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Interview with Erik Frenken of Avelon

The Netherlands is not really famous for it’s fashion, their industry, designers or brands. 

But I’m on the lookout for you lot, to tell you about the "hot" and the "not" within this tiny country on the mainland. 

For this Article I interviewed Erik Frenken of Designer Brand Avelon. Being a fan of their designs from the beginning, I thought it would be time to introduce him. 

Avelon has been around for a little over two years now and are growing stronger and more famous. Avelon claims a style of understated luxury with some roughness; for instance in the use of leather details and copper buttons.

Being the former head womenswear designer for 4 years at Viktor & Rolf, what would you say the biggest lesson is you took from that experience in your current work? 

"It definitely showed me how the business works; that being unique and having your own creative identity gives you an advantage."  

Viktor & Rolf are one of the few household names on the international fashion stage originating from Dutch soil. Are you aspiring a similar position for yourself or Avelon? 

"I adore V&R, their work and what they achieved but Avelon is a different story - we do completely different things. If we didn't I wouldn't have left V&R, for instance we work with a smaller team, the creativity is not just in the designs but also in how we build our brand. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. As in regards to their global brand awareness, aspiration is the right word." 

You studied at Central Saint Martins. Would you say there is a distinct difference in the approach to fashion and luxury between England and Europe? 

"I don't know about Europe but between NL and UK most definitely. In NL everything is secondary to the concept, fashion is a form of art and commercial thinking is sometimes frowned upon. In the UK creativity and commerce go hand in hand; that realisation starts with reality-based education. Fashion is an industry."

Avelon Menswear Spring/Summer 2014
Avelon Menswear Spring/Summer 2014

After doing some research I learned that people categorize you as a certain kind of enfant terrible. Are you hard to work with? 

"I don't believe I am, but I’m very passionate and strict. Avelon has a long way to go, I believe these are only the first few steps, shooting too much praise only creates an empty ego." 

Avelon does a few celebrity endorsements, but I found out you consistently dress upcoming artist Thomas Azier. What kind of similarities could you make between his style of music and Avelon or your design principles? 

"Thomas and I have similarities in our own personal stories. To follow ones own dreams and regardless of your surroundings believes, lead and conquer. I believe he does that, in that way he is an inspiration and we like to work with him."  

In the SS14 collection you are working with 3D lace. What would you say is the most inspirational development for you within production possibilities and are you looking to use those for Avelon? 

"Developments regarding Knitwear techniques, to me, are most inspirational. I don't know why exactly, it's very personal I believe. Unfortunately we can't always use them, as they are too experimental and often expensive to produce."

Avelon HQ
Avelon HQ

Your use of colour seems to be bang on every season. How do you decide on your pallet? 

"Well thank you for the compliment, as the use of colour is one of the things I'm most insecure about. I look at what I see around me on the street, what I'd like to wear and my friends; from there I try to push the boundaries in an understated luxurious way."  

If we look at this collection, what would be your definite favorite piece in it? And why? 

"I get good reactions on the graphic black and white prints, my personal favorite are the shorts with leather detailing - I believe menswear is moving toward a more formal look again so for AW14 We also incorporated turtle necks, blazers and jacquard pants mixed with relaxed fitted knits and jeans for AW14. When sports inspired looks meet trailered shapes that's what I wanted to go for this winter." 

You’re selling around the world and growing, yet you never show (runway). Why is that? 

"I believe that a healthy business is needed to support a show, those events are expensive! And I had to grow in to my own with the launch of my own brand. Off course I'm proud of every piece I make but a show means you truly need to dare. But who knows, I might feel daring next season."

Erik Frenken at work
Erik Frenken at work
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