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Perpetual Reflection:
Camiel Fortgens B.V.

Over the last few years, a label from Amsterdam has been quietly gaining traction at its own pace. A graduate of the esteemed Design Academy Eindhoven, Camiel Fortgens maintains a distinctive outsider perspective in his approach. Untainted by the rules and constructs of fashion, his work is driven by the constant questioning of established practice and an earnest consideration for its influence on the user. Subversive in its modesty, the label is outlining a new genre of clothing and a subsequent way of life for the contemporary sphere. We spoke to Camiel while preparations for the upcoming season were underway.

The day to day

I don’t really have personal routines.
Going to the studio around 9h, by metro mostly, cycling takes me 45 min and it has been raining a lot.
Depending on what time I went to bed, sometimes I work late researching or thinking.

I always get excited by a good flea market or charity shop.
I go almost every week. You can find such beautiful pieces of time.
I get even more excited about implementing this into the business.
We’re working on ‘Museum of Things’.
M.O.T. will be a new part of our shop where we present these finds.
Books, prints, clothes, interior pieces, etc.. M.O.T. coming soon ;)

Initial development

The collections always just start, or actually they more or less never stop. Collections / thoughts / pieces / experiments keep growing and evolving.

So we continue experimenting in the next seasons. Some ideas sit and wait until the time is right.. As we need to work with the right people or skill. During the process, when adding the fabrics we give the collection more direction, and see if it makes sense as a whole. It’s a constant process of experimenting, looking, researching and reflecting.

Studio work

In the studio we’re with 3 everyday. Camiel, Tanja and Nina. We run the company together and help out wherever is needed. Then 3 or 4 people come in 1 or 2 days a week. We have the studio part where we develop all the samples. Tanja has a background in patternmaking and tailoring and she oversees the development of the samples. Nina is in charge of the production and sales part. I move in between when designing the collections. Everyone informs the other constantly.

 

On material

For me the fabric is one of the most important things. I spend a lot of time researching fabrics. Not only it’s defining the quality of the pieces, but for me it’s the paint I can paint with. Getting all the right ingredients is very difficult. Especially as we want to try and use only eco or in other ways ‘more’ durable materials.

 

Inquisitive attitude

Trying to break social norms, fixed patterns and thought.
No longer just follow what we know,
And how we've done things for ages.
But finding a new, true and honest way of living.
A way of life that rises and fits to this generation.
And is making use of modern techniques and discoveries.

I try to think from scratch,
With the possibilities and equipment we have,
What would be best and what can we do.

I think this is embedded in the DNA of the brand.
The imperfect stitching, uneven hems, fraying.
But also in doing our sales and working with stores,
how we have our shows and showrooms.

 

A modest perspective

Yes we try to be transparent. Showing the process, the imperfections, as they’re called. I don’t want or see the need to polish all imperfections out or even to create a fake / perfect / dream world around the brand or collections. Like we see mostly / in traditional fashion.

In my work I always try to show this transparent / the unpolished / the real.
Which I feel is lacking in all images and way of living.

We’re all just people with our own flaws.
I think it's important that this is reflected somewhere.
All around us everything is perfectly polished.

 

Our community

For us, luckily it isn’t about maintaining a bright / perfect image of the brand or of ourselves…
We’re a group of people trying to get these collections and thoughts out.
In the beginning it was just me believing in it, but overtime more and more people joined.
This is such an amazing thing. I really value this love and trust people put into the brand.
Without this the brand wouldn't have made it, or continued to the point where we are now.

Overtime we tried to stay true to what feels right, not looking at how other people do it, or how it’s done, and working with the means you have. The outcome is the personal, honest DIY feel you’ll find in the core of the brand.