At first it seemed a joke to Bravour, a shanty choir from Woerden. When the Dutch police introduced a new uniform in 2014, it turned out to be the spitting image of the choir’s uniform, dark blue with broad yellow bands across the chest.
“We’ve suddenly gained tens of thousands of new members”, the choir’s chair person Ad de Goey quipped in Algemeen Dagblad that year. “The local police also thinks it’s funny. Well, they’re all welcome to join as far as I am concerned.”
But in November that year the joke turned sour when the police let on that somebody was going to have to change their uniforms—and the somebody wasn’t going to be the police. Although the article doesn’t mention it, the police actually had the law on their side—impersonating a police officer, even if it is only by dressing like one, carries a maximum prison sentence of three months.
The shanty choir were all good sports about it. Not only did they come up with a new uniform, but on 26 February 2016 they invited the police choir from Gelderland to the Cross Church in Woerden for a joint performance. As Joe Cocker’s You Can Leave Your Hat On was played over the tannoy, Bravour members performed a striptease in which they tore off their old uniforms, revealing the new uniforms underneath. From now on the shanty choir will perform in dark blue with a broad, light blue wave.
See also: The Netherlands has finally become a police state
(Illustration: these people may dress like a bunch of entertainers, but they are actually Dutch police officers; source: politie.nl)
Tags: blackmail, Bravour, police, sea shanties, shanty choirs, Woerden
They say the Dutch are really big on denim, with big Dutch names such as G-Star, Denham, Scotch & Soda and Kuyichi competing with the rest of the world on the jeans front. Even American brand Tommy Hilfiger, which also makes jeans, has its international headquarters in Amsterdam.
The Dutch can dress quite informally at work as compared to the rest of Europe, making denim a common occurrence at the office for both men and women. There’s no need for casual Friday over here.
A new small-scale jeans brand from Chèvremont, Limburg called Grivec Bros could very well be a brand to watch out for. Twin brothers Marcel and Roger, 44, are huge denim fans and owners of Jeanpaleis in Kerkrade, Limburg, which they inherited at age 18 from their parents when they got divorced. Even though Amsterdam can claim to be the ‘jeans capital of the world’, the brothers explain that the first jeans were sold to mine workers in their mining area way back when, linking Limburg to the US as far as jeans go.
Grivec Bros jeans are made in Portugal and cost 209 euro, with names like ‘Cool Pete’ (above) and ‘Hower’. They just started selling them in their shop, and they will be available online soon. Marcel says he can’t wait to see someone with his name on their ass. Their motto is “we eat, breathe and shit denim!”
(Links: www.limburger.nl, www.euromonitor.com, Photo: Grivec Bros)
Tags: jeans, Limburg
After heavy wind and rainfall, Lil Jaunzems, 92 and from Amsterdam, goes out and collects abandoned umbrellas to make trendy bags out of them. When collecting umbrellas, newspaper Het Parool makes it sound like Jaunzems is out picking unwanted fruit that needs to be janked out of a branch or shell, saving the good bits to be brought home safely as raw material. People apparently look at Jaunzems funny when she’s out, like she doesn’t get that an umbrella is broken, but in true Amsterdam style, Jaunzems couldn’t care less and knows exactly what she’s getting up to.
Many of the bags have symbols of Amsterdam, from Heineken to cannabis and everything in between, so friends and family can ask for specific-looking bags. Before retiring Jaunzems used to sew jackets as a single mom with two children, but now she does this for friends and acquaintances for free and to pass the time.
(Link: www.parool.nl, some rights reserved)
Tags: Amsterdam, recycling, repurposing, sewing, umbrellas
A brand named Vlisco has long been in the business of selling wax print textiles in African countries such as Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria where these fabrics were used in traditional wrapped fashion styles.
Sellers used to tell stories about the prints to make them more attractive to their customers. The above Vlisco classic for instance, depicting birds escaping a cage, is called ‘Si Tu Sors Je Sors’, French for “if you cheat on me, I’ll cheat on you.”
The 1945 design ‘Six Bougies’ (six spark plugs) originally signified wealth, but in recent years it has come to mean a woman who can take on six men.
These very African textiles originally came from Indonesia by way of the Netherlands. Somewhere during the 1860’s, Messyness Chic reports, the uncle of a Dutch entrepreneur convinced his nephew to use a recently acquired factory in Helmond to produce batik, wax-dyed cloth.
Making batik the Indonesian way, by hand, took a lot of time, so using machines to do the work would cut down on the cost. Unfortunately for Vlisco, these machine produced textiles could not compete with the real thing and the Indonesians rejected them. However, the little flaws in Vlisco’s product appealed to West Africans because it meant every garment would be unique.
Although Vlisco only has stores in Africa, in 2014 the company created a special edition fabric to commemorate the inauguration of the new Dutch King.
(See also: Congo Story; photos: Vlisco)
Tags: Africa, batik, Indonesia, Vlisco
In November we had a bad university slogan festival, now it’s back to business with voting for the worst Dutch business slogans 2015. Last year’s winner roughly translates as ‘A carpenter hammers, a dentist drills… but we’re nicely located in Velsen-Noord’, which rhymes in Dutch, but that’s all it does. The 2013 winner, Jan De Cock uses “It’s De Cock that makes the man’ for his men’s clothing shop, which has actually worked for him rather than against him.
