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By RABIA SITABI

Last Thursday the 10th of July aspiring Designer Olaf Hussein opened the Vodafone Fashion LAB program during Amsterdam Fashion Week. During his packed show at the Transformatorhuis he showed twelve complete looks that got accompanied by sweet tunes mixed by non other then Full Crate. Olaf Hussein is a young Amsterdam-based fashion label with one clear goal: producing top quality denim that will remain true to its classic style while simultaneously incorporating new and modern silhouettes. Subtle luxury and understated items set the tone for the brand. A small selection of the collection will launch for sale on July 14th on www.olafhussein.com. Breaking with conventional fashion-cycles, where a collection is shown 6 months/a year before release. We got the chance to have a quick one on one with Designer Olaf Hussein (top picture below) and his Creative Director Daniel Sumarna (bottom picture below).

Olaf Hussein - Vodafone Lab Program AIFW Show Olaf Hussein - Vodafone Lab Program AIFW Show

At the moment you guys are considered new rising stars in the Dutch Denim market, as fairly new players in this field what do you feel makes you stand out from other Dutch Denim Brands?

D: We see fashion week in a different way than other designers. Instead of showing a collection that won’t release for another year, we see fashion week as a platform to show what we are doing right now. That’s why we were in Portugal up until last week to make sure the detailing of this collection was just right, making it more a deadline for us as well. The difference is that we don’t treat denim as a heritage brand, instead we are using denims as a basis for a modern approach to our brand what goes much broader then only that.

Olaf Hussein - Vodafone Lab Program AIFW Show

As we all know Denim once started as a fabric used for apparel in mining and other hard labour, and has since then grasped an irreversible part in fashion history. The interest for raw denim and the Japanese denims have grown exponentially over the past two decades. Are they also part of your ‘purism’? And does history’s denim influence you as a designer?

O: I think if you design a product, you should know about the product, that is priority number one. My interest in the fabric (denim) is the main reason why I started making denims. For the first two seasons I was making garments based on the point of view that I could not find the right cut and fit or the right fabric, due to a lack on the market. My main interest lies in Japanese denim although I also use Italian denim, you can look inside the labels where the denim is from, I am not shy about it. We always have premium denims. The black fabric for instance is from TRC Candiani (world leading denim producer) from Italy, but the reversible double denim and the raw denims are from Kuroki Japan (Japanese Denim Mills). But our own modern approach is the most important part in this all. It is a long story but we would not say that we are a denim brand. We have denim as basis for our garments, we did two seasons of denim only, but now with Daniel (points at his creative director) we feel we’re stepping up to the next level. That’s also why we wanted to show the latest collection at Fashion Week.

Olaf Hussein - Vodafone Lab Program AIFW Show

Same question for Daniel: We heard about the purism of Olaf, but what is your take?

D: I am very brand loyal. We started with the two seasons of premium denim only, as Olaf told you, but now our focus lies in expanding the brand bringing it to a new level and taking on the accompanying challenges. But our start with denim is why we say “raised in Amsterdam”, because it all started here in Amsterdam. And we feel that denim is a good foundation to build the rest of our vision on. All the pieces you see in this collection are created from the perspective of using the denim as the basis. So Olaf spent a long time sourcing the right durable fabrics. O: And after I find them I show them to him (Daniel) and he will be like “I like it” or “ I don’t like it”. And that is also one of the things he brings to the table, a well needed point of view that is different than mine. So you could say that both your minds together make the perfect team for this label.

Olaf Hussein - Vodafone Lab Program AIFW Show

What are places, people or brands that for you stand as a holy grail?

O: I wouldn’t focus solely on Denim because we are broader than that. But to name one I would have to say Massimo Osti (Italian Garment Engineer) from Stone Island, because he is really interested in fabrics and from that point of view you can also go to denim but also much broader to a full collection, so he’s my God. D: I look at things more from a brand perspective, so I’d say Acne, that is a great example. I work in advertisement at the moment. Olaf and I actually do this on the side. This is a passion that escalated. And it takes more and more time. So now we are forming our main line, with the show and the visuals and online. We don’t just want to come up this year and disappear, we are really investing in a strategy to build on. Every asset both online and offline has to entice people to want to try and touch (and buy).

Olaf Hussein - Vodafone Lab Program AIFW Show

We at ViaHenri are very curious as to what may follow for these young talents as they develop in the future. The passion these two exude about their style and vision is very favourable for their cause and we look forward to seeing (and wearing) more of their garments in the near future! Launch of the collection online is July 14, keep an eye out!         

Images shot by Marjolein Scheer