Gender is a lie! An interview with Designer Mark Baigent

We had a little chat with designer Mark Baigent, about Gender, Fast Fashion and why he left Vienna and opend his own fair trade factory in Bali. Mark is known to create “gender-free” clothing with minimalistic and geometric shapes. His conceptual collections are characterized by timeless deconstructed patterns for women, men and locally sourced materials. Each collection is a task to create a dialogue between conventionalism and avant-garde. Seeing every gender as “only” human and equal the silhouettes become indistinct and wrap themselves around their host. All pieces are their own concept and are conducted to perfect craftsmanship, unisex cuts. Clean and simple elements create the unblemished appearance. Baigent received his fashion education in 2008 in Linz / Austria. 

KALTBLUT: Gender is a lie! Why?
MARK: A very good question and I do get asked this a lot. In general “Gender” is something that humans made up to categorise something and Label it because that is what we humans like doing. No matter how open minded we are, its our nature. Gender is a lie and lies always have the tendency to mess things up and people find out about it. I think we are in the time and age where people are finding out that this lie has been damaging millions of humans and their personalities. So it is time to tell the truth now.

KALTBLUT: Do you think human-wear is our savior? If we are able to equilize our bodies, we might equilze our society?
MARK: Uuuh! Another very good and nice question and I have to admit that I did not think about it like that yet. But that thought is triggering a nice feeling inside of me and I have to say YES! I do believe that to an extent clothing can equalise society. But I do not think that clothing is meant to be used in that way. One should express ones own individuality with it and every kind of fashion is different, the reason why I define my clothing as human-wear is because I do not want to chain my garments to one gender with words like “womenswear” or “menswear” as there is so much in between, next to up and below these two definitions.

MARK: I think Bali is the first place I have ever been to where I can feel free with what I do. I do not have people telling me I can’t do a certain thing. Also I have to admit that Bali offers me as artist more possibilities to try out and experiment.

KALTBLUT: You stopped seasoning your cloth, do you think the fashion industry is to fast?
I don’t only think so I know so. Ever since moving to asia I get more and more disgusted by fast fashion. Indonesia specially is known for its enormous waste of plastic and textile waste.  It’s a topic that I have been preaching since years: buy less and buy wise!
The good thing in Bali is though that I would say 60% of all the clothes or fashion one can buy on this island is also produced here due to very high import taxes etc. Also in Bali one can still go to a shoemaker or seamster and have his own clothes made.

KALTBLUT: You also stopped attending at Fashionweeks, do you think the fashionindustry as we know it is done?
MARK: I stopped attending fashion weeks out of the simple reason that I have been building my company and opening my own factory and that took longer then expected.
Yet I do not thing that the fashion industry is done I would more say wholesale is dead.
There used to be a time when buyers and selected press where the only ones who decided what people would wear the next season. But these days everyone can see the new collection directly from their couch in their living room.

Which is not a bad think per se but its a new way and a new cycle of fashion. The consumer decides wha the shops will offer the next season and its hardly the other way around at the moment. So I will return to show in Paris when I have enough wholesale clients to supply with my collections.

KALTBLUT: You have your own fair trade factory, do you think “buy more focused” is better then “buy less”?
MARK: Buying more focused in a sense of where and under what circumstances your garments are made if definitely important and so is buying less. So I think the one automatically includes the other? At least in my head it does.

KALTBLUT: You worked with local artists and developed your own fabric, tell us more about it!
MARK: Well one of my signature pieces throughout all my collections where my handmade and handwoven scarves. Before I lived in Bali I worked with a weaving family in Kanataka India. They developed many fabrics and scarves for me which I designed and they executed.
Indonesia has a very long heritage in weaving and handmade textiles. So I thought it would have been easy to do the same here. Yet the art of Lurik, Songket or Ikat is getting less and less and there are many fake products coming from china to the Indonesian market. It is even hard for locals to tell the difference sometimes.

After a long research I finally found a trusted weaver in central Jawa that I work with very closely, sometimes he sends me fabric design proposals and sometimes I do the same. The art of weaving is something that I want to uphold and support and as said an essential part of my brand.

KALTBLUT: Is there any artist you admire and wish to work with, or and want to dress?MARK: I used to make garments for the likes of Lady Gaga or Beyonce back in 2011 and 2012 when I had not found my voice yet in fashion. Since I am working on my own brand now and finally found the core of what my textile art is about. I care more about artists that are a match for my brand.

I would say I would be honoured to dress artists like Morrissey, Patti Smith, Fever Rey, Frida Hyvönen or Ibeyi to name some more known artists. But in general I am very open for any artists no matter what their degree of public exposure is.

KALTBLUT: You have been always inspired by ethnical influences, do you think its a part of your own heritage?
MARK: Well I am half New Zealand but I never really lived in that country. I think my fascination for other cultures and ethnicities comes from my younger years when I developed a fascination for the Flower Power movement.

When I think back I remember clearly holding an Album by Janis Joplin in my hands and she was wearing a long red velvet kaftan on the cover sitting on a motorbike and I was so fascinated by the beauty of this garment that I started wearing anything that was long and flowy fabric. Researching anything I could find about india firstly and slowly but surely moving to japan and china. I loved any books or movies I could find about the traditional attire of these countries which I was a total stranger to back then – little did I know.
I started wearing garments considered womenswear but I owned them and they never really looked like “womenswear” on me. And this was the beginning of me questioning gender bound clothing I guess.

KALTBLUT: You launched a very succesful kickstarter to buy your own fair trade factory, what comes next? What can we expect?
MARK: My website launched some weeks ago and I will continue to upload products on it. As of this season my collections will be also in a new shop in Vienna and Stuttgart and also 3 new Bali locations, a cooperation with an established spa in New Zealand is also in the talkes. This year is very exciting! If you sign up for my newsletter you can receive monthly updates on special offers and news about my brand.

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