A discerning Northern European aesthetic blankets Amsterdam while the city rushes by on bike, tram, car, canal boat and on foot. It was difficult to not feel frenetic yourself trying to cross a street in this pristine, picturesque, chilly & damp Netherlands metropolis. It was the second week in January, 2014 when I descended upon Amsterdam for the 5th in a series of globally produced Fashion Academic Colloquia, this one put on by the lovely AMFI, Amsterdam Fashion Institute. Entitled, “New Conversations in Fashion” in this emerging fashion city, which now hosts a Mercedes Benz Fashion week, the colloquia brings together fashion academics, industry people and those interested in taking the conversations, philosophies, theories and thoughts deeper over a two day event.
But first, the walk around town. I liken Amsterdam to a small town running like a big city. I arrived a day and a half early, to try to acclimate and fight the jet lag. I was immediately struck by the wealth in the city, historic canal townhomes of which I toured one, visited another which houses a privately run Museum of Bags and Purses and even spent a few hours in another which houses, on the ground floor, an incredible boutique spa, “City Street Spa“.
With large, tall and wide open windows, one can really see into the lives and homes of the Amsterdam residents. The sweet collectibles on display, such as below, are inviting, whimsical and timely to the season. If you are curious to visit the city, honestly this time of year is just as good as any other in fact it is not overrun with tourists and perhaps is a price reasonable time to visit shops and museums as many had big after holiday sales.
The Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, housed in a 17th century canal house, is worth the trip to the city, if you are into this sort of thing. The top floor starts with their beautifully preserved, displayed and highly informative descriptions of bags dating from the 16th century! If you visit their website, it is very user interactive and quite informative. You can view their collections so this is a great research site for fashion students or those studying accessories, history of accessories, I was completely mesmerized and fascinated to learn and see, bags women wore around their waist to carry sewing supplies.
The first bag shown below, is hand carved ivory over snakeskin and is the owner of the museum’s favorite piece, certainly it was one of mine.
This next bag hails from the 1950’s, when lucite became quite popular. It is no surprise, however, that these lucite bags were not around for long in terms of popularity they are very hard to carry, in such a hard shell, for every day wear.
Next on the agenda was the actual conference, in which I co-presented research with Karinna Nobbs, a Senior Lecturer and all around amazing mentor and friend who teaches Fashion Marketing, Social Media and such at the London College of Fashion. Our paper, “Social Customer Service” covered three companies leading the pack of doing social media customer service right: NEXT, Burberry and ModCloth.com Email me for paper information!
And the final piece de resistance on my visit to Amsterdam was to see how the University, AMFI, actually runs and manages a store of student and alumni fashion designs. The shop, which changes themes including wall color, design of the shop and theme such as the name of the collections, allows students and alumni to design within the theme. Each garment had a person’s name on a garment tag, and this theme of “Individuals” was really clean, architectural and covetable. They produced a runway show, and marketing students are always involved with the project for branding, design and obviously styling and fashion show production.