Looking For Inspiration: Exploring The Future Of Fashion With Noémie Balmat
Few weeks ago I was wandering around in tech conference. What would a fashionista do there you might ask. I asked myself the same question and then I thought what the hell let’s inspect it.
To my surprise, there were speakers that were such a wonder to me. Among computers, robots and business topics, there was a small section dedicated to fashion innovation and sustainability. Whoop whoop. So can we squeeze some creative juices?
My eye was caught by new winds and ideas straight from Paris. Her name is Noémie Balmat, and together we talked about the future of fashion.
Could you tell me a little backstory about how we ended up talking here in Login?
I always wanted to work in fashion. But somehow it’s so complicated to get into the industry if you don’t have a network. My friends and classmates said I don’t have a character to work in fashion. So I did business school, I didn’t like it.
At the end of business school, I still didn’t manage to get internship into fashion companies. But somehow I got into the advertising industry. That’s how I started. But very shortly since I joined this industry I started seeing how things didn’t work well and how all the creatives were really bored, overused or not used in the right way.
That really frustrated me. At some point, I was going to work and I was just going there to see my friends, just like kids go to school. At some point I was complaining all the time and a friend of mine just told me - you’re complaining all the time, maybe you should do something about it? And then if you want to complain you can complain but now you are complaining and doing nothing.
That’s when I started to use my brain, BCS future of fashion was the main thing that frustrated me - I started a blog about fashion and technology. Shortly since I started my blog people started coming to me and asking me to do conferences. I was like “Ummm, okay, let’s do it!” I was sooo stressed and even wanted to call in sick when the time for the first one came, but I managed to do it.
What are you passionate about?
In the beginning, it was really focused on fashion and technology. And then there was a problem: if I speak about fashion and technology how do I speak about sustainability too, which was very very important to me. That’s how I decided to go from fashion and technology just about the future. In future you can put a lot of stuff, you can put fashion tech, you can also talk about sustainability, also young designers because they are also a future.
Do you do everything alone?
For one year I worked alone, doing everything by myself. After a year I saw that there was an interest so I asked people to write articles with me. And then I asked my best friend who also was interested in fashion to partner with me and to build the company.
What does your name stand for?
After he joined we changed the name to Futur 404, which was more in line what we do. The meaning is like the "Error 404 page not found", so the tagline is "Future is not found yet", we go and explore what’s not being found yet.
How do you call yourselves?
So we consider ourselves as a think tank because we are not saying we know everything about the future, but we are thinking of ways to build today for tomorrow.
Do businesses understand the importance of your work?
It’s great there is a huge interest now which wasn’t there when I started six years ago, I was like a weird clown back then and now they invite me and say you should come and speak to us.
We are located in Station F, it’s like the biggest incubator in Europe which hosts thousands of startups. It’s really well known in Paris. It’s cool because when the companies know we are there they want to come and visit. It adds some credibility.
Could you tell me more about the ideas you presented in your speech?
It’s the basic idea that we should have a system where is no waste it’s called the circular economy. When you see the nature there is no waste - a waste of someone is the raw material of someone else.
I think this is an idea that is very very interesting, instead of harming nature we should get interested in how it works. Nature is very high tech. Higher tech than us. The whole idea of circular economy is to either recycle, reuse or find a way to not have waste in the whole process.
The example I showed is that designers are going to vintage shops and remaking old clothes, but in future, there is a possibility to separate the fibres from the fabric and to be able to recycle.
If we produce in cycles we could earn even more money, reusing waste is a whole new economy.
What your main goal?
I'm working on helping people realise the power they have in their hands. Everyone knows about global warming and the problems the planet has. But everyone is thinking they can’t do anything about it. Yes, you can do something about it!
Aaand for the end, what was the message you wanted us to take from your speech?
There is a story that is really illustrative - it’s the story about animals in the forest. There are aaaall kinds of animals living there. Suddenly, the forest starts burning and it goes to a huge fire. All the animals are panicking and going around screaming “Aghhh fire fire!!”. And then you see a very little, small bird that flies over the forest and goes to the river and takes a little amount of water to his beak and goes back to the forest and tries to end the fire. It goes like that several times. And then the animals see him and start laughing at him “haha what you think you are doing? How can you end the fire, you are so small.” But then the small bird said the one thing “ I’m doing my part”.
I wanted to say this in my speech but I forgot (laughing). I think this really shows that every one of us can do something about it, it just like dooo something!