When I’m traveling around the globe and talking to people abroad the conversation mostly leads to one subject: each others home country. Asking other people about the country I live in (the Netherlands), the usual suspects always turn up: Pot, Amsterdam, Prostitutes and Clogs. A lot of people think Amsterdam is the weed-smoking prostitute capital of the world, where everyone is wild and free to do whatever they want and that is all there’s to the country. Well, some of those things are somewhat true of course, but a lot about the country is not at all that crazy and wild. When it comes down to the fashion-sense of an average Dutchman (or woman of course) they are pretty boring and not very noticeable. There is a commonly known saying: “Doe maar normaal, dan ben je al gek genoeg” meaning something like “Just act normal, ‘cause that’s crazy enough already”. If you would skim the streets for any glamorous people you would be better off in Milan or any other random Italian city, because here a t-shirt and jeans is everything you’ll need to be fashionable, that’s probably most practical riding our bikes.
Not only the models are becoming more interesting for the international market, there is also some progressive fashion coming from the Netherlands too. Not the scream and shout fashion, with diamonds and glamour, but some real intelligent avant-garde pieces.
G-star and Blue blood, two jeans brands with their own way of making rough jeans and the ecological jeans brand Kuyichi are international big names in the fashion-affordable-for normal-people industry. Nice clothing, but those brands might just keep up the jeans and t-shirt image of the Netherlands. More interesting to look at are the pieces of Dutch greatest: Viktor & Rolf, who are today’s most successful Dutch designers and who keep on making statue-like, intellectual and ironic haute-couture. They certainly didn't listen when their parents told them not to be crazy. The young and upcoming designer Iris van Herpen, about whom I would say creates the perfect crossover between fashion and art, uses the most bizarre figures and brings a whole new idea to the clothing. She uses handcrafted pieces combined with new innovative techniques. And then there is Bibi van der Velden, jewelry designer. On her website she calls her jewelery wearable pieces of art. These are a few among the great designers coming from the Netherlands, but I'll save the others for later. The greatness of Dutch clothing is not found in the streets, you have to look a bit further, but when you do, you’ll find great stuff.
Viktor & Rolf
Iris van Herpen
Bibi van der Velden