LONDON — Buzzy accessories label Wandler made a name for itself with architectural shapes, saturated colors and all things design, and has taken that energy to the streets of Amsterdam to mark the opening of the city’s fashion week showcase.
As the world reopens, designer Elza Wandler decided to get experimental and breathe new life into her label by bringing the world of Wandler alive with an art installation and collection presentation earlier this week at Amsterdam Noord, an abandoned gas station in her hometown.
To answer the current need for positivity and a fresh start, she put her focus on the bright, feel-good colors for which her accessories have always been known, and christened her project Without Light There’s No Color.
“Light is positivity and brightness, so we started thinking about materials that bring light and went for mirrors and glass,” said the designer, who took over the gas station with Nikki Hock, an up-and-coming, local light artist.
Hock lit up the space in the brand’s signature apple green hue, the shade in which Wandler designed her first Hortensia geometric-shaped tote bag that grabbed the attention of the international fashion community.
“We’ve blended the vision of the artist together with signature Wandler elements to create something that’s abstract, unexpected, but still light and all about positivity,” Wandler said.
She noted that this is the first time she’s tried to bring her world alive outside of her Paris market showrooms and her product-focused work.
“We are mainly an accessories label, so I felt that I didn’t want to have a traditional show. We are all looking forward to enjoying experiences again and bringing people together in a safe way, so we just wanted to create a moment that would give you a good feeling,” she said.
Alongside the art installation, Wandler presented a capsule of apple green bags and shoes in fridges that were dotted along the station. They became available to purchase straight after the launch — marking the first time the young label has experimented with see now, buy now.
The launch was part of the opening of Amsterdam Fashion Week, which has been working to raise its international profile and measure up to cities like Copenhagen.
“At first I thought that as an international label, it didn’t make sense for me to take part and put in so much effort and time. But I realized that if we could turn it into a more international event, invite a small group of creatives, journalists or stylists, combined with the local industry crowd and buyers, then this could become something I’m really proud of,” said Wandler, adding that staying local makes financial sense too for young businesses like hers.
“Doing something local is crucial, especially if you’ve never done it before. I’d love to take over a gas station in New York, but we’re not quite there yet. We’d need to find an investor.”
The brand has been among the few young accessories labels that managed to hold onto its relevance in the last year, when the contemporary market became too saturated and buyers started favoring heritage names again.
Following the success of the Hortensia bag, Wandler has managed to introduce hot new styles every season, and add footwear into the mix. More recently she’s begun experimenting with new categories including homeware and leather and denim trousers, which will be launching later this month on most major e-commerce platforms.
“The core will always be bags but it’s nice to expand our world a bit. It’s always intuitive and about what feels good and what we can build momentum around. Today it’s leather trousers, next time it might be a perfume,” the designer added.