This is how millennials contribute to ethical fashion

Acknowledging the valuable participation of a generational demographic cohort in the labour market.

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David Paulus | Image: © Paco Núñez.
David Paulus | Image: © Paco Núñez.

Despite being the largest generational cohort in the workforce in countries like the U.S.A., in recent years millennials have often been defined as lazy, fickle and unreliable. This degree of labelling runs counter to the valuable contribution of millennials in the area of, amongst others, ethical fashion. The following is the story of David Paulus, whose work is defined by himself as Art Couture —that is each collection is inspired by a particular theme in which his imagination and desire for sustainability take the upper hand. Born as David Gregory Rignaldo Paulus in 1986 on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, the creations of this Dutch-based artist have been featured at the Paris Fashion Week, London Fashion Week and the World Fashion Week.

Describing his childhood back in the Caribbean, David explains that in order to find happiness, he frequently detached himself from, what he calls, his hull on earth. “In my youth, I often had my mind and spirit transferred to a fantasy world where everything was possible and where I was able to be happy. As a child, I just wasn’t that happy as I was neither able to be myself nor express myself”. Raised in the village of Santa Rosa, David indicates that his artistic and creative side regularly led to run-ins with his family. “I think that some of my family members did often not understand me while I also didn’t understand them. Nowadays, they might still not understand me completely, but they are proud of what I’ve achieved and show this extensively”.

In 2005, and while yearning for freedom, David decided to relocate to the Netherlands. A move that he does not regret in retrospect, but which at that point was not that simple. “As humans, we’re often not prepared to deal with change. I too was afraid, because I didn’t know what the future had in store for me”. In the following years, he completed several courses in the field of health, well-being and retail. In the back of his head, however, his creative side was resonating aloud. “I wasn’t happy at all. At some point, a very close friend got really fed up and angry at me. He thought I was throwing my life down the gutter. As a result, he bought me a sewing machine and urged me to stop suppressing my creativity”.

In my work, any form of unfair trade is out of the question.

Inspired by this eye-opening event, David took a bold step and enrolled himself in the fashion and design programme at his local community college. “I was thirsting to learn more and improve my sewing techniques. It is then that I realised that I had often watched my grandmother and mom when they were sewing and stitching. It was indeed part of me all along I just needed the freedom to acknowledge it”. After an internship at the workplace of the Chinese-born couturier, Sheguang Hu, and being part of his native island’s first International Fashion Week, David knew it for sure: his call was to be a fashion designer. “In between, I had already fabricated clothes out of recycled material, but fashion school gave me the incentive to take the industry even more seriously and fully fathom everything related to fabrics and clothing material”.

Besides providing him with a considerable dose of passion, David points out that fashion also allows him to communicate with others. His endless creativeness has already resulted in eight collections under the brand name David Paulus Design: Retro La future, Alice & the Dolls, No Name, the Nutcracker, Cirque Du Vogue, Pop Art (Marie Antoinette, Grace Jones, Cartoon) Circle of Live (All Lives Matter) and Pop Art Disco. His eccentric and hence inimitable style has received favourable feedback both at home and abroad. Says David: “It’s always fabulous to be given the opportunity to present one’s work overseas, even if it’s only because this way you’re able to inspire even more people”.

I’m always busy with the here and now, rather than with where I would like to go.

According to him, his secret to accomplishment lies in two cardinal rules. In the first place, to never let the coercion to make money overhaul the passion for his work. “First and foremost, I’m an artist and to me, fashion has to remain fun”. In addition, David believes that in the fashion industry, there is no way out of corporate social responsibility. “In order to be at peace with myself and sleep well at night, it is of utmost importance that everything I do endures corporate ethics. In my work, any form of unfair trade is out of the question”.

Very aware of where he comes from, in his regular talks with youngsters, he always stresses on the importance of trying to learn as much as possible from every success and every struggle as this is the admission card to personal growth. Yet, his main tip might be the biggest juxtapose his generation is exposed to: living in the moment, no matter what. “I work hard and as such, I’m automatically building a future. However, if you ask me where I would like to be in ten years time, I frankly wouldn’t know. I’m always busy with the here and now, rather than with where I would like to go”.

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