Already renowned as the world’s denim capital and a leader in sustainable innovation with more than 2,600 fashion-related enterprises, the city’s start-up culture is now attracting more avant-garde designers than ever. Here’s our pick of the boutiques you should visit.
What If you’re waiting for lost luggage to turn up, or want to pick up something special for a last-minute occasion, there’s no need to purchase a whole new outfit. Instead, head to clothes-lending start-up Lena Fashion Library, the first of its kind in the Netherlands, where you can borrow instead of buy. It’s the creation of sisters Angela, Diana and Elisa Jansen, plus Suzanne Smulders, all of whom have previously worked in second-hand shops, so know a thing or two about giving clothing a new home.
The vibe Lena Fashion Library is all about sustainable dressing, and thoroughly believes that ‘sharing is caring’, so there’s a real community vibe here. It’s essentially a shared walk-in closet of quality vintage and designer items, with the goal of minimising waste and over-consumption.
Buy this Just passing through and really fall in love with a garment? Then yes, you can buy, not just borrow. Otherwise, local borrowers have a month to return rented items.
Westerstraat 174H, 1015 MP Amsterdam
What Housed within the Fashion for Good Museum (the world’s first sustainable fashion museum; worth a visit in its own right), The Good Shop features a series of carefully curated brands, all highlighting a thought-provoking theme that changes every four months. The ‘Reborn’ theme features cutting-edge brands that reduce the need to use new resources by upcycling.
The vibe Despite its museum location, it looks less like a gift shop than an upmarket boutique with a conscience. You’ll still feel a little like an art gallery tourist, but the hi-tech nature of the design within a heritage building in the oldest part of the city makes for a lovely juxtaposition.
Buy this Depending on the theme, you could find anything from vintage garments to craft bags recycled from old sails that come with a lifetime’s warranty.
Rokin 102, Amsterdam
What Funded via a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, Unrecorded opened its second retail space in mid-2019, following a successful launch of its first outlet (on Utrechtsestraat). With a ‘buy less, buy better’ ethos, founders Daniel Archutowski and Jolle van der Mast offer the highest quality, sustainably manufactured unisex garments, as well as footwear, natural perfumes, ceramics, books and magazines.
The vibe The minimalist whitewashed boutique interior is in stark contrast to the red-brick heritage-listed building, but loads of daylight streams in via the patio, keeping things upbeat rather than intimidating. You’ll mingle with earnest shoppers keen to buy durable, quality items made by skilled workers who are paid fair wages.
Buy this Go for one of the 100% certified organic cotton Oxford shirts or hoodies. You’ll get a cost breakdown of exactly what you’re paying for, in keeping with Unrecorded’s ultra-ethical style.
Runstraat 26, Amsterdam
What X Bank isn’t just a concept store – it’s also a huge art exhibition space showcasing pieces by more than 180 Dutch creatives, based within the W Hotel Amsterdam.
The vibe Outside X Bank you’ll find a huge black welcome mat inviting you into the ‘Vault of Dutch talent’. Head inside, and prepare to be blown away by the vastness of the space. You could easily get distracted by the ground-floor art gallery, but the retail fashion is on the first floor.
Buy this Alongside established names, you’ll also find emerging local labels, such as jeans from Denham, and United Nude’s range of footwear. But for something quirkily, distinctively Amsterdam, check out Chasin’ Royal Attitude: a collaboration between the label Chasin’ and the Royal Netherlands Navy with pieces made from repurposed uniform material.
Spuistraat 172, Amsterdam