Fashion brands from the Netherlands arrive in Shanghai to foster cooperation

By Liao Fangzhou Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-16 18:23:01

When it comes to high fashion, the Netherlands might not be as established a country as France or Italy, but it is home to a growing number of internationally recognized brands that are revolutionizing youth aesthetic.

In order to further explore market opportunities in China, 20 Dutch streetwear brands recently arrived in Shanghai - considered China's de facto epicenter of fashion - to exchange expertise and insights with local academicians, retailers and other brand representatives.

"Dutch fashion stands for innovation, crossing border, comfortable with a twist and sustainable," Anneke Adema, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Shanghai, said at the seminar "CROSS - A Sino-Dutch Fashion Dialogue" at Donghua University Tuesday.

Adema cited several examples to support this, including Amsterdam-based Viktor & Rolf, who were called "among the most surreal and innovative designs in the history of fashion" by Vogue magazine.

Conceptual yet conservative

Esther Megens, from Astor Fashion, said she has been curious why and how a "mini country" like the Netherlands has developed such a large reach in the global fashion industry.

She suggested it could be because its brands have begun to appear on the catwalks of international fashion weeks and are also being worn more often by world famous celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Beyonce and First Lady Michelle Obama.

But even more so, Megens believes it has something to do with the designers' unique and isolated personalities, what she calls "Dutch DNA." The Dutch, she said, are renowned conceptual thinkers who look at all aspects of things and are also pragmatists who strive to find solutions for everyday problems.

For example, a Dutch shoemaker would go to great lengths to produce high heels that would not slip off or get stuck in a sidewalk while walking. "We always think for someone else when we make something," Megens said.

Sule Orhan from shoe label L'enfant Terrible said she is inspired by everything she sees, including the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia and a street in Istanbul. "I love traveling and I love to come to China and see the streets and architecture here," she said.

But Megens also believes that most Dutch people are still quite conservative in terms of what should be worn, often looking half-surprisingly and half-disapprovingly at bold outfits. "We tend to look at what somebody else does, and if they do it, we do it too. In this sense we need Americans and Asians, who have more guts, to show themselves," Megens said.

Formalizing cooperation

During the event, the Consulate General of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Shanghai and Shanghai International College of Fashion and Innovation with Donghua University signed a letter of intent to formalize their cooperation following the successful co-organizing of two fashion events last year.

Adema pointed out that Donghua University has high expertise in the fashion industry, as its design education is regarded as among the best in China. "Today's students will be tomorrow's designers, consumers and teachers. By building a bridge between students and Dutch designers now, the foundation for more exchange and cooperation in the future will be built," Adema said.

Li Jun, deputy dean of the college, called the current state of the global fashion industry a "huge challenge" but agreed that the pairing of Chinese and European designers is certain to produce interesting results. "A shared craving for innovation and a responsibility about sustainability has brought the two of us together."

Anneke Adema, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Shanghai


A panel discussion at the Sino-Dutch fashion dialogue seminar Tuesday


Designs displayed at the Sino-Dutch fashion dialogue seminar Tuesday

Photos: Courtesy of the organizers

Newspaper headline: Dutch DNA

Posted in: Metro Shanghai

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