Can you describe what you do? Where you are based, the neighbourhood you live in, your daily routine, the people you work with, the scene you feel the closest to.
I have been described as an environmental activist, a photographer, an art director, a creative director , a curator, a fashion designer. But what I love most is writing. Writing is my true passion. I am currently living and working in Antwerp. I didn’t have a daily routine for quite some time. I enjoy my freedom and don’t like to stick to office hours. Of course this unorthodox lifestyle is hard to maintain when you own a business. It’s one of the reasons why I left the fashion industry in 2009. But I must say I love the people I work with and I love the customers I work for today, they make it all worthwhile. We believe and fight for the same things and share the same goal and that is to make the fashion industry more transparent and humane.
There is room and respect for people with rebellious ideas because there is no establishment to look up to.
How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?
What I like about Antwerp is that it’s a city that still hasn’t reached its full potential. It’s still growing and evolving. Which is something that makes me feel hopeful for more innovation to come. Many who are living here feel that they can be an important part of this ongoing change, which differs greatly from a city like Paris, where you can feel irrelevant if you don’t belong to a certain group. Antwerp is filled with outsiders and I love that.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
Most people don’t feel invisible here, because they know that what they do or say can have an impact on the city or even across the borders. There is room and respect for people with rebellious ideas because there is no establishment to look up to. Besides that, I think people enjoy living here because it’s small enough to be charming and big enough when you find yourself in need of privacy.
How would you say has Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?
I do think there is a limit to what a city can do for or to a person. In the end we are talking about a location. Passion, creativity, enthusiasm – all those things come from the soul of an individual. Where we physically live has a limited influence on us. Antwerp doesn’t make or shape its inhabitants, it is the people who live here that make and shape Antwerp.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
Love, kindness, respect, oxygen, trees. All those good things certain politicians and their voters do not care for very much.
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?
If they just have one day to visit Belgium, I would advise them to visit Ghent or Bruges. Antwerp is not something you can understand in one day. You need to stay here for a while and let it sink in.honestby.com Photography Joke De Wilde