The compelling combination of culture, vibrancy and diversity has made Amsterdam an inspirational draw for Europe’s creatives. Especially so in recent years: a new breed of Dutch menswear and footwear producers have been injecting street-style cool into their designs, taking many of the city’s home-grown fashion labels into a new league.
ETQ is an Amsterdam-based footwear and accessories brand that has carved out a distinctive niche in the trainer market. The label was founded in 2010 and produces streamlined designs that buck the trends of the sports apparel industry at large. Engineered under a banner of ‘elegance, timelessness and quality’, its thick-soled leather sneakers and high-tops nod to 90s minimalism, in contrast to the pervading trend for high-velocity running shoes in rainbow colours. ‘Sneaker culture has evolved quite a bit since the 2000s,’ says ETQ’s brand manager Wendy Wang. ‘Our personal taste went from bright colours, prints and patterns towards more minimalistic, clean design.’
ETQ’s signature shoes are low-top lace-ups crafted in soft leather with white rubber cupsoles. The brand’s collection is muted and tonal, featuring fully lined classic trainers in black, white, greys, indigos and tan browns, with only the occasional brighter hue. Detail and texture are important. The brand explores and experiments with a range of materials until a look and feel is perfected; its rubberised leather has a smooth, matte finish while its ice-coloured leather has a soft, almost iridescent sheen. ‘We are still innovating,’ Wang says, and explains that the brand is ‘discovering new ways not to reinvent the wheel but to try to make the wheel better, stronger and more visually appealing’. For autumn/winter 2016/17 more formal footwear, in the form of Chelsea boots and Derby shoes, is being introduced and this will start ETQ’s transition from trainer specialist to menswear brand.
Scotch & Soda was founded in the 1980s, but relaunched in 2001, and its collections bring together an eclectic array of influences and inspirations from around the world. From its design studio – housed in a former church next to a canal in the centre of Amsterdam – pieces are created to reflect the individuality and originality of the brand and its customers.
For its autumn/winter 2016/17 menswear collection, Scotch & Soda has taken its cue from Scandinavia, with rugged utility pieces that have a distinctly Nordic feel. These include a mountaineer’s jacket in a patterned sea-blue wool and worker shirts in yellow marled wool. Knitwear takes its cue from multicoloured traditional Fair Isle designs, updated in a vibrant palette that contrasts nautical blues with hits of coral for a handcrafted effect. Quilted brushed-cotton shirt jackets continue the utility trend; lined with nylon, and featuring an all-over plaid design and welted pockets, they inject a classic workwear piece with stylish appeal. The Owen wide-fit worker trousers, meanwhile, are made from unevenly pigmented cotton twill that has been spattered with paint for a lived-and-worked-in feel.
Daily Paper is another innovative Dutch menswear label. The clothing brand takes inspiration from the African heritage of its three founders and fuses this with modern design. One of the trio is Hussein Suleiman, who moved from Somalia at the age of two and grew up in Amsterdam. He is particularly appreciative of the city’s creative industry and how mutually supportive its members are, which nurtures confidence and a belief in your own possibilities. His brand’s ready-to-wear collection comprises separates, outerwear and accessories. The pieces have a casual, sporty slant, often playing into the athleisure trend. Some T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts are printed with a 1930s map of Masai land in Kenya, while other T-shirts feature Masai prints. A street feel is created by boxy silhouettes and the repetition of motifs and logos that stretch down sleeves and across the chest in a distinctive and eye-catching fashion.
With new ideas and designs that are a direct product of the Dutch capital’s DNA, this is an exciting time for men’s fashion in Amsterdam. It is something that Suleiman is proud to be part of. ‘Many brands have become successful in a short period of time, which of course inspires other creatives,’ he says. Long may this continue.