While Fashion Week has long been associated with the big four, Paris, Milan, New York, and London, the success of Copenhagen over the past few years has shone a spotlight on Europe’s other, fashion conscious cities. Long known for its artistic and cultural heritage, in recent years the Dutch capital has struck out on its own in terms of its streetwear offerings (highlights have included Daily Paper, Patta, The New Originals and more), but under the recent creative direction of celebrity stylist Danie Bles, Amsterdam is now competing for a space on the global fashion scene.
This year’s AMFW was the fifth under the direction of Bles, and arguably its biggest on the international stage, with renowned editors, producers, stylists, journalists, and influencers settling into the city’s finest hotel, D L’Europe Amsterdam. By and large it was a mixed bag, spotlighting a variety of brands, including eco-conscious label MARTAN, couture-led Tess van Zalinge and the shock jock stylings of Atelier Reservé / RESERVEBOYS.
What there was a distinct lack of, however, was the breakout streetwear brands that have really put Amsterdam on the sartorial map of late. While New Amsterdam Surf Association made a strong entrance, delivering one of the best experiences of the week, it would have been more impactful to have seen the presence of brands like Daily Paper, Patta, Lack of Guidance, and The New Originals. There was also a faux pas, Steve Madden’s show, which took place in a jail, saw models walk the runway in fake prison-inspired garb, with some going so far as to appear — for lack of a better word — ‘crazy’. It was quite the misstep, and seemed out of place within AFW’s wider ambitions, and commitment to inclusivity.
Still, under the direction of Bles, AFW is slowly growing year on year; partly thanks to its commitment to staying in its own lane, even if that means being slow, steady and intentional with its programming. “I’ve spent my entire life working in the fashion world, and now I’m working hard on elevating Amsterdam Fashion Week and making it known on the wider circuit,” she told HUNGER on the second day of AFW. “We don’t want to be another Cophenhagen, Paris or Milan. We’re doing it our way.”
But make no mistake; Amsterdam is an emerging fashion market to keep your eye on. Read on for our rundown on some of the city’s best brands to keep an eye on as we move into the latter half of the year.
New Amsterdam Surf Association was founded by former professional windsurfer Paul Zeper to bring attention to the fact that, yes, there is surf in the Netherlands, but more importantly, to give this small cohort of surf fanatics a collective identity, founded on their shared passion and perseverance. Those who have caught the surf bug in this part of the world aren’t seeing many tropical locales, instead they have brown water, sub-zero temperatures, and lots of wind, but that doesn’t stop them. A uniform was deemed necessary and so Zeper, who trained as a graphic designer, was driven to create a range that best represented this counter-cultural movement. The result is practical, poppy, with hard-to-miss colourways, and graphics that feature the likes of Vermeer to the cult-classic surf movie Point Break.
Atelier Reservé is based on an ethos of nonconformity and challenging the norms of the fashion industry. Founded by visual artist Alljan Moehamad and designer Deyrinio Fraen, they unveiled their ‘Discomfort’ collection at Amsterdam Fashion Week. With it, Atelier Reservé showed off what they do best; upcycling and seamlessly blending vintage materials and repurposed attire to create a tapestry of equal parts heritage and rebellion. Notable looks included a white coat featuring the image of Princess Diana, a reworked kimono silhouette, and a silver lace-up corset paired with a recycled Burberry trench coat. Further bridging the gap between consumers and high fashion is their partnership with Ayden, which allows individuals to instantly purchase items straight from the runway.
MARTAN is another Amsterdam-based label committed to sustainable fashion. This year marked their second outing at their native fashion week, and featured their most expansive upcycled collection to date. It was an ode to SS23; combining nautical themes, bright primary colours and even sailing knots in lieu of clothing altogether. Shirts and belts were utilised to the max to resemble marine life, and the use of scaffolding nets read was innovative — it was summer’s last breath writ large. Notably, the collection was entirely created by upcycled hotel linens, echoing MARTAN’s commitment to climate-conscious fashion year round.
With nearly all European fashion houses specialising in leather, Wandler burst onto the scene in 2017 and provided a breath of fresh air. Founded by Elza Wandler in her native Amsterdam, with wares crafted in Italy and Portugal, the brand has made waves on the international scene. Featuring refined shapes, functional usage and top-tier craftsmanship, the designer says she finds inspirations in the upper echelons of culture, like modern art, as well as in nature and the otherworldliness in everyday life, all while staying true to her Dutch heritage. Wandler was featured at AFW’s The Hub, this season.