WBDM Celebrates 10 Years of Fashion & Design

11.06.2016 - Dries Tack

Added value

Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode was set up in 2006. Ten years later, this is a time when anything is possible, a time of development and ideas. Its character is well established. Laure Capitani, Leslie Lombard and Giorgia Morero form the WBDM team. Here, they talk about the past decade.

In the beginning

The creation of Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode was inspired by the agencies working in other creative and cultural industries, such as Wallonie-Bruxelles Musiques or Wallonie-Bruxelles Images. The idea was to offer specific services in support of exports by the target industries. And to forge links between the worlds of culture and business, as was already being done in Flanders.  

WBDM Celebrates 10 Years of Fashion & Design

© Gaetan Chekaiban

In practical terms

We started out by listening to the needs of brands and designers and by carefully selecting the exhibition venues we would be targeting: the International Furniture Fair in Milan and Paris Fashion Week.  We then set about honing our tactics.  For design, we invited international publishers to meet our designers. For fashion, we surrounded ourselves with industry professionals based in Paris, before changing tack and partnering a sales agent whose network allowed him to do all the work to sell the collections. We devised the Showroom (les belges) programme in collaboration with a Paris-based PR agency, for which five labels are selected. 

WBDM Celebrates 10 Years of Fashion & Design

© Miko Miko Studio

Candidates

Any designer can come forward in response to our open calls for applications. Obviously the criteria are established depending on the event or the salon concerned. Each entry is considered by a demanding panel of judges, consisting of international professionals. For fashion, we single out a handful of designers who will benefit from our support for a whole year. The system for fashion is different from the world of design. There are two seasons, two dates not to be missed, two fashion weeks. For design, we want designers to be able to make the most of their presence. Given the current environment, we prefer to focus our resources on designers with the right basic skills to allow them to go international. The same applies to our fashion designers. Nowadays, we make sure we select labels that are ready for something more adventurous. It is essential to take things one step at a time, develop a long-term vision, and get the right team behind them. Guidance and advice are also essential elements of our work. 

WBDM Celebrates 10 Years of Fashion & Design

© Louis-Dorsan van Caloen

Businesses

We go out and find companies, some of which are used to working with designers and others that need to be encouraged to discover the potential benefits of a partnership with a designer. This year for instance, this resulted in “Belgium is design” in Milan for which we put together pairings of designers and companies with very specific know-how and expertise, sponsored by Damn Magazine.  Design involves a lot of images, it puts Belgium on the map but there is an economic and industrial fabric that needs support. Industrial companies must be fully-fledged partners.

One philosophy

We try to be coherent and we are keen to stick to firm guidelines. We are now watched by professionals and eagerly awaited in Milan and Paris. Reliability and consistency over time are virtues we are keen to maintain. We also take our time to build solid partnerships and to use all of our resources. We are not afraid to question things, and listening to the feedback from the designers and creators enables us to hone what we do.

WBDM Celebrates 10 Years of Fashion & Design
WBDM Celebrates 10 Years of Fashion & Design

© Miko Miko Studio 

A quality hallmark

The event we set up in Milan as part of the International Furniture Fair helped Belgian design to benefit from the reputation of the show. Before 2011, the various regions of the country would each have a separate presence in Milan. The fact that today we are able to set up a single exhibition under a single label is one of our great satisfactions. 

A view

Much of our young talent hails from Wallonia and Brussels and is increasingly becoming noticed. We raise the profile of companies and the designers that were already there before we came along, but which would not be so well-known in Belgium without WBDM. This can open doors elsewhere. Our strength? Amazing vitality in the creative sectors, which makes us the envy of many and is something we need to maintain.

WBDM Celebrates 10 Years of Fashion & Design

© Gaetan Chekaiban

Plans

In the fashion industry, we want focus our support more on certain promising labels offering slightly more commercial products. Why not test the Italian and British markets? When it comes to design, we are keen to get the manufacturing companies and service providers more involved in what we are developing. 

WBDM Celebrates 10 Years of Fashion & Design
WBDM Celebrates 10 Years of Fashion & Design

© Gaetan Chekaiban

Estelle Toscanucci

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