The Belgian fashion designer and multidisciplinary artist is revolutionizing the conventions of fashion through his colorful, quaint, offbeat, and ultra-pop universe, which makes upcycling his signature playground.
“My work is about blurring the lines between fashion and performance art. I don’t want to be pigeonholed,” explained Tom Van Der Borght at the Hyères Festival in 2020, winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Prize.
And at the sight of his creations, we are not surprised. His radical work is a material and conceptual exploration of unexplored territories. The 44-year-old Belgian nonconformist designer, who has a hereditary neuropathic muscle disorder, created his eponymous brand in 2013, after a career in social work. He’s been turning heads ever since.
Art, couture, installation, and performance intertwine for a fashion seen as an “embodied and interactive practice,” between the wearer’s body and the world around it. At the heart, he injects an eco-responsible consciousness: upcycling at its most extreme, luxury made of waste. An aesthetic and creative process that he engages beyond borders, style, and gender.
A lover of materials and detail
This king of recycling is constantly looking for alternative, non-standard beauty. He loves mistakes and flaws that displace the search, defying the classical approach.
His series Seven Ways to be TVDB, an extreme self-portrait of his life and experience, is a glimpse of this, designed with unlikely materials (mountaineering ropes, fish skins, cable ties…).
He also likes to mix “merino wool, transparent acrylic, and lurex” to obtain a roughness of digital knitting. “High tech DIY” in a “low tech performance,” as he formulates it, where innovation coexists with traditional craft.
He also finds multiple possibilities in the constraint. In his influences, he worships Björk, appreciates the designers Craig Green and Iris Van Herpen, and draws from the ethnic shots of photographer Charles Fréger.
His shows are a personal concentrate of all these components, revealing themselves as sculptures on bodies in colorful, unstructured, unexpected combinations, full of humor. And always, from head to toe! Today, his new collection, Time For Love, also presented in Hyères, is more “ready-to-wear.”
An approach that is as colorful as ever, but where the garment becomes a living metaphor for the link between humans, notably sublimating his iconic double hat.
Credits : @Tom Van Der Borght – T.VDB