DUTCH TAKEOVER: Kassl, the buzzy outerwear label run by an Amsterdam and Antwerp-based industry collective, continues its upward trajectory in the retail world. Most recently the label made its debut at Selfridges’ Eastern Gallery, which also houses the likes of Comme des Garçons, Dries Van Noten and Sacai.
“We love what especially this space within Selfridges stands for. We feel it is a shopping destination for a customer that likes avant-garde yet durable clothing,” said Bart Ramakers, who is also behind the Amsterdam-based fashion agency Parrot, which has propelled many local Dutch brands to international stardom. These include Wandler, Bernadette, which is known for its romantic printed dresses, and Gauge 81, which is making a name for its pared-back, Nineties-inspired ready-to-wear, which major retailer players were quick to pick up from the label’s first season.
Also behind the collective are Ilse Cornelissens and Tim Van Geloven, cofounders of the conscious-luxe Antwerp-based concept store Graanmarkt 13; Christian Salez, former chief executive officer of Delvaux; Charlotte Schreuder, who works alongside Ramakers at Parrot, and Camille Serra, a former designer of the MM6 Maison Margiela line.
To celebrate the Selfridges launch, the brand mounted an in-store installation by Bob Verhelst, a graduate from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Art who was in the same class as the “Antwerp Six” and worked as Martin Margiela’s right hand for more than 10 years.
“Bob worked with Martin Margiela in the early days and now does scenography jobs for many fashion exhibitions and museums amongst the Momu and the Martin Margiela for Hermès exhibition,” added Cornelissens. “He shot our fall 2019 look book and hand-painted this installation, in the same aesthetic.”
Kassl quickly gained ground in the fashion world for going against the tide and building a product-centric, slow-fashion brand that focuses on a single product, the classic sherman’s coat, which is then given a luxury spin with glued seams, water-repellent finishes and trendy colors. Everything is handmade in the German city of Kassel and the idea is to create a timeless, “near-indestructible” staple.
Having won over the street-style set and many major retail players, including Matches, Net-a-porter, Harvey Nichols and Barneys New York, among others, the brand is now looking to broaden its scope with a handbag launch.
Yet its commitment to slow fashion will remain: “We do not just want to sell but be a good partner [to these retailers] and stay true to a sophisticated designer positioning, without becoming a fast-fashion brand. Above all we just want to offer a great product. We only bring a product to market when the entire team believes that it can stand time,” Ramakers added.