Benjamin Schiffer

The Dutch capital is known for its rich cultural heritage, liberal attitude and artistic legacy. But how about its fashion? According to Danie Bles, owner and creative director of AFW (Amsterdam Fashion Week), it “is very much about young emerging talent, sustainability and diversity within the show formats and on the runway”, she explains while we grab tea on the terrace of Hotel de L´Europe – one of the key locations during the semiannual happening. Engaging, interdisciplinary and avant-garde presentation formats such as Lissa Brandon´s movie launch at the Eye Filmmuseum including pre-meditation session or Max Zara Sterck´s incorporation of a contemporary dance performance are surely a breath of fresh air compared to the almost standardised runway formats that can be found in Paris or Milan. “I don’t like too many rules”, Bles continues. With her work for Amsterdam Fashion Week, she rather wants to give designers the foundation to do what they are best at – exploring their creativity to the fullest regardless of any conventions. Amsterdam Fashion Week opts for uniqueness sticking to four distinctive core values: Emerging talent, an awareness for sustainability, unconventional presentation formats and lastly its inclusive approach. However, what strikes the eye even more is it ́s understanding of community. PussPuss took a closer look at how three of Amsterdam´s talents engage, celebrate and involve their communities.

WANDLER x David Surman
“Art is our beating heart, and collaboration is our pulse “, explains Elza Wandler, founder and creative director of contemporary luxury brand Wandler. Together with London-based Artist David Surman the two creatives partnered up and took over the Stigter Van Doesburg gallery. Surman covered the gallery in what reminds us of cave paintings. However, we certainly don’t find any prey animals on the high walls, but rather the two‘s favourite pets – dogs. Surman sweepingly painted the different silhouettes in optimistic, uplifting colours- another commonality of the two. As the dogs found their new home on the gallery walls, their identities also emerged. They transformed into entertainers, companions, protectors, and guides. While these creatures seem engrossed in their buoyant game of chase, their eyes reveal a certain gravity. At the night of the gallery opening they gaze from the walls, directly at the observer – a crowd consisting of friends of the brand, art lovers and creatives. After the intimate opening, the gallery remained open to the public. The collaboration reflects Wandler’s belief that art needs to be made more accessible and artists should be provided with a platform. Showing that a gallery can be a place where anyone can feel welcomed, Wandler’s Art Pop-up will be open to the public from the 31st of August.
New Amsterdam Surf Association
Elements of skate culture have continuously made their way into fashion in recent decades. Can this be just as true for surfing? New Amsterdam Surf Association definitively establishes that surf-cool is the new skate-cool. Founded by Paul Zeper, a former windsurfer, the label plays with references from its birthplace – the Dutch coastline. Unlike the tropical settings usually associated with surfing, Zeper and his surf crew are used to mostly dealing with brown waters, muddy coastlines, cold water temperatures and lots of wind, but it will never withhold them from practising the sport they love most. To the contrary, they like the way these conditions leave room for only those who are truly passionate about surfing, no matter the circumstances. Zeper´s team decided to showcase their latest collection with an immersive installation imitating those challenging weather conditions. The guests, consisting of fashionistas and sports enthusiasts, collectively experienced a thunderstorm in a dark room that felt surprisingly realistic. A phone call can be heard from the rumble of thunder, “It’s clearing up!”. The next moment the guests are standing in an installation of sand dunes and the sound of the sea inviting guests to explore the collection of sweaters, cargo pants and water repellent jackets in rigid colours and clean graphics.
Ruben Jurriën 
The winner of last year’s prestigious Lichting Prize, generously showered his community in love and emotions. Designer Ruben Jurriën is dedicated to making the fashion industry a more inclusive and fun world. “As a big boy, I have always felt excluded from the fashion industry. Most brands stop at L, XL if you’re lucky. I don’t want anyone to feel excluded from my brand”, he tells us right after the show. His clothes are for everyone, and this was particularly reflected on the runway. The young designer involved people from the local LGBTQIA+ and the ballroom scene modelling his designs, his friend ́s children and even his father made it into the spotlight wearing his joyous creations. Their interaction with the crowd in combination with the light-hearted music and the pink lighting provoked emotions of joy and excitement. Not only his cast convinced, but also his work approach making his garments either one size fits all, or adjustable to one’s own size – A brand that scores with accessibility and acceptability.