- Don-Alvin Adegeest |
The opening day of a tradeshow is always the best to visit, at least for atmosphere. Busy, buzzy and hopefully some business too, exhibiting brands at the Modefabriek in Amsterdam had high expectations for visitor numbers, which without knowing the official headcount, appeared well-attended on its inaugural day.
The autumn winter collections in January seem to draw greater audiences than the summer shows, which given the chilly Nordic market and climate, makes perfect sense. For its 44th edition there was a renewed focus on menswear, with over 100 men’s brands on show, most of which were in the East Hall of the RAI exhibition space.
But despite the men’s focus, womenswear had the stronger representation, mixing established and commercial brands with even the odd directional designer. In the men’s hall, the wellies at Hunter were notable, as were outerwear purveyors Peuterey and Fortezza. Largely absent was men’s tailoring, with the exception of Van Gils, an affordable Dutch suiting company. Street style, denim and casualwear sum up the majority of the brands.
I catch myself doing a double take at the first stand I visit. It is called Tits. A brand with an algorithmic name (it means This is the Sh*t) is as tongue-in-cheek as it is relevant. Even if there is little correlation with the #MeToo moment it certainly resonates with the zeitgeist of global activism and women’s marches to demand deeper social and political change. Nathalie Zoeteweij, the brand’s founder, confidently shows me the t-shirts, baseball caps and jewellery emblazoned with boobs, which have become a symbol of current feminism. “Our boutique is on the De Clerckstraat,” she tells me matter of factly. Where else but in Amsterdam would you find a store dedicated to women’s breasts?
Sustainability vs creativity
Sustainable brands had a presence too. Dutch accessories company Myomy’s bags are made from leather sourced from tanneries using less chromium. Its production processes, which are set in cooperation with the Craft Resource Center employs local artisans in India, produces less waste through recycling and uses natural energy, such as recycled water from monsoons and sustainable boreholes.
The bags were rather basic, however, with a plain shopper retailing for just under 200 euros. Beautifully designed bags should never need to forego sustainable practices, but neither the other way around.
Craftsmanship was at the heart of Allan K, an accessories brand from Belgium that specializes in woven leather. Supplying its woven techniques to luxury brands including Bottega Veneta and Hermes, Allan K began life as a producer, developing machinery able to weave leathers in thousands of varieties. With its own collection still in its infancy, the Modefabriek is a platform to reach a wider Benelux customer, which is its strongest market in terms of sales.
Not every brand and designer at Modefabriek showed collections from a traditional booth. Dutch menswear designer Joost ten Broek decided the best way to cement his presence was to wear something from the current season, and meet and greet buyers himself, with no booth, no collection, and only a look book and good dose of enthusiasm to show. Dressed in a boiler suit, his brand Yoost deconstructs sportswear with a dash of laissez-faire Amsterdam. What started as a capsule trouser collection has organically grown into an array of clothes meant for everyday. Ten Broek aims to blend tolerance, togetherness, design and authenticity, calling them garments without ego.
Give credit where it's due
After having been to Pitti Uomo in Florence, White in Milan and plenty of other tradeshows in the past season, Modefabriek felt surprisingly well-organized. The RAI venue is the perfect size to house a fashion exhibition, with high ceilings, spacious halls and ample booths making it easy to navigate and find brands, without every feeling claustrophobic or so huge you never make it out of the café.
With one exception, when a marching band popped out of nowhere followed by a troupe of models dressed in top to toe yellow, I knew it was time to go.
Photo credits: Yankeemagazines, Modefabriek AW18