Roy Anton Dik, co-founder of the Groningen-based fashion label “Mont Mata,” sat down with the Northern Times to introduce his young label and share his views on the link between the fashion industry and social responsibility.
By Mehret Haile-Mariam
The Northern Times: Roy, you are one of the founders of the Groningen-based label “Mont Mata.” Can you tell us more about the label?
Roy Dik: “Mont Mata” is an international urban fashion label founded two and a half years ago by my brother and me. We always wanted to do something that allows us to combine our passions: fashion and social action.
For your recent campaign, you teamed up with “Stichting de Kledingbank.” Why did you do so?
“Stichting de Kledingbank” is a counterpart of the foodbank. We learned that the province of Groningen was receiving Afghan refugees, and we wanted to help. We decided to team up with a local institute rather than something big such as Amnesty International or the Red Cross. We did that before and it’s nice because people remember the name, but the impact of something local is much bigger.
What’s the meaning behind “Mont Mata”?
“Mont” is French for “mountain” and “mata” is Indonesian for “eyes,” so literally it means “eyes-berg.” The reason why we chose this name is because of its symbolic meaning. With our label similar to an iceberg, you only see the top of it or rather its outward appearance. Once you get closer, you will recognize its depth. The same goes for our label. Once you get to know it, you will see that it’s “more than meets the eye”, which is our motto.
Could you explain that further?
We want to raise awareness for topics we think are important to our society but do not receive enough media attention. That is why we collaborate with organizations such as the Red Cross, Black Lives Matter, or the foodbank. Charity is something people of our age group don’t get exposed to often. We wanted to have something most young people consider really cool, such as an urban streetwear label and link it to something we think is really important but often overseen, our social responsibility to give back to less fortunate people. That’s why we use our platform to create more awareness for important issues that need more attention.
Many people might feel that the fashion industry or consumerism and charity work might be somewhat contradictive. What do you think of that?
At first glance, it could seem somewhat contradictory. We are a clothing label that’s not sustainable in most senses, but we are still trying to do our part. 50 percent of our collection is vintage. It’s second-hand clothing from Italy, which has a very different type of carbon footprint compared to new clothing. We are trying to change how people see fashion, how they buy clothes or even use them.
I remember seeing the post on Instagram and initially looking up your Instagram channel. I was surprised as I couldn’t link a young fashion label to such a campaign. How did you come up with the idea?
We always try to spread the word about pressing issues. At the same time, we know that many people want to support people in need but are too lazy (laughs)… or don’t have the time to organise further action. We knew that the initial collection point was located quite far, in the Northeast of Groningen. We wanted to make this as easy as possible for anyone willing to help but didn’t have the time or motivation to do so. So, we figured the easiest way we could contribute was by using our platform to spread the word, scheduling the appointments, and organising the transport.
What kind of reactions did you receive? Your call for donation circulated on social media, right? How did people react to it?
The Instagram post we used to call for donations is our most shared post out of the year, so exposure-wise it was massive. We got a lot of comments and DMs from people who don’t follow us or don’t even know the label. They said that we really inspired them and that we were doing a great job, only positive things, to be honest. We didn’t get any negative feedback.
Were you surprised by people’s willingness to contribute? I remember seeing your first post. Shortly after, you announced that you already had received so many pickup requests that you had to revise your initial plan.
Well, we expected a high resonance because it’s so low entry, right? You didn’t need to think about a financial contribution. Instead, you get such an easy opportunity to contribute. So, we expected many people to support this campaign, but we never expected the call for donation to get that much exposure and to receive that many pick up requests. Instead of 20 or 30 requests, as we expected, we spent a whole week picking up donations as over 100 people registered. In the end, we were left with almost 200 bags of clothing which is an insane amount that we didn’t expect to gather.
How is organizing such a campaign different from regular business?
Designing and selling our clothing gives us a massive adrenaline kick. Still, those days that we do something like the campaign are just so much more fun. The feeling of contributing to a greater good and being able to help people in whatever way is something you cannot define in a monetary sense.
What else would you like our readers to know about “Mont Mata”?
What is important to us as fashion label and social beings is to “give back”. Every enterprise has a social responsibility. So whatever company you have, you decide how big of a social responsibility and impact you want to have. That’s true for both businesses but also consumers. Being able to buy certain products means that you are fortunate enough to spend money on luxuries. In our opinion, there lies a responsibility in it -the responsibility to give back to the ones’ less fortunate. We try to do this, think beyond our horizon, and motivate consumers to do the same.
Images: Screenshot of promo video. Photos by Mont Mata