Meet the new generation of Amsterdam sustainable fashion designers
From deconstructing and re-sewing clothes for new collections to saving unsold Balmain from landfill, these fashion-forward, eco-conscious Amsterdam designers are disrupting the fashion industry.
In Amsterdam, new fashion entrepreneurs have sustainability front-of-mind, from AI-powered marketplaces ranking products on their green credentials, to sneakers made from pineapples. And the trend for digital clothing fit for the metaverse is being set by Amsterdam-founded The Fabricant, which this week was backed by Ashton Kutcher, among others, to the tune of €12.8m.
In the luxury world, where unsold inventory is destroyed to retain exclusivity, innovators are challenging the wasteful status-quo – and delighting Vogue editors at the same time. We’ve listed some of these Amsterdam designers who are successfully combining sustainability with style:
Named a luxury fashion innovator by Vogue, Duran Lantink is known for his zero-waste philosophy, saving deadstock designer clothing, and his own inventory, from landfill. By unpicking and reconstructing clothing, his new collections go from pre-loved to re-loved. Since last year, his website allows customers to resell their clothes, or request that a garment be remade into countless possibilities, turning fashion’s throwaway culture into an constantly renewed cycle of reloved clothing.
Hacked_by's mission is to upcycle unsold and overproduced stock into contemporary fashion for men and women. Designer Francisco van Benthum uses deconstruction and collage techniques to create unique clothes, where proof of the upcycling handiwork becomes part of the aesthetic.
The process prevents valuable raw materials from being destroyed, reduces waste and offers a circular solution to the fashion industry. Projects have included remade clothes from Scotch & Soda, Kings of Indigo and a new design-led collection made from H&M sale items and sold in the chain’s flagship stores.
Mercer’s plant-based sneakers have been seen on the famous feet of Bella and Gigi Hadid, Lewis Hamilton and Lady Gaga. Launched in Amsterdam by Dutch designer Pim Dresen, Mercer created the first fully sustainable vegan sneaker made from Pinatex, pineapple leather made from waste pineapple leaf fibre.
Since then the company has also constructed sneakers from wine leather, cactus leather, algae and more. Its mission is to prove sustainability can be cool and high-end, too. Mercer closes the loop by encouraging customers to send back old sneakers which they recycle with FastFeetGrinded to be re-used in the fashion and construction industries.
Named one of the greatest talents of the moment by Harpers Bazaar and winner of the Vogue Fashion Prize in 2020, Mohamed Benchellal’s designs have been worn by Billy Porter and Camila Cabello. Although the Moroccan-Dutch designer doesn’t label himself a sustainable designer, he likes to give used clothing a second life, including military wear or unsold garments from other design houses.
When designing a new line, he takes previous-season creations, deconstructs them and makes something new. For Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week (DSFW), he transformed old army uniforms into haute couture.
Founded by Jolle van der Mast and UvA graduate Alan Daniel Archutowski, Unrecorded creates clothes with sustainability and longevity in mind. The apparel brand is distinctive for its timeless collections, unbound by seasons, and largely gender-neutral range that is built to last and not be thrown away for the next trend.
Using organic cotton, coloured by non-toxic dyes, Unrecorded commits to producing zero waste. It uses 100% of the fabric they have, meaning zero overstock and zero unused materials.
Amsterdam’s sustainable fashion industry
Designers and innovators will find a thriving fashion ecosystem in the Amsterdam Area, which is committed to making the global industry more environmentally friendly.
The city is home to Fashion for Good, an accelerator for startups looking to scale up eco-conscious innovations, and the House of Denim’s jean school producing the next generation of sustainability-focused designers. In the near future, Amsterdam will be home to a 100% circular textile factory, turning locally discarded clothing into sustainable yarns for fashion brands.