Dutch designer group Reconstruct Collective launched its seventh collection with an aim to create garments that are more wearable. While only sales will tell if customers thought the same, the theme of the collection was undeniably relatable - after all, who hasn’t sat through the boredom of a never-ending workday?
“The Boring Office” was one of five work-related themes to greet visitors at the start of the brand’s AW20 presentation on Saturday evening at Iso-Amsterdam, an old and disused industrial building turned into a working space with occasional public events.
The clock stood still in the sterile office setting, where models, mostly in grey, deconstructed and then reconstructed suits, sat on chairs and tables, staring listlessly as if into a void, a deep abyss of ennui. One model apathetically crumpled sheets of paper, feeding a growing mass on the floor. While the setting fully conveyed what boring means, the clothes certainly didn’t. One oversized blazer, named ‘Pull it together jacket’ could be literally tied together at the waist with the brand’s signature drawstrings. Another jacket was missing a piece under the breast, which was instead sewn to a pair of matching trousers.
Social statements meet forward-thinking fashion pieces
Reconstruct Collective started out as a very conceptual brand, which helped it gather attention from press and artists, but now the label hopes to reach a more broad base of customers. “Nowadays, we want to be a more wearable brand,” said Alyssa Groeneveld, one of the five members of Reconstruct Collective. “We see people, who are close to us or in Amsterdam who are really inspired by us, they always say: ‘I love your clothes, but it’s too much.’ Now we really want to reach our target group, to see it in our clothes.”
Nevertheless, concept remains a strength of the Reconstruct Collective, as the fashion-show-meets-art-installation presentation of its AW20 collection demonstrated. Ironic social statements meet forward-thinking fashion pieces throughout the show with themes such as lab, burnout and ‘vrij mibo’ - the traditional Dutch office drink on Friday.
“We invent concepts before we come up with a collection. We always base our stories on five characters because we’re five people,” explained Groeneveld about the collection titled the ‘Redundant 5’. “This time we thought the office was cool because we could create five really different characters and bring them together because they work together”; a reflection of the way in which Reconstruct Collective was founded in 2015.
Reconstruct Collective was originally founded by nine friends who studied together at the art school Wilhelm de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam. When they heard in their final year that there wouldn’t be any graduation show, the group decided to stage their own show using money collected through a crowdfunding campaign.
Since then, Reconstruct Collective has gone on to show at international fashion weeks such as Paris and New York, and after receiving some critical acclaim, the company now feels it is time to prove itself on the market.
Reconstruct Collective’s current designers are each responsible for a different aspect of the brand’s identity.
Laura Aanen is the photographer and in charge of social media. She does the castings together with Groeneveld, who serves as creative producer and head of marketing. Michelle Lievaart is in charge of the interns and production and Kim Kivits heads sales - she is also the graphic designer for the label. Sanne Verkleij, the head of textiles, is also responsible for finances.
The label, which is currently stocked at JIP by Margreeth Olsthoorn in Rotterdam and ENG concept store in Shanghai, has decided to show its latest collection in Amsterdam to build its following.
“We have been around the world and made our marks everywhere we wanted to,” said Groeneveld. “But we thought let’s go back to Amsterdam because we see that’s where our family and friends are, we really wanted to do something for this city.”