“We want to bring the consumer and the manufacturing process back together”

At the moment there are still plates in front of the windows, but at the beginning of July the first New Optimist store will open in a corner building on Amsterdam’s Bilderdijkstraat. Daily Paper is a few house numbers away, and Olaf Hussein’s shop is across the street. The store is ‘very visible’, says Xander Slager, co-founder of New Optimist, on the phone. And that is important: the store will also have a studio, where customers can walk in to see for themselves how and by whom their clothes are made.

New Optimist shows production process in its own studio

New Optimist sells sweaters, T-shirts and trousers with unique details, such as angled seams and double hood strings. Not only in design, but also in production, New Optimist does things differently than most fashion brands. Instead of producing far from home and working with long and complex supply chains, the New Optimist team, led by Slager and his business partner Nelleke Wegdam, does almost everything themselves – and within the country’s borders. Designing, cutting, sewing, ironing, washing… Only the fabrics, circular cotton made from recycled fibres, are produced elsewhere.

Most of those processes will soon take place in-store, in front of customers. “We want to bring the manufacturing process back to the consumer,” explains Slager. “Those two sides have been completely torn apart in recent decades. We want to tell the story of the materials we use, the products we make, and the people who work for us.” In addition to being a clothing brand, New Optimist is also a social enterprise, providing both regular jobs and subsidized workplaces for people with a distance to the labor market.

First store for New Optimist in Amsterdam

New Optimist was quite an exciting venture in the beginning, Slager recalls. The brand ran a pilot in a shop in De Pijp from January, and launched a webshop earlier this spring. “It was really a bit of looking at whether people would indeed be open to the story and would understand it,” says Slager. “But it caught on right away. The group of people looking for this is larger than we expected.”

Now the brand is ready for the next step: its own store for the long term. This also involves an expansion of the range, says Slager. “There will be more prints and more colors, and more T-shirts. Because we do everything ourselves, the range remains relatively narrow. But we also don’t want to produce two hundred different items, it’s about the story for us.”

Slager and Wegdam are also looking further ahead. Once the store in Amsterdam is up and running, there should be a second one, also with a studio. Butcher: “Preferably in a different place, so that we can reach a different group of people.”

Image: New Optimist

Source: fashionunited.nl by fashionunited.nl.

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