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Inspiring, innovative and relaxed. The responses to the most recent edition of Modefabriek – 26 & 27 January at the Amsterdam RAI – have been unanimously positive. But even more than the updated platform segmentation, sleek design and extra attention to the food and forecasting experience, ‘soft values’ like recaptured solidarity, mutual appreciation and passion for the field were praised with superlatives. The latter is clear from the tremendous turnout alone, including a record number of international visitors.

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New and improved in every way
New-style entrepreneurship was illustrated in various lectures and workshops with a torrent of inspiring examples and hard facts. The specialism and confidence of the new ‘neighbourhood shopping’ concept, the distinctive personal ‘touch’ of each entrepreneur, the return to human dimensions and to genuine contact – we are, after all, social beings! – transparency on everything from price to production process and creative origin, and, of course, the unprecedented possibilities of the web and social media… a tour around Modefabriek made it immediately apparent that all the talk by the various trend watchers about the inspiring innovations was well-founded.

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Fresh perspective
The daring, completely updated re-grouping with the brand-new segments The Pavilion, The Frame, The Floor and The Square – containing the new platforms Salon and Stage – and the foregrounded platforms Blueprint, Mint, Chapter and Next – was initiated by Modefabriek in order to link up better with new developments in the market. “We were included in the changes and have no regrets,” says Willeke Klinker from Bestseller, with a total of three labels in The Floor and another four in The Frame. “Everyone has always followed a predetermined route, but this time they had to stray from the beaten path. Entrepreneurs once again find inspiration and genuine interest.”

At Gare Du Robe, Patty Borgo could be found with Illya Visser. The serene white environment of the Stage platform was very inviting. “It’s less confining than a stand, so customers are more easily drawn in. We’re here for new acquisitions and are extremely visible. The event has a much more international feel and there is considerable variety, with no segments overlooked.”

This edition, Blueprint was assigned a space immediately inside the entrance in Hall 1. At the front was Katsu Manabe from Japan Blue Jeans and Momotaru. He thought it was fantastic that Modefabriek ‘pushed’ denim to this degree. “Amsterdam was the first city in Europe where our products were sold, at Tenue de Nîmes.” This is his first time personally attending ‘The Amsterdam Trade Show’. “Momotaru is for denim geeks. There are plenty of them in the Dutch denim scene, but the market for authentic raw denim is ultimately small, for the simple reason that you ride bikes, and spending 300 euros on denim is a serious investment. We’ve adapted the fits since you like a tighter and more tapered fit.”

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Strength in number
In The Pavilion, a beaming Peter van ’t Veen from Juffrouw Jansen Amsterdam praised the special brotherly atmosphere and, after all these years, was pleasantly surprised: “Everyone’s saying it -this edition is super inspiring and innovative. We’ve had to switch gears due to the crisis and are now once again looking towards the future. It’s great to be doing business again and you get a real sense of more mutual appreciation. Modefabriek has made an important contribution to that new sense of solidarity.”

At Denham, for the first time with both men and women this edition and with the added attraction of a working studio, the same ‘we’ sentiment could be heard. Vivian Holla: “We have the perfect spot, right at the intersection of Blueprint, Chapter and The Frame. Modefabriek has made some strong choices, grouping together different labels. We’re pleased to be next to each other. It is now a truly innovative platform.”

Around the corner, Jan-Jaap van Gent (Circle of Gentlemen and Le Salon des Femmes) could be seen pleased as punch with The Square. “I think it’s totally incomprehensible that certain labels have chosen not to be here. The Netherlands is our home base and it is well covered, but we feel it is important to be here in order to, for example, enthuse and inform shop personnel. After all, it’s a service product.”

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Another clear trend is that we want to be impressed by a good story and the unique quality of products. True authenticity, in other words, whether nostalgic, totally now or an exciting combination of both. A few of the best bits:

In Blueprint, Jan den Hartog from Duke & Sons Leather could be found in a charming neo-nostalgic setting making his rugged accessories. He is self-taught in the art of leatherworking and serves his flock of fans around the world from his home and in his spare time. A happy man with a ‘priceless’ product. In the connecting hall, part of the Retail Future Home forecasting project, a young Hiroyuki Murase made an impression with a demonstration of his 400-year-old family tradition of textile processing, applied to modern items like scarves, cashmere jumpers and lampshades. Like the other examples above, his exclusive handmade label Suzusan can only serve a limited market and retailers need to earn the privilege of selling these gems.