Dunglish seems to work wonders dumbing down slogans quicker than a scooter speeding over a bike path. A bakery boasts ‘Ik cake al naar je uit’, roughly ‘I’m caking (looking) forward to seeing you’, where cake and the Dutch ‘kijk’ (‘looking’) sound similar. My current favourites sans Dunglish is ‘Iedere paal gaat er in’ from a company that builds fences, which very roughly means ‘Every pole will go in’. A few of the contenders are straight up sexist but not funny in a 1970s kind of way, while some of them highlight excremental values.
The time to learn idiomatic Dutch is now.
Tags: Dunglish, misogynist, pun, slogan
They killed off Isis the dog on the British series Downton Abbey, named after the ancient Egyptian goddess who is getting poo-filled buckets’ worth of undeserved bad press for having the wrong name at the wrong time in recent history. And now it’s the turn of a 16-year-old girl named Isis from Enschede who definitely has no reason to change her name or be written out of anybody’s script.
Isis tried to order a pair of custom-made Nike running shoes with her name on it, but the online message was “Sorry, the ID you have entered does not meet our guidelines”. Heaven forbid fashion-forward terrorists want to advertise their crew on their shoes! The sadder part as that according to RTV Oost, Isis is being bullied at school because of her name.
Unlike representing the Ancient Greek goddess of victory, it seems that Nike is letting the terrorists win.
Isis (the bad guys) and Enschede have an odd link with each other, as this spring terrorists were using fake passports with ‘Enshede’ on them.
(Link: www.bd.nl, Photo of Isis, Egyptian goddess by Darla Hueske, some rights reserved)
Tags: Egypt, Enschede, shoes
In 2013 3D printed shoes by United Nude were unveiled during Paris Fashion Week, and this time ice block inspired shoes have been recently launched during Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out in Taipei, Taiwan. The shoes will be on display there until 28 September and feature a live 3D printing installation.
United Nude’s creative director Rem D. Koolhaas said that 3D printing allows them to experiment with new shapes much quicker than before without big development costs and for very small quantities. The shoes have eight-inch heels and were were printed on a CubePro desktop printer using plastic PLA filament.
(Link and photo: www.dezeen.com)
Tags: 3D printing, shoes, United Nude
Arnhem-based fashion designer Pauline van Dongen has created a parka for workers of the Wadden Sea World Heritage site, an association that has campaigned to protect the coastal area known for its sea walks.
The ‘solar parka’, an oversized jacket with a hood, was created for typical Dutch weather conditions and features detachable solar panels on the pockets for charging your electronics.
A thin waterproof and flexible solar panel created by specialist company AltaDevices is attached to one of the front pockets using buttons, and can generate enough energy to fully charge a smartphone after two hours of exposure to sunlight.
The coat’s fabric was created using yarn made from recycled denim that was unravelled and rewoven to make it more dense.
Van Dongen has also designed the phototrope shirt for running at night and a cardigan that helps with patient rehabilitation.
(Link and photo: www.dezeen.com)
Tags: parka, Pauline van Dongen, Wadden Sea
Mermaids have always been popular whether you believe the happy ever after Ariel version or, like me, your parents read you the original Hans Christian Andersen tale featuring daggers, blood and pain. You can also read the difference between mermaids and sirens as the two are often conflated.
Parents Leo and Denise Bergsen were looking for a mermaid tail for their daughter who wanted one and couldn’t find one anywhere in the country. They decided set up a shop called Dutch Tails in Spijkenisse, South Holland that caters to the mermaid inclined, including professional mermaids. They make and sell mermaid outfits and also sell ‘monovins’ and fun swim stuff.
The couple say that very few boys have asked for a mermaid tail and that besides the hordes of little girls ages 6 to 12 who want one, more and more teenagers and adults are asking as well. “Blue is the most popular colour, then pink and purple. Orange not so much.”
(Link: www.z24, Photo of mermaid by Jolante van Hemert, some rights reserved)
Tags: costumes, mermaid
After failing to make it to the semi-finals, Dutch singer Trijntje Oosterhuis did scoop up a Eurovision-related prize (not ‘price’ dear award people) in the end: the 2015 Barbara Dex Award for the worst dressed.
“She surprised the Eurovision audience with a navel-deep cleavage during the rehearsals, but then changed into a parachute-like suit. She gained 1324 votes. Number two was Serbia’s Bojana Stamenov with 605 votes. The top three is concluded with the UK’s 20’s couple Electro Velvet with just 397 votes. A record-breaking total of 4163 votes were cast this year.”
The cleavage dress was original, but detracted from her actual singing talent, a choice that could have gone either way. However, the black parachute of death she wore in the end also detracted from her talent. There’s no lack of design talent in the Netherlands, which makes one wonder why these wardrobe choices were made.
(Link: www.telegraaf.nl, screenshot YouTube)
Tags: dress, Eurovision, Trijntje Oosterhuis