Tuesday, 25 August 2015

An Introduction to Dutch Eco Fashion

Amsterdam, during the Grachtenfestival (canal festival), which runs from 14th-23rd August 2015
The Netherlands is best known for its beautiful canals, rich trading history and the famous Koningsdag (King's Day), but in recent years it has also become one of the most exciting countries at the forefront of sustainability. Recent research by the Erasmus University and Circle Economy has shown that 8.1% of all Dutch jobs (810,000) are currently directly or indirectly contributing to the circular economy, whilst Eco Fashion World has described the Netherlands as "at the forefront of the ethical fashion movement", thanks in part to financial initiatives from the Dutch government and a strong history of innovative design in the country.

Industry-leading organisations such as Made-By and the Fair Wear Foundation operate from the Dutch capital Amsterdam, and the city's Fashion Academy hosted the very first Sustainable Fashion Symposium in May 2015, which included speakers Victoria Loomes, Trend Analyst at trendwatching.com and Natalia Forster, Global Brand Director at TBWA for Adidas.

Dutch slow fashion brands such as MUD Jeans have also been recently gaining international recognition for their approach to closed loop production, and were a special focus at the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin in the summer of 2015, with seven individual labels showcasing unique and innovative looks as part of the Dutch Eco Design collective. Simon Angel, co-ordinator of the government-funded initiative, explains the mentality behind the movement:

“Fashion has outgrown itself, caught in the pressured web of its own success and autonomy. It’s time for a reinvention. Dutch Eco Design is here to prove that there is no difference between ‘ethical’ and ‘fashion’ by bringing inspiration and innovation to the fashion industry and showing that design and sustainability are one and the same.”
Simon Angel, Co-ordinator for Dutch Eco Design


Amsterdam | studiojux.com
Minimalistic, modern and fun pieces that are ethically produced – that’s the philosophy of designers Jitske Lundgren and Carlien Helmink, who founded JUX in 2008. Since then, the brand has won multiple awards for its “fashionable, fun and fair” approach to design, including the Ethical Fashion Award in Paris and the Green Fashion Competition in Amsterdam. The bulk of the collection is produced in the designers’ own atelier in Nepal, and they only use sustainable materials such as organic cotton, recycled plastic and Lyocell.

Elsien Gringhuis
Arnhem | elsiengringhuis.com
For luxury sustainable fashion, look no further than Elsien Gringhuis, who combines wearability and functionality with high quality materials, clean lines and angular shapes. The production process is designed to create as little waste as possible, using only natural fabrics such as organic cotton, bamboo, wool and silk, which are Fairtrade and GOTS-certified. And it’s not only the customers that love the brand’s minimal tailoring – in the short time since its inception in 2009, the label has won both the Green Fashion Competition and the Fair Luxury Award.

MUD Jeans
Rhenen | mudjeans.eu
Perhaps one of the Netherlands’ most famous fashion exports, MUD Jeans has gained international recognition in recent years for making cradle-to-cradle a key part of its business model, offering many ways to make your jeans live longer. Rips are repaired free of charge, and unwanted jeans can be returned to be re-sold as vintage pieces or recycled, saving 50% of the water that would be used in a new pair. The label’s forward thinking approach also extends to its denim lease programme, in which the vision of the brand is fully realised – a truly circular economy, with no waste. 

Amsterdam | paala.nl
Another label to come out of Amsterdam’s stylish fashion scene, Päälä combines clean lines and perfect fit with high quality, sustainable materials and interesting prints, which are screen printed by hand in the capital. The brand only uses GOTS-certified fabrics and dyes including organic cotton, and produces according to the high standards of the Fair Wear Foundation.

Naarden-Vesting | myomydogoods.com
MYOMY’s handbags don’t just look good, but do good – since 2007 the brand has been involved in the production of responsibly tanned leathers, which minimizes the release of chemicals and other hard metal compounds into the environment, therefore helping to protect the quality of the drinking water in the areas it operates. MYOMY also insists that the cattle is treated well and dies of natural causes before being used in leather production, and the label pays its farmers a fair wage, ensuring access to education and improved medical care.

Amsterdam | rewrap.eu
Rewrap is an accessories brand with sustainability at its core, from the 100% biodegradable materials manufacturing process. The handbags are made from coconut fibres, natural rubber, walnut and beeswax by employees with disabilities in the small Amsterdam-based workshop, and as the brand cannot reduce its energy usage any further, it is also helping a factory in Thailand minimize their emissions, thereby achieving a zero carbon footprint.

O My Bag
Amsterdam | omybag.nl
O My Bag produces beautiful leather bags and other small accessories, which are designed in Amsterdam and sourced and produced locally in Kolkata, India, from certified Fair Trade organisations. The brand is stocked in many contemporary fashion boutiques as well as those with an ethical fashion focus, and has also been featured in Elle and Grazia amongst others. It's not hard to see why - you can find everything from classic satchels and laptop bags to more fashion-forward circular shapes, backpacks and cross-body bags.

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