Sustainable fashion and timeless etchings
This is the year of the ‘buy it diet’, the year the penny dropped in the fashion industry. The rate of consumption of fast fashion is being widely viewed as unsustainable. For the story behind the story, stop off in Amsterdam’s extraordinary exhibition space, Fashion for Good: “The world’s first interactive museum for sustainable fashion.”
Installed across three floors of an imposing Rokin Square building, Fashion for Good is not only fact-filled, it’s fun-filled; this lively, multi-faceted presentation borrows techniques from gaming to involve you in the action. Along the way you discover that subjects such as non-toxic fabric dye and textile recycling are much more interesting than you might have imagined There’s an on-site store featuring eco-friendly apparel, while in the museum’s Studio you can custom-design your own cotton polyester tee shirt as you’re walked through the eight steps involved in the process. The experience itself is designed to change the way you shop.
Having honed your sustainability sensibility, Amsterdam’s shops offer a chance to exercise it. Here are four shops to try: Nukuhiva. Sustainable fashion, accessories and shoes for men and women. Trendy urban brands include People Tree, Alchemist, HoodLamb and Nudie Jeans, Haarlemmerstraat 36, 1013 ES Amsterdam; Het Faire Oosten features local products and Fair Trade options in gifts, fashion, homeware and food, Oostpoort, Waldenlaan 208, 1093 NH Amsterdam; Charlie & Mary, a shop celebrating ‘true fashion’, where brands have been chosen for their use of organic cotton, hemp and recycled materials plus a range of sustainable jewellery using recycled silver and gold. Gerard Doustraat 84, 1072 VW Amsterdam; O My Bag products, which include weekend bags, passport cases, iPad covers and clutches, provide small communities in India with a sustainable livelihood; the leather used is tanned using no chemical products. Ceintuurbaan 117-H, 1072 EZ Amsterdam.
On a random stroll in Amsterdam one Sunday afternoon, I came upon the Art Market on the Spui, where I was intrigued by the elegant engravings of Wim Van Der Meij. They are evocative, original, easily transportable and reasonably priced – in fact, the ideal souvenir of a visit to the Netherlands as well as a striking addition to any room decor.
Delegates to the 38th ESCRS Congress in Amsterdam can expect to find Mr Van Der Meij at his stand in the Spui Art Market on Sunday 4 October from 11.00-18.00. Otherwise, contact the artist directly to arrange a visit to his studio in Zutphen, a picturesque 1,700-year-old village about an hour and a half by train or car from Amsterdam.
For an overview of Mr Van Der Meij’s work, including sizes and prices, have a look at his website, where you’ll also find his contact details: wimvandermeij.nl
3 to know
DON’T DO THINGS BY HALVES IN AMSTERDAM
My first day in Amsterdam I asked the concierge to book me a taxi for an appointment at ‘half six’ that evening and showed him the dinner address. He said “it’s not far… 5.15 should be fine”. We caught my mistake before he made the booking. In the Netherlands, half six means half way before the hour of six, not a half hour after six as it does to me. To add to the confusion, some hotels and restaurants, used to English visitors, use the phrase in the ‘English’ sense. When speaking of time, the Dutch use the 12-hour clock but without AM and PM. Phrases like in the morning, in the afternoon or in the evening clarify the time frame. In writing, both the 12-hour and the 24-hour clock are used.
DEBIT OVER CREDIT, WHILE CASH IS KING
You may find credit cards less commonly accepted in Amsterdam than in other European countries. Many restaurants and shops in the city don’t accept them at all. Some establishments add a 5% charge for card payment. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted but you will need a four-digit Personal Identity Number, so check you have one before you travel. Debit cards are widely used; smaller shops may prefer cash and you can top up your supply at ATMs with your debit card. Taxis accept debit, Visa and Mastercards, but if you would prefer to pay in cash be sure to have some smaller denomination bills with you.
CITY CARD HELPS YOU TRAVEL AND SEE THE CITY WITHOUT DELAY OR FUSS
Buy an I amsterdam City Card online before you arrive. Armed with this, you can hop on buses, trams, ferries and metros – even a one-hour canal cruise and a one-day bike rental – without stopping to buy tickets. You can also enter almost over 70 museums without delay or fuss – even the booked out Van Gogh Museum (you need to make a time-slot reservation though, which you can do up to two months in advance.) The I amsterdam City Card come in five time frames, from 24 hours at €65 to 120 hours at €130. Visit iamsterdam.com