From established labels to ambitious startups and innovation platforms, Amsterdam is an exciting environment for unexpected collaborations that push the boundaries of sustainable fashion through new materials and design concepts. While remaining ultra-wearable, of course, as cycling in the rain is part and parcel of everyday life here in Amsterdam. Thanks to the city’s remarkable supply of flea markets, second-hand shops and boutiques selling the finest ethical brands, it has never been easier to lower your fashion footprint and feel stylish without buying brand-new clothes!
Hunt for second-hand and vintage treasures
Nothing new: that’s the easiest way to reduce your fashion waste. Have your pick at Amsterdam’s dozens of second-hand stores, vintage shops and flea markets, including Europe’s largest, the IJ-Hallen market. Its April edition takes place on the 6th and 7th and features 750 stands full of unique items at bargain prices. If ultra-feminine 1950s shapes are more your style, don’t miss the Laura Dols store on the 9 Streets and their appointment-only atelier in Amsterdam West, which houses a stunning collection of vintage wedding dresses. For an option that covers the 1970s to the 2000s, chain store Episode hits the mark. There are four locations to choose from, one of which is at the Waterlooplein market, which is another flea market and vintage extravaganza.
Find the perfect pair of sustainable jeans
When you consider the thousands of litres of water used for a single pair of jeans and the toxic dyes turning rivers blue, buying eco-friendly denim can make a massive difference. Amsterdam has the world’s highest concentration of denim brands and denim lovers – locals own an average of six pairs of jeans and have plenty of green labels to choose from. Like the pioneers of G-Star RAW, who started selling raw, untreated jeans in 1996, and are behind the world’s first denim fabric that is 100% organic cotton and 98% recyclable. Or MUD Jeans, which makes circular jeans from organic cotton and recycled denim. Lease your favourite pair for a year – a subscription service available worldwide – and swap them for a new style, or return them to be recycled.
Explore new luxury by conscious designers
“Leftovers don’t have to look like leftovers”, womenswear designer Ronald van der Kemp told Vogue. All of the pieces from his RVDK label are ethically handmade in Amsterdam ateliers, from materials such as remaining stock and vintage couture fabrics. His collaboration with another local label, Filling Pieces, features sneakers made with recycled leather. Get yours – if still in stock – at places such as de Bijenkorf department store. Meanwhile, HACKED By – a partnership of designers Alexander van Slobbe and Francisco van Benthum – creates men’s and women’s clothing by adding new layers, such as whimsical appliqués, to unsold clothes and surplus fabrics. Find their designs at boutiques and concept stores, such as X BANK.
Get inspired by new materials and change your habits
Finding the right information to make conscious choices is often overwhelming. So, let Fashion for Good, a global initiative to make all fashion good, be your inspiring guide. Their interactive museum for sustainable fashion is the world’s first of its kind and the place to discover innovative materials, like a 100% biodegradable, mushroom-based textile, commit to good habits, and to also purchase carefully curated brands. Put on an interactive RFID bracelet during your visit, pledge to good actions – like buying nothing new or sticking to organic cotton – and take home a customised action plan. To shop labels that are radically transparent about how their products have been made, check out the timeless basics of A.BCH, the cool girl designs of Reformation and the comfy shoes of Allbirds.