1-on-1: Studio ALOT

For this entry of our 1-on-1 interview series, we speak with Studio ALOT founders Nathalie Boeri van der Zee and Layla Brizzio Brentar about the goals behind their all-purpose sustainability minded fashion project…

You met each other at fashion school where you slowly developed into a partnership. What’s your working relationship like, and what do you each bring to the table?

When we met there was an instant connection over snacks on a 12 hour bus trip to London. Through our friendship we became very present during each others’ creative process and we slowly realised that our goals as creatives were the same. This led us to think that joining forces could take both us and our ideas to the next level.

Being able to work with someone that almost reads your mind means that an idea can start with one and finish with the other. Our skills are the same, but putting our two brains together, and having a double dose of excitement, is what has made ALOT possible.

You reference the fact that you’re both Dutch-Brazilian. How does that mixed heritage influence your work?

The fact that we share the same heritage makes our values and way of thinking very similar. Our background forms the base of our work. We focus on both cultures from different perspectives. This collaboration made us both realise how much our contradicting cultural backgrounds actually shape our work. We describe our aesthetic as urban with cultural influences that embraces the notion of the ‘child of the world.’ However, our work has a strong feminine touch, is daring with colour, and embraces texture, and these elements come more from our Brazilian side. On the other hand, our Dutch background influences our work in a more straightforward way, and keeps us open minded.

Talk a little bit about the core concept of ALOT – it’s there to demonstrate that recycled and sustainable fashion can be high streetwear, too?

The core concept of ALOT is to show the possibilities of sustainability in fashion today. For example, for the Holy Stamppot project we developed a mirrored collection. Every garment was produced in two ways. Firsly, with any leftover stock we acquired from production stage all the way to unsold garments. The second half of the collection was produced entirely with sustainable materials.

The intention is to create a cross reference in which sustainable outfits become the ‘norm’, our production methods could be scaled up. And overstock garments become ‘special’, as they have an added value when turned into unique pieces such as in our collection.

Our focus is high street wear not only because it speaks the most to us but because we believe this sector can effectively influence change.

Do you think there’s stereoptypes around sustainability minded fashion that ALOT is trying to change?

Sustainability in fashion should be a given, not a promotional asset. That is our motto. When you look at our collection it does not scream sustainability – at least we hope it doesn’t! We praise every brand that is trying to do anything to influence change within the fashion system, but we approach it in a different way. Sustainability, for us, is not necessarily a selling point.

How do you go about designing your range, do you have ideas in mind already, or do you let the materials you use guide you?

The design process was a continuous challenge as we did not know what we would be working with eventually. After the concept was born, the first idea for a range was there but it continuously changed until all the materials were set. Therefore, it comes from both directions: there is a need for an idea for a range to set a certain structure but the materials definitely guided us through the development of the collection.

Your apparel is still hand-crafted by yourselves, for the time being anyway. Is this ‘cottage industry’ element an important part of the creative process for you?

To some extent making things yourself and having the freedom to experiment adds to the creative process. But our idea for ALOT is not restricted to only developing our “own” collections. We would like to tackle issues within the fashion industry and start conversations through collaboration. For instance, working together with existing companies and finding different sustainable solutions could also be an interesting path for ALOT as a project.

Your first collection was named after the classic smashed Dutch dinner dish Stamppot, why this name?

Holy Stamppot is the representation of our foolish selves. With a certain naivety and humour, there is the hint of a spiritual background which comes from our Brazilian sides, and includes a touch of religion and superstition.

At the same time, that clashes with the more liberal Dutch side that gives us the need to break free from traditional preconceptions. Both put together create the ‘Holy Stamppot’. We were looking for a funky and catchy name that would fit our brand vision and this was our way of bringing our humour into this collection.

We spoke to another Amsterdam based sustainable fashion brand, PERMANENT, recently. Do you think this trend for conscious fashion is here to stay?

WE DON’T SEE IT AS A TREND. We hope avocados don’t disappear, either. We see the “trend” as a first step to create awareness and make sustainability the norm of the future of fashion.

What’s your plans for the near future, where will ALOT go next?

We are going to continue seeking collaboration. We believe this is the strongest way for our industry to move forward and we are open to new adventures.