An interview taken from our new digital fashion issue! Designer is Pien Klein Douwel. Photography by Amy Opstal & Daan Kamerman. Models are Elly, Nina Kunst, Mon Klein Douwel, Jermaine Harper, Pim Klein Douwel and Bodvar Hole.
KALTBLUT: Tell me a little bit about your journey that led to you releasing your graduation work?
People in closed communities always intrigued me. Their seclusion from the dominant culture or society allows them to construct their own realities.
I investigate the sustainability, frugality and simple living that is present within these communities.
For my last collection, I focused on the process of Rumspringa. This is a period time in which the Amish youth, around 16 years old, are allowed to explore the world outside their community and before they become official members of the church. Exploring sexuality and identity within a community is something that always comes back in my work.
From my research, I picked some of the values that the Amish live by and my 1:4 concept was born. All garments are folded away instead of cutaway, that way you can re-make them in 6-8 timeless different designs. Additionally, the whole collection is zero-waste patterning.
KALTBLUT: Tell me how you first became interested in fashion; and why you decided to become a fashion designer?
For me, it happened naturally. Without realising, I have always been interested in fashion. I would want to go to fashion expositions and festivals. This naturally growing curiosity intrigued me the most to study fashion design. I didn’t know from day one that I wanted to become a fashion designer, so it’s not a very romantic story. I think for a lot of people, it grows with time.
KALTBLUT: How would you describe the Pien Klein Douwel style?
A mix between harsh, plain volumes and romantic drapery. Strict but poetic.
KALTBLUT: Are there any fashion icons who inspire your design?
Definitely Ann Demeulemeester. But I do like to focus on other disciplines and daily things to draw my inspiration from.
KALTBLUT: What would you say makes Pien Klein Douwel stand out against other brands?
I’d like to focus on the educational and interactive aspects of my work. For me, this is important and my way to add something to the fashion industry.
KALTBLUT: Where do you find your inspiration for your work?
Mostly closed communities. I have always had a fascination for them.
KALTBLUT: What advice would you give to people who want to experiment more with the clothes they wear?
Search for someone who wants to help you to re-make, repair or reconstruct your work. Work together – we do need each other to get things to a higher level.
KALTBLUT: What are your favourite pieces from your graduation collection?
The green apron with the draped sleeves and burnout technique. Next to that one, I love the long white shirt with all waste material folded into the front piece.
KALTBLUT: How would you describe the local fashion scene/industry in the Netherlands?
In my eyes, there are two sides; people who are fighting for more sustainability and long-lasting items. But also a few designers who are very much into this haute couture style, which is not my thing. But to be honest, I like Belgium way better when we talk about interesting fashion.
KALTBLUT: What does being an independent designer mean to you?
Working on adding something to this world, something with value. Not in an expensive way, but a sustainable one. We already have so many brands, collections and designers, you should bring something extra to the table when it comes to sustainability. If you can do that and make people interact with your view, I think you’re an independent designer.
KALTBLUT: If Pien Klein Douwel was ice cream, what flavours would it be?
Good question! I think it would meet chocolate with chilli flakes. Something people generally like but with an extra spice to it!