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Standing (re)present(ations): styling youngsters with second-hand clothing in their neighborhood

Six motivated teenagers, two social housing areas, 18 second-hand items, a workshop, two cameras, some make-up, and a skilled team. These elements mainly describe the project 'Standing (re)present(ations)' by Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle in which youngsters are styled and photographed in second-hand clothing. The first edition of this project took place in Molendreefwijk in Rillaar and Casablanca in Kessel-Lo. Let's have a look!

Text by Anemoon Van Rompay, photography & concept by Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle. This project was made possible thanks to the financial support of Vlaams Journalistiek Fonds / Flemish Journalism Fund.

Teenagers in social housing areas often don't have access to expensive clothing brands. Therefore, finding clothes that are both affordable and fashionable can be a hard task for them. The team behind Standing (re)present(ations) challenges youngsters to create a nice outfit at a very affordable price by showing them different outfits in a style they choose. At the same time, those teenagers also experience what it feels like to be in the spotlight as they get the chance to be part of a photoshoot.

These youngsters love to represent themselves in styles inspired by their icons. We show them how to do that in cheap, achievable ways. - Stylist Fiona

The main goal of Standing (re)present(ations) is to spread the message that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create the outfit of your dreams. It may only take a little bit of your time to find the right items and combine them.


The team that makes this project work, consists out of photographer Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle, stylist Fiona Rombaut, make-up artist Catia Nulens, videographer vijfvoortwaalf, and interviewer Anemoon Van Rompay. When all the participants have given their style icon, Fiona visits various second-hand shops. Over there, she looks for items that she can use to create outfits in the mentioned styles.

For this first edition, she put together three outfits for each model: “They love to represent themselves in styles worn by their icons and we show them how to do that in cheap, achievable ways.” When the outfits are chosen, Ines and Catia discuss which make-up look the models will get. To reinforce that sense of cooperation, the youngsters are asked to give their opinion about the make-up and the outfits they’re wearing. 

These photoshoots become a community thing as other residents come over to look at what's happening. - Photographer Ines

The photoshoots always take place in the social housing areas where the participants live, as it’s a location where they feel home and at ease. For example in the Molendreefwijk in Rillaar, where the project team used one of the houses to dress the youngsters and do their make-up. It also triggers the other people in the neighborhood to come and take a look at what’s going on. Ines: “These photoshoots become a community thing as other residents come over to look at what’s happening. In Casablanca, for example, there was a moment during which one of Hervé’s neighbors came by and learned him how to put on a durag. It seemed like they were brothers instead of neighbors.”


The idea to start a project originated in 2017 when Ines did a summer job at the social housing area Molendreef in Rillaar. During her job, she entertained the children from the area and eventually met the social worker who put her in touch with some families. She spent a couple of afternoons with those families, photographing and talking to them: “I saw what you can do for these people by listening to them and pulling them out of their little cocoon. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to see them open up even more while they’re being photographed.”

My mom is so proud. Normally nothing happens here, but this project turns it into a place where there is something to experience.
- Luna

Luna (13), who lives in Rillaar, is happy that her living area is the setting of the photoshoot: “My mom is so proud. Normally, hardly anything happens here, but this project turns it into a place where there is something to experience.” With the project Standing (re)present(ations) Ines wants to start a conversation with teenagers about how they look. She wants them to feel confident in clothes that don’t have to be new or expensive.

Kevin - © Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle


To give the youngsters some more tips and tricks to easily upgrade clothes to the styles they prefer, the project team organized a tie-dye workshop. René, a fashion brand that upgrades second-hand clothing, also attended that workshop to give some simple tricks and to help the youngsters stitch some nice words on the clothes they brought. Shania even held the camera at the workshop to help with some interviews. Ines concludes: “It was so nice to see those youngsters shine. I hope that this first edition is only a beginning as I would love to share this experience and knowledge with many other young people.”

To see some results of the photoshoots and to get to know more about the youngsters involved, you can read this article. Follow us on Instagram to see the full photoshoots and videos, coming up in the next days!

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