Even if your budget prevents you from shopping for exclusive designs, there are plenty of more affordable ways to soak up Amsterdam's fashionable vibe.
Amsterdam Fashion Week
The foremost Dutch fashion event, Amsterdam Fashion Week (AFW) is held twice a year, in January and July. It’s the showcase for young, talented fashion designers. The FashionWeek has it's own unique Amsterdam twist: in addition to catwalk shows, there are plenty of impromptu events are parties downtown where the average bystander can mingle with the fashion elite. They also host additional exhibitions and lectures that are open to the public. What's more, reaching out to all fashion fans during Fashion Week, Zalando presents 10 Days Downtown: 10 public events organised at the city's top cultural venues, presenting fashion in new and exciting ways.
Red light fashion
One example of Amsterdam’s quirky fashion scene is an initiative called 'Red Light Fashion'. Since 2008, several former prostitute’s windows in De Wallen (Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District) have been transformed into exhibition spaces and studios for talented clothing, shoe and streetwear designers. The aim is to give the city's many talented fashion designers a platform to display their creations in public. It just might be a bit tricky to explain to your wife where you bought her that great dress though.
Compact Amsterdam is a great place to go shopping for international brands, as well as up-and-coming Dutch designers. The Museum District (around the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum) is home to the majority of Amsterdam’s luxury boutiques and designer stores. Put on your sunglasses and stroll nonchalantly down the P.C. Hooftstraat - Amsterdam’s most upscale and exclusive shopping street. Along three short blocks you’ll find the likes of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, DKNY, Mulberry, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and more. Renowned Dutch couturiers Frans Molenaar, Mart Visser, Victor & Rolf, Percy Irausquin, Jan Taminiau, Sheila de Vries are also completely at home in “the P.C.” and in the upmarket Cornelis Schuytstraat.
Of course, you don’t have to shop to enjoy fashion. A must-see museum at the top of any fashionista’s list is the Museum of Bags and Purses. Considered to be one of the top eight fashion museums in the world, it has the most comprehensive and specialised collection of bags (over 4000, darling!) from the late Middle Ages up to the present day. Once you’ve had your fill, head to the Hermitage Amsterdam for gorgeous antique ball gowns, uniforms and jewel-encrusted accessories. Take time to stop at the National Museum of Spectacles, which takes you through 700 years of art, culture and history related to glasses.
Dutch fashion designers may be somewhat overshadowed by their French and Italian counterparts, but these couture houses based in and around Amsterdam are equally worthy of our attention. Get acquainted with the very best by reading this introduction to Dutch couture at the I amsterdam blog.