Sustainable shopping by the kilo at Kilo Kilo Vintage
© Abe Jonker via Kilo Kilo Vintage
Category:A sustainable holiday in the Netherlands

Feel good with sustainable fashion

Shopping till you drop and returning home with a bag full of new clothes has to be one of the best feelings in the world. Sadly, it doesn't feel nearly as good when you know that the clothing industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world. That’s why we need a new approach to clothing and fashion. These Dutch initiatives, designers and shops will help you fill your wardrobe with fantastic fashion and happy feelings.

  • The clothes of the future are being designed in living labs and laboratories.
  • Fill your shopping bags at one of the hundreds of fabulous thrift stores.
  • Browse other people's wardrobes at local vintage markets.
Neon sign Shop vintage save the planet

The rise of fashion has been accompanied by many harmful consequences for people and the environment, so it's a good thing that there's a new and increasingly popular countertrend: sustainable fashion! Dutch laboratories and living labs are hard at work developing new fabrics and materials for the clothes of the future.

Meanwhile, designers and businesspeople are joining forces to launch new brands that have a positive impact on people and the environment. Dutch citizens are also doing their bit by saying no to fast fashion and giving their beautiful clothes a second chance at life. You can shop for sustainable clothing at your leisure in the Netherlands.

The materials of the future

Artist Jalila Essaidi experiments with new materials: clothes made from cow dung

In the near future, will we all be wearing shoes made from fruit leather? Or wearing shirts made from cow dung? New trousers made from discarded clothes? Coats that generate energy using solar cells in the fabric? It’s not science fiction. People are working hard to make it a reality. In studios across the Netherlands, innovative designers are developing the sustainable materials and designs that will shape the future.

Sustainable brands, conscious shopping

Of course, it's going to be a while before most of us find these items in our wardrobes. Fortunately, there are Dutch fashion brands and shops that already offer a wide range of sustainable clothing. Made from recycled materials or certified fabrics and produced with respect for people and animals.

Steekjelos Utrecht learn to make and repair clothes, upcycle

Brands like Kings of Indigo and Kuyichi produce trendy and, most importantly, sustainable clothes made from fair materials. You can lease sustainable jeans from Mud Jeans, which they’ll recycle once you've worn them to threads. The Arnhem fashion district is home to young designers working on sustainable fashion in their own unique ways. Prefer to shop online? Check out Dutch websites like ProjectCece and for the most sustainable fashions.

The Nijmegen Duurzame Warenhuis (Sustainabe Department Store) offers a large collection of sustainable clothing as well as a clothing repair service where you can give your own clothes a new lease on life. And a little further, in Utrecht, you can shop at E&Co, a department store for all your green purchases, and on weekends you can also visit the so-called Steekje Los. Here, you can learn all about repairing and upcycling your own clothes. After all, the most sustainable clothes are the ones you already own.

Hip vintage and inexpensive “pre-loved”

Breda J'Adore Vintage St. Annastraat

The biggest part of clothing's ecological footprint is caused by the production process. So giving your clothes a second life is the best way to help people and the environment. You can do this by repairing them or by buying second-hand clothes. There’s the added bonus of a great feeling of satisfaction and - with a bit of luck - it saves money too!

Fortunately, you don't have to look far in Dutch cities to find great vintage clothing shops. From Leeuwarden to Maastricht, yesteryear's fashion is more popular than ever. Nothing beats an original piece with its own unique history. Vintage shops are a great sustainable option because they promote reuse but they’re also charming places with unique items for sale. You're never going to run into someone else wearing the same outfit.

Thrift stores: sustainable and fun

Do you have the knack for spotting the hidden gem among a rack of clothes? Then be sure to visit one of the hundreds of thrift stores in the Netherlands. Thrift is big in the Netherlands, and it shows. The number of thrift stores has been on the rise for years.

The thrift industry prevents more than 150 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year by offering second-hand products. Because they don't just collect and sell clothes: you'll find furniture, electronics, books, toys and much more. Many thrift stores are also social enterprises that offer fun jobs for people who are distanced from the labour market.

Shop at thrift giants or second-hand boulevards

Sustainable shopping per kilo employee with handful of clothes at Kilo Kilo Vintage

Unlike vintage fashion shops, shopping at thrift stores means putting in the necessary work. Any thrift store worth its salt has dozens of racks full of clothing in all shapes, styles and sizes. Their range is much bigger, which can make it more challenging to find the real gems but the prices are a lot lower. Those with a keen eye for fashion can score a great buy.

Many Dutch thrift shops are geared towards avid shoppers: they’re large, spacious and well-lit, often with a coffee corner or lunchroom. The biggest thrift store in the Netherlands, located in The Hague, offers 5,500 square metres of hidden thrift treasures. Alkmaar boasts a true thrift boulevard with six big thrift stores side by side, the perfect location for a marathon shopping spree. See at a glance whether there is a shop near you.

Browsing through other people's wardrobes

The Netherlands also has a busy calendar filled with flea markets and car boot sales. Don't let their modest reputation fool you: some of them are real hip happenings where you can literally buy unique vintage fashion by the kilo. Many of these markets are also the perfect place to rummage through other people's wardrobes, as they often allow individuals to hire a stall to sell their own superfluous clothing.

The Meuk is Leuk website shows all vintage clothing events taking place in your area in the near future. No matter where in the Netherlands you may be, you're never far away from a new outfit that makes you feel and look good. Wearing the fashion of the past is a great way towards a sustainable future.

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