Fashion Industries: The Netherlands versus Great Britain

Dutch national Annelies Keus writes about her love for the fashion industry in both her home of the Netherlands and her current place of residence, London. She compares the two industries and gives us tips of the big designers to look out for. 

With Amsterdam Mercedes Benz Fashion Week fresh behind us and London Fashion Week right around the corner, I took the opportunity to compare two of the leading fashion industries in Europe.

Dutch and British fashion industries have quite a few resemblances, especially when it comes to education. Design academies train well-educated and forward-thinking young conceptualists for international markets. However, the cultural influences of both countries leave their own remarkable signature on couture fashion.

The Dutch fashion sector can be characterised as conceptual, open-minded, pragmatic, process-oriented and innovative. Since the mid-1990s, Dutch couturiers and ready-to-wear brands have been met with growing enthusiasm in international markets. Increasing numbers of Dutch fashion designers such as Viktor & Rolf, Spijkers and Spijkers, Edwin Oudshoorn and Iris van Herpen, are showing their creations successfully on international catwalks.

The Netherlands itself is becoming an international stage for the fashion industry, with initiatives such as the Arnhem Mode Biennale, Global Denim Awards, Amsterdam International Fashion Week, Streetlab and the Dutch Fashion Awards.

A young Dutch designer you definitely need to keep an eye on is Liselore Frowijn. Her 2013 graduation project, Afternoon of a Replicant, won the prestigious Frans Molenaar prize – an honor that generally marks the beginning of a promising career in fashion. Her designs, inspired by art and culture, have already garnered considerable praise from the international fashion world.

British worldwide phenomenal fashion houses include Victoria Beckham, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Burberry. British fashion is known for being outstanding and rebellious with bold, intuitive and refined styles in the houses of Burberry and VB. One of London’s most iconic fashion designers, Vivienne Westwood’s vision was born out of a rebellion against the hippie fashions of the Seventies. After creating a fashion empire with her strong ecological beliefs and her concerns about mass production, her influence left a global mark on the industry.

McQueen pushed fashion’s limits to a whole different extreme. His dramatic shows and characteristic blend of shredded leather and the famous ‘Bumster’ trousers made him one of Britain’s most influential designers to date. Both Westwood and McQueen shocked the fashion world with their punk style and use of safety pins, rips and zips.

According to the Business of Fashion 2016 ranking, London’s Central Saint Martins is by far the best when it comes to fashion education. The school’s MA Fashion Course has an international profile with an unrivalled record for sending the best professional talent into the international fashion industry. And they can back it up with alumni involved in the most prestigious fashion houses in the world, such as John Galliano, Lee McQueen and Christopher Kane. MA Fashion is the only degree course that shows at London Fashion Week on the official London Fashion Week schedule. This year’s catwalk show was scheduled for February 17th 2017.

Nevertheless, it is what emerges on the street that defines next season’s style. Fashion and street style became highly influenced with the increased prominence of music and subcultures over the past decades. Britain has one of the most innovative and vibrant youth cultures in the world. It has come to define the British identity and it has helped to make London the cultural and commercial capital of Europe. Especially influential eras in outrageous street styles were the 1970s and 1980s, inspired by British Punk Rock Band The Sex Pistols, who are considered one of the most influential acts in the history of music.

My home of the Netherlands is currently undergoing a swift and exciting change in the world of fashion while my adopted home of London is well established. I look forward to seeing how both industries progress in the future.