The Hacked project by fashion designers Alexander van Slobbe and Francisco van Benthum is a commentary on today’s fast fashion phenomenon: cheap clothes sold in a rapid succession of collections. By appropriating and upcycling the remnants from this industry of overproduction, Van Slobbe and Van Benthum transform themselves from product designers into process designers who see waste as their material. Hacked is not only a critique of the effects of the contemporary fashion industry but also an exploration of possible new roles for the fashion designer in the design and production process.
Designers Alexander van Slobbe and Francisco van Benthum have been collaborating on the project HACKED for over a year. First and foremost, HACKED represents a response to the growing power of the so-called fast fashion chains, which have reduced the position of the independent designer to that of an unpaid vendor of ideas. These chains are continually refining the current fashion system, in which the speed of production, distribution, sales, and consumption is the main objective. Fashion no longer follows the rhythm of seasons, but has become the product of mere months, or even weeks. Fashion and transience have always gone hand in hand, however they now seem to have become synonymous.
HACKED, on the other hand, aims to introduce a kind of 'slowing down', with the aim of adding value. The current runaway machine that is fashion not only wastes designers' original concepts, it also discards raw materials, resources, labour, PR campaigns, retail spaces and the awareness of value on the part of the consumer. By examining tactics of delay and implementing them into the fashion system, HACKED develops a new design strategy.
Van Slobbe and Van Benthum have infiltrated the production system and acquired the leftovers the fashion industry usually leaves behind at its production sites. These garments and parts of bags and shoes became their point of departure. By manually adding new layers to this 'prefabricated' foundation, their pieces regain the signature of the designer. Moreover, this signature results in a coherent collection that is able to achieve a price level with which the chains have been excluding their competition from the market. The mighty system has been hacked. And through its multifaceted agenda, this initiative offers a fertile base to discuss topics such as overproduction, copyright, waste, upcycling and the actual significance of clothing.
Read the HACKED Manifesto