The corona crisis creates lot’s of uncertainty in the fashion industry. The closure of stores in many countries -like Belgium- has far-reaching consequences. If there is no cash flow from the stores that pay for the brands, many brands will not be able to pay their suppliers. This particularly affects workers in the Far East, who either get fired or need to work without social distancing measures.

In this series, we ask questions to fashion entrepreneurs who are already taking an alternative approach to their productions, how COVID-19 lockdown impacts their business decisions and what they do to protect their staff and suppliers.

Classy with a hint of sassy. That's the feeling Vanessa Beniers puts into her collections. Colour, authenticity and sustainability are a central value in her collections. A big plus is that every outfit fits every situation, one outfit fits all. You can expect honest and sustainable fashion at FAM the label. Be prepared for a smile that will spontaneously appear on your face when you see the fun prints.


What does FAM the label stand for?

"FAM the label is a Belgian and sustainable fashion label. The brand stands for family and for strong women. Whoever buys from FAM becomes part of a real FAMily. The sustainability of the materials lies in the fact that we produce our basic materials viscose, lyocell and Tencel in bulk. We only print on our fabrics based on demand, according to the needs of what the stores ordered. Hence, we never overproduce any additional fabrics. Our uni-colour fabrics matching the prints,are chosen from textile surpluses of Portuguese manufacturers".

The collections of FAM can currently be found in 27 fashion stores across Flanders.

"A great performance by Vanessa after 3 years of hard work", Niki adds, because starting out in fashion is not easy.

Where do you produce your collection?

The collection is produced in a family business in Portugal.
Production is supervised by Clarisse Rocha. A good friend of Vanessa and her former cleaning lady from Portugal. Clarisse is Head of Production and manages everything in Portugal.

Does corona have an impact on production?

Because it is a small company with 5 seamstresses, the production continues during corona. The garment workers are able to work in good conditions and still have their full wages. Currently they produce the winter collection and the prototypes are ready for the summer collection of 2021. It was a conscious choice of Vanessa not to enter the rat race of the fashion industry in her personal life either. That's why she decided from the beginning to start developing collections earlier than other labels do, which definitely helps business during Corona too. The finishing touch is more efficient and there is more time for fine tuning the composition of the collections.

Does corona influence your design decisions for future collections?

No, there's not really a big impact on design decisions.

"The only change I've made is to reduce the amount of jeans fabric used for winter orders at retailers. The fabric, which had already been ordered from suppliers, will simply be used for next season."

This is how FAM makes a gesture to its shopkeepers. And by not cancelling the fabric by the manufacturers but shifting it to the next season, the supplier has also been paid correctly.

"After Corona, I'm going to help the stores that sell FAM by organising fun events where I can introduce the end customers to the FAMily and how we try to do our bit for sustainability," Vanessa tells us.

How can customers support local and fair shops?

"Conscious buying now, is the future of tomorrow"

"Conscious buying is the future. You need to know where your clothes are produced and under what circumstances."

What is your post-corona dream as a designer?

Vanessa is still full of wonder every time she sees someone wearing her collection. If we translate that, we think Vanessa still dreams of seeing a lot of women in her collection. That makes her intensely happy.

Would you like an outfit from FAM? Then take a look at the website of Harvest club in Leuven and Mieke in Ghent. They offer pass-packages in their city. They are brought on foot or by cargo bike to your doorstep. A super cool initiative!