Arnhem Begane Grond working on designs
© Ngoc Chau

Fashion is usually associated with cities like Paris, New York, London or Milan. But did you know that the Netherlands is also at the forefront of innovative fashion with a rich history, cutting-edge designers and interesting sustainable and circular fashion companies? The Netherlands is where the future of fashion is decided. And you can have a front-row seat!

Leading the way in sustainable fashion

Dutch designers have been international leaders in the fashion world for decades. Their avant-garde style often raises a few eyebrows and their collections are described as different, daring, distinctive and innovative. The Netherlands is home to internationally renowned names such as Frank Govers, Mart Visser, Spijkers en Spijkers, Victor & Rolf, Addy van den Krommenacker, Claes Iversen, Dries van Noten, Fong Leng, Iris van Herpen and Jan Taminiau.

Portraitphoto Jalila Essaidi with spider on her hand

Dutch designers are leading the way not only in their creations but also in their chosen production techniques. The Netherlands has a plethora of talent - from circular designers committed to preventing waste to cutting-edge pioneers using innovation and technology to transform the fashion world. Bulletproof skins made of spider silk, wearable solar fabric and robotic dresses that react to the environment might sound like things from a sci-fi movie, but it’s all just another day at the office for Dutch designers Jalila Essaïdi, Pauline van Dongen and Anouk Wipprecht. Fashion in the Netherlands is about so much more than designer bags and beautiful shoes. Something that these and many other Dutch fashion designers have been proving for years!

Sustainability and circularity are key concepts in Dutch fashion because Dutch designers want to show that things can and should be done differently. The Netherlands may be a small country but our influence on the fashion world is huge thanks to all those special, progressive designers and their creations.

Did you know?

Solar cells can be woven into textiles so that you can generate energy by wearing clothes.

Pauline van Dongen clothes with solar

Dutch fashion: design meets tech

Due to our extensive history in textiles and the power of the renowned Dutch Design philosophy, it should come as no surprise that Dutch designers are fashion innovators and pioneers. The long history of Dutch innovation is reflected in our fashion. It’s in our genes.

Dutch fashion – a journey through time

Canal in Alkmaar

Fashion in the Netherlands stretches back to the early Middle Ages but really flourished in the 17th century, also known as the Dutch Era, when Dutch trade and the economy thrived. This prosperity led to a greater demand for luxury fabrics such as lace, silk and linen. Dutch traders imported these fabrics, which made cities such as Amsterdam, Alkmaar, Haarlem and Leiden famous for their clothing and textile production. These cities determined fashion throughout Europe and are definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in fashion. They’re packed with interesting museums and great shopping streets with trendy boutiques, many of which have not yet been discovered by the masses. So don't tell anyone!

Dutch fashion in the Dutch Era: internationally influential

Lady on bench in Westfries museum in Hoorn

In addition to being a leader in textiles, the Netherlands was also a major hub of art and culture at that time. Fashion lovers will be interested to see how the history of fashion is reflected in our art collections. The world-famous Dutch Masters had a major influence on the fashions of that time. Painters such as Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Jacob van Ruisdael and Jan Steen were influencers before that was a thing. By capturing the impressive clothing of the wealthy in their works, they put Dutch fashion on the map and contributed to the spread of trends far beyond the country's borders. Interested in seeing some of this for yourself? Take a look at which museums showcase the Dutch Masters.

The Dutch Masters were influencers before that was a thing.
Saskia Sampimon-Versneij, sustainable lifestyle expert

Industrial and fashion revolution

Lady looks at fabrics for sock knitting machine

Let’s rewind about two centuries to the Industrial Revolution, which, in the Netherlands, started around 1850. The transition from handmade to machine-produced clothes created new techniques, increased volume and a greater diversity in clothing for different social classes. Pioneering cities in the eastern and southern parts of the Netherlands such as Eindhoven, Enschede and Tilburg used new production techniques that determined the fashion image of the times. Interested in learning more about this? Then visit the TextielMuseum in Tilburg, where you can admire fully operational textile machines from that period!

Trendsetting circular fashion in the Netherlands

The history of Dutch fashion is interesting but the fashion designers of today are equally fascinating. There is a lot going on here thanks to the many creative talents our country has to offer. The combination of design academies and technical universities contributes to the Netherlands being a cutting-edge frontrunner in the field of sustainable and circular fashion. So, design meets tech.

Pauline van Dongen working on developments

There are several ways to participate in circular fashion and Dutch fashion designers of the new sustainable wave are very determined to do so. Some of the famous names involved include Sjaak Hullekes, Pauline van Dongen, Joline Jolink, Joëlle Baten at Remake Studio and the duo Koen Meerkerk and Hugo de Boon at Fruitleather. They and many others are creating a new and more sustainable fashion image. And they’re doing so in their own unique and personal way, by recycling, upcycling, developing new production methods, using new materials, 3D printing, creating innovative concepts where you can rent, share or borrow clothing, or through pioneering innovations such as the spider skin and robotic dresses. Ultimately, Dutch designers are working towards stopping climate change, pollution of the environment and the depletion of raw materials. After all, there’s only one Earth and we have to take care of her.

Want to read more about the fashion designers who are part of this sustainable wave? Check out this story about several fashion pioneers who shape sustainable and circular fashion. By timing your visit just right, you can combine it perfectly with the major fashion events of the Netherlands such as Amsterdam Fashion Week in our capital Amsterdam, the Fashion + Design Festival in Arnhem, Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, Rotterdam Fashion Week in our port city and Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week with activities all across the country.

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