Thursday, 10 January 2008

Hiphonest: ethical fashion in Amsterdam

A cross in a circle, passing by on a bag, a jacked or a pair of jeans. Ethical fashion brand Kuyichi made it quite far in The Netherlands! In Berlin we had to suffer to find more than one kind of Kuyichi male jeans, here Kuyichi is rather mainstream. Even in the village where my parents live there is a shop with a better collection than any shop in Berlin can offer, meanwhile also selling Misericordia and Inti without even marketing their shop as ethical.

Is ethical fashion more hot in the Netherlands than in Germany? Hard to say. Germany has been a pioneer with organic cotton clothing, and still has a strong position in the "eco 0.1". But what about "eco 0.2", the new, young and trendy eco-fashion movement?

Something especially developed is the amount of projects, campaigns and organizations that commit themselves to hyping ethical clothing. In Germany I have the feeling this is not happening too much. That's a big difference. In example dutch organization Solidaridad, inventor of the Max Havelaar - Fair Trade label, the Utz-certification for coffee (a sort of Fair Trade Light for the mainstream coffee market), brains behind several ethical clothing brands including Kuyichi, and the Made-By initiative.

Also other initiatives have been a lot in the picture, in example the actions of the young, creative collective YOI, with a guerilla store and fashion shows, who introduced and hyped the term Hiphonest for the new eco-fashion generation. Now 'Hiphonest' might be the most used term in the Netherlands for trendy ethical clothing.

The reason for my Amsterdam visit this time was a meeting with Goede Waar & Co, a dutch consumer organization specialized in ethical consumption and sustainable production. One of their focuses is clothing. One of their activities is a "clothing checker", a tool to give information to consumers about social and environmental aspects of their clothing. They ask ethical and mainstream brands to fill in their questionnaire, visit the companies when possible, and give scores for the categories: social, environment, economy (people, planet, profit).
Goede Waar & Co do also a lot in campaigning, in example organizing swapper parties, and swapping your clothes on parties is getting hot if you did not know it yet.

After my visit to Goede Waar & Co I walked back through the Jordaan to the station. On my way through the Haarlemmerstraat I passed two stores for "Natural clothes", and off course the ethical fashion store Nukuhiva, with a rather strong choice of ethical classics. Not a daring choice, most of the collection was black (if green is the new black, it still looks quite black!).
About half of the Nukuhiva clothing collection is Kuyichi, a heaven for 'style conscious' Kuyichi lovers! Furthermore brands like Edun, Misericordia, Loomstate, and Intoxica. They had also a small but cool choice of shoes from Veja (organic, vegan shoes) and Worn Again. And the fantastic jewelery from designer Natalie Dissel, who I lately met during the Africa Inspires workshop in Kenya.

This part of town is loved for its small houses and picturesque atmosphere, and what once was a poor area is now a yuppies paradise. Still I am amazed that with the extreme house prices this area is still lively and dynamic, with a good blend of students, expats, LOHAS, artists, weirdos, dealers and grandmothers. For the ethical consumer there is a lot of offer, with a bio-supermarket, and the booming 'honest' coffee and bagels concept. The largest ecological market I have seen so far. And not to forget, bikers are the number one in traffic! At least they believe so.

*** article by Frans C. Prins

More interesting dutch initiatives on ethical clothing:
- Sustainable Fashion Community: Het is groen en het...
- Cotton Clash, hiphonest parties, ethical fashion shows: Move Your World
- Fair Wear Foundation
- Finding ethical products in The Netherlands on: Alles Duurzaam
- Clean clothes


inti said...

Hey, I read in the intro of this post that you mention Inti, probably a clothing brand, probably ethical... given that inti is also my name... would you care to link me to the brand? what do they do? how do I find them?

Anonymous said...

Also check out Dutch social entrepreneurs in clothing: