Thursday, October 21, 2010

Amsterdam gets on the eco-wagon

Strangely enough, Amsterdam's very first major "eco-fashion event" took place last Sunday. Strawberry Earth Wonderland. It was put on by an organizer called Strawberry Earth, which advocates all things earth-friendly and apparently set a pretty tough standard for vendors. I stumbled across an article about it in a magazine haphazardly tossed into my goodie bag at an Expat fair full of booths offering tips, treats and memberships to social clubs. Of course I pulled this magazine out. Of course I flipped right to this page. I mean, coming from Portland it's like "Yeah, eco-fashion. Recycling plastic. What else is new, right?" But for these guys it is a road not yet traveled.

It's kind of funny, because although the Dutch are rather stylish in my opinion, they are also quite homogeneous and tend to favor "expensive" looks in a subtle yachting-on-the-weekends kind of way. There isn't much diversity, and my beloved old-fashioned grunge doll look that would barely raise an eyebrow in Portland gets all kinds of strange (and occasionally somewhat negative) attention here. Which sucks a tad considering I'm still finding my bearings and don't really want to stand out more than necessary when I stumble mounting my bike or roll up to a sales counter with nothing more than a "Goede Dag" to contribute to the Dutch conversation. Therefore wearing familiar things (i.e. cutoff pastel Gunne Sax dress with threads hanging down, messy hair and a shoulder-padded band conductor cum office woman jacket) has to be toned down a bit. Or does it? I still haven't gotten to the bottom of this one. Anyway, I was really excited about this event because I felt like I could not only see what's up in the Dutch eco-fashion scene, but I could also rock all things I love to the max and not be stared at. Which made me realize something.

Dutch people are really just getting started on this eco-bandwagon as far as fashion is concerned. There is hope that they will yet one day find second-hand girl ghost a fashion-forward idea. Even if they would never do it themselves.

The event itself was actually quite fun. It took place in (according to Matthias) the only cool nightclub in Amsterdam, Trouw. I could see how it would be a good place to party, although like all Dutch structures, the stairways were unnaturally steep and would be somewhat dangerous while inebriated. I arrived at the beginning and had the opportunity to talk to several of the designers (more on that later). It was really nice to speak with others who are as genuinely enthusiastic about their crazy recycled work as I am and have also had some success thus far. Etsy also had a presence at the event, teaching people how to make T-shirt yarn and spreading the word to get the Euros excited about the site. Apparently its rather secret here in Europe. Which is cool, it makes me a little more stoked to spread the word.

Alright, Amsterdam. You might be far more square than people imagine and not quite ready for vampire grunge doll in ratty fur coat on a daily basis, but you have accepted recycled, eco, fair trade and conscientious fashion that has legitimate whimsy and doesn't suck. I applaud you there. It's a decent start.


Mr. Blue Sky said...

I think you nailed it with the "stylish yet homogeneous" comment about (most) Dutch fashion. I remember being quite impressed with Amsterdam street fashion for about the first...month? But I eventually realized that everyone was wearing variations on the same uniform. I hope you keep pushing the envelope, and give them something new and interesting to look at/think about. If challenged, you can frame your choices with prized Dutch values: thrift, tolerance, and diversity of opinion. Either that, or find out where the cool kids from London are hanging out. They will quickly embrace you as one of their own.

Caitlin said...

Yo! Definitely into the aforementioned Dutch values, straightforwardness also among my favorites. Possibly this explains the uniformity? Where are those cool Londoners, eh? It turns out vegan punk community kitchens (two of them not so far away!) are a place I don't feel weird even though I am neither vegan nor punk. The DIY ethos seems to transcend culture though and it's cozy. The only thing I feel hesitant to wear there is my fur coat :)

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