‘There is too much of Dutch fashion shown everywhere, but, alas, very little sold,’ says Laura van Erkelens, founder of Fashion NL, an independent online and offline platform for promoting Dutch fashion.
A passionate champion of local talent van Erkelens is as committed to the Dutch fashion cause as they come. It all started during her student days at the Utrecht School of Visual Arts and Design when she worked on her graduation paper researching Dutch fashion identity and its perception internationally. Well, the conclusion of that research was not encouraging—the overall awareness of Dutch fashion was quite low. Ironically not only abroad but also in the Netherlands.
While upon graduation other classmates pondered carrier direction Laura van Erkelens had a clear vision of an organization that will promote Dutch fashion internationally with the eventual goal of translating design talent into sales. For van Erkelens the words ‘sales’ and ‘commercial’ do not carry a negative connotation. On the contrary. If a fashion creation is desirable it will find an owner, it will sell.
And so Fashion NL was born. The initial step was to launch an English language website dedicated to emerging and already established Dutch fashion designers and labels, build own network and raise awareness. The next step would be a web shop and targeted attendance of international trade fairs.
In less than two year’s time Fashion NL garnered an impressive following. Its face book page counts around 5,000 fan and that with hardly any promotion or marketing. According to van Erkelens US visitors account for the second largest group of FashionNL website traffic, followed by the visitors from the UK and Germany.
It is analysing her web traffic and talking to designers that Laura van Erkelens thought the time was right to venture off line into the physical realm of commerce. And almost naturally the concept of a Wardrobe store emerged.
Amsterdam is an eclectic city and so is its residents’ style. Why not offer a similarly eclectic selection in one spot? That’s exactly what Warbrobe#1 is about. 19 designers, 19 design aesthetics, 19 different styles ranging from classy and elegant to edgy and avangarde. The seemingly disparate pieces work together forming the basis of a perfectly eclectic wardrobe ideal for style conscious urban residents.
In her selection van Erkelens was specific about provenance, craft and ethical production methods. She feels that these principles cannot be compromised and that’s what she hopes will set the Wardrobe#1 and its offering apart from other shops.
Wardrobe#1 is an exciting initiative and certainly has legs. Let’s hope it has miles to travel in the Netherlands and beyond.