10 May 2017
Author: Lucia Stansbie
Thinking about the Netherlands and fashion may not bring many images immediately to mind unless it’s those ubiquitous wooden clogs, which that other leading Dutch fashion export, avant-garde enchanters Viktor & Rolf, cleverly reinvented for contemporary consumers.
But as they say, it’s the quiet ones you gotta watch. Would you have guessed that Amsterdam boasts the highest mass of denim labels globally? Here we attempt to present an aggregated picture of the Netherlandish fashion industry, starting – as all things should start – with babies.
With a traditional emphasis on purchasing sturdy goods for children rather than fast fashion accompanying a small increase in the number of Dutch babies being born, sales of childrenswear in the Netherlands stood at a healthy €1.3 billion in 2016. This represents an 1% improvement over sales in 2015, and continued moderate rises according to both profit and to capacity are predicted.
This modest growth did not apply to accessories however, with sales dropping by 3% in 2016 to €228 million. Market Research Netherlands observed that purchases of accessories were largely driven by shifts of the seasons rather than being led by fashion or trends.
Unsurprisingly, the bulk of total value sales of fashion in the country were womenswear, accounting for 46% of all sales in 2016. However, as with accessories, sales are expected to fall slightly at a 1% value compound annual growth rate at prices consistent to 2016. Both these drops are due to a predicted overall slowing of the Dutch economy in 2017; the reasons for this are a decline in investment as well as uninspired figures for both Dutch goods sold abroad and at home.
Interestingly, although sales of menswear stood at 34% of all apparel sold in 2016, this is a category set to grow, with companies awakening to the potential profitability. Menswear in the Netherlands is worth keeping an alert eye on.
Overall, the Dutch fashion industry as represented by Modint, the official organization of the industry, provides jobs to at least 20,000 people and gives forth to 9 billion euro of sales; half of these happen abroad. The gross total value of the Dutch apparel market sits at 10 billion euros. Household names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Chanel now maintain their international headquarters in Amsterdam. They are among 57 non-Dutch fashion companies in the city; nearly half of these join the aforementioned companies in basing their head offices there. Accompanying the global names, which generate jobs for 4,958 people among them, are successful Dutch companies such as G-Star, Denham the Jeanmaker, and Gsus. A cautious look at the denim manufacturers in Amsterdam by municipal research bureau O + S placed sales at €500 million.
Like fashion industries the world over, the Dutch industry struggles with waste. Consumers decline to purchase 21.5 million pieces of clothing per year. Of these, 7.6 million go to good causes, 7.5 million to commercial buyers who then sell them on elsewhere, 3.8 million go
straight to stores, 1.7 million are sold on at reduced prices, 645,000 reinvented, and 580,000 put to death. Various solutions are being examined and tested; the answers most likely lie in technology-led initiatives.
While the answers become clearer, up-and-coming Dutch brands continue to make themselves known on the world stage. Our favourites include Deblon Sports, which takes inspiration from the sensual athleticism of women in Rio but infuse their designs with the richness of a very European colour palette. You could display the coat of arms of Amsterdam on your Vondel watch; each elegant, simple timepiece features it, along with the company’s understated logo. This restraint feeds into the aesthetic of Bound Amsterdam, which turns out garments that will carry effortlessly from season into season.
Pragmatism is also at the heart of a Dutch brand which the Anton Dell Consultancy is proud to represent, Rain Couture. The raincoats that the brand manufactures could not be further away from the drab garments that probably come to mind. They are wholly up to date with current silhouettes and fabrics, while offering complete functionality and protection at the same time. We are also excited to be a part of the Dutch knack for quality childrenswear with Beebielove / Little Miss Juliette which offer bright colours, sturdy fabrics, and reasonable prices to parents of babies and toddlers (Beebielove) and girls up to 11 years (Little Miss Juliette).
All in all, we are eagerly anticipating our next visit to Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands, where we hope to get a sense of the clean modernity and subtle practicality that seems to be a highlight of the modern-day fashion industry.