landfilled and that was just insane to see that not much has been done about it. So we thought why not to start with this as a point of departure.
What about the meaning behind your brand name? How aware are you of the fact that you are considered to be a cool designer making art pieces using up-cycling techniques?
Barbora: There was definitely some thought process behind the name OUR SHIFT. We wanted to make people think from the get go. The SHIFT represents the shift of people’s mindset as well as the shift in the fashion industry. And they both need to happen to really create an impact.
Milan: Haha, that depends on what you define under the word cool. We as fashion activists are aware that what we can be seen as artistic and desirable, however, we do up-cycling because we strongly believe that it's needed. Since we need to raise awareness about the issues in society, it is remarkable that we have this huge fashion platform for it.
How do you approach the inspirational process when it comes to create garment?
Our inspiration comes from 3 main pillars.1 Change! (We have something that needs to be addressed (burning of clothes, people leaving their tents at festivals etc. ) 2. pillar is about my heritage (our heritage makes us unique and therefore we have unlimited sources of inspiration), 3. personal (we get inspired by people or our own stories to make it more personal). Then we choose the most fitting shapes and colours and make our own vision of the better world.
The best things are usually created when people follow their own vision rather than just pursuing success or money for its own sake. How challenging is the business part for you as a creative + sustainable brand?
Barbora: Yes, we’re totally on board with this statement. We’re both visionaries and have big plans for making the fashion world more responsible. I must say that it is quite challenging to aspire to have responsible processes at every part of production but also post-production, sales, marketing, communication etc. As we brand ourselves as responsible I feel like more eyes are on us. That’s why we also use our creativity and activism to communicate our message. As an example, we’ve just launched our upcycled collection made from tents from the Roskilde Festival (one of the biggest festivals in the Nordics). And this is a demonstration of our activism - we collected over 150 tents to reduce the textile waste and then we created raincoats, pants, tops and other clothes from them. We also see it as a fun way to communicate something this serious as unnecessary textile waste. It’s basically saying: “Hey, this used to be your tent in which you created some memories and now you can wear it!”
How can a garment be recognised as a functional one and why is this important for who is wearing it?
Clothing can be considered functional for many reasons, it varies for each customer depending on whether they are looking for active, social or casual clothing. For me personally, clothes must have a story, they must be practical, and interesting at first glance.
Can you define the term “long-lasting” in fashion? How long should last a garment?
This is again very individual and depends on whether we are talking about t-shirts or coats. But I will give an example of a "long-lasting" coat. In our family, we have had a sheep wool coat for three generations. It’s of such high quality that my grandfather, my father, and now I also wore it throughout my youth. Its design is so timeless and universal that I believe that one day I will be able to pass it on to the next generation. This is, to me, the definition of a "long-lasting" garment.
How do you face challenges in such a complex industry and how do you approach potential customers/stores?
Challenges are many in the fashion industry but we also see them as a gateway to our new solutions. We actually started OUR SHIFT because of one biggest challenge - burning of clothes.
We’re focusing on building a community here in Copenhagen but also online on our instagram. We sell at various design markets in the city, do collabs with other brands and sell through some selected designer boutiques and our newly opened showroom. On Instagram, it’s about being in touch with the customers, engaging with them and communicating the message so they can understand what’s the problem we’re solving here.
How should a person feel about wearing OUR SHIFT? How do you see the future of digital art related to fashion?
Everyone who’s wearing OUR SHIFT is an activist. Our clothes are usually statement pieces and you wanna be seen when you wear them. We see clothes as a canvas which you can communicate through. And if you have certain values, you can speak them out with your clothes.
Digital art is strongly related to fashion. We are already seeing brands designing with AI tools (we do it too). It is a great program and it would be a shame (also a bit silly) not to use it. We will see much more digital art and fashion also in average stores and places very soon.
Name us a few creatives you would like to collaborate with.
Our dream always was a collaboration with Vivienne Westwood, since she was a mother of punk and activism in fashion. However since sadly she is not in the world of living that’s not possible anymore. Patagonia is another one, and from local ones we admire Henrik Vibskov and Di(vision).
Who are your inspirational heroes when it comes to sustainability?
Indigenous peoples of North, Central, and South America, they are my (Milan's ) true sustainable heroes, since everything they ever used, created, or killed was used to the last bit. We have a lot to learn from them. There were never any leftovers, or if there were, they figured out how to use them for other things.
A letter to your future self. What would you write?
Stay true to yourself, you are a fashion activist and fashion firefighter. We need people like you to see beyond the horizons and then be able to share it with the rest and raise awareness about the issues that can be changed. Make the world a better place for living by your actions, only together we can change things. So be bold and collaborate with like-minded people. Be wise and make people Stop F*cking Burning Clothes and shout on the streets Make less(sh*t), thanks.