As part of our founder interview series, we speak with Elsien Gringhuis from Elsien Gringhuis to learn about the woman behind the label, and her slow fashion philosophy.
What is the core philosophy behind Elsien Gringhuis?
To make timeless, high end clothes in a sustainable way.
The style of EG is clean, chic and minimalistic with great attention for details. It’s modest, but outspoken. Because of its timelessness we have customers of all ages. From 20 to 80 and everything in between! And I love it to see how my style fits many ages and different types of woman.
Where do you find your design inspiration?
Nature and architecture is always a big inspiration for me.
Architecture because I love how things are build and constructed. I consider myself as a technical designer. I love smart solutions. And nature is an endless source of inspiration. It’s the only place where I can fully charge my battery. And it’s literal an inspiration. I use landscapes as prints or the bark of a dead tree I find in the forest. I also often used the sky as an inspiration.
Ethical fashion is an extremely broad topic. What is your understanding of ‘ethical fashion’?
True. We try to be as sustainable as possible on all parts of the chain. You have to think of every aspect and try to make the best choices possible.
How does Elsien Gringhuis embody your definition of ethical fashion?
This is briefly how we try to embody slow fashion:
FORWARD FASHION: Studio Elsien Gringhuis is high-end, sustainable label with a focus on the essence of clothing.
Timeless, clean, chic and minimalistic with innovative details. High end products with quality in cuts, fabrics and finish.
We design an on-going collection which we bundle in “Books”. These books will be complemented regularly by a number of styles. The individual styles remain as long as the fabrics continue to be available.
We follow our own rhythm.
MATERIALS: We work with a divers range of the highest quality and certified fabrics.
SUPPORTING TRADITIONAL SKILLS: We produce 100% in the Netherlands. In our own studio and with the help of skilled tailors. This way we support (local-) craftsmanship, that in many ways is about to be forgotten and stimulate economic growth of the local community.
MADE TO ORDER: All items are produced on order. Which means we never have any stock. In this way we save the environment from over-production.
LOW CARBON FOOTPRINT: By doing the production in the Netherlands, and sourcing all materials as close to home as possible, we save a lot of travel miles and carbon emissions in the production process.
Why is it important to you that your collection is made locally in the Netherlands?
This way we support (local-) craftsmanship, that in many ways is about to be forgotten and stimulate economic growth of the local community.
We lose our craftsman because most brands/labels produce in countries where labour is cheap. I also did this for a few years. But it felt unnatural. I was not flexible with deliveries and communication was often pretty difficult. You have to hire an agent, you have lots of travel costs and less control over the production. It was often a big frustration for me. It felt I lost the connection with my product. So I decided to do everything in my own studio with help of skilled tailors. And it works so much better! We might pay a higher loan for the production, but you save a lot as well like agent costs, shipping costs etc. And this way of working gives me so much satisfaction. I work very close with the tailors. And I also train them if necessary.
Do you think it is the responsibility of the producer or the consumer to create a more sustainable and fair fashion industry?
Everyone is responsible for the world we live in and everyone has the ability to make better choices. So, both producer and consumer are responsible. I often hear this argument that not everyone has enough income to buy sustainable clothes. But I believe even if you have a very small budget, you can still make better choices. And the truth is that cheap fashion is maybe cheap at the moment you buy it, but it’s not that cheap if it is gone after two times washing. We should cherish and value our clothes much more. It has gone a long way before it arrives in your closet! Buy less choose better I would say. Because things are made on the other side of the world people lose the connection with how and where it’s made. The awareness that everything is connected is crucial in the change towards a fair, sustainable and balanced world.
What tips would you give to someone who wants to shop more consciously?
Think about the long term! Ask yourself; will you still wear this piece of clothing after some years? Look for pieces that fit your style and body. Look for quality in fit and fabrics. Check where and how it’s made.
Learn to ask questions ;-)
What is the most worn piece in your own wardrobe?
My wardrobe is very minimal and I love all pieces. The funny thing is, since I am working with clothes day in day out I don’t want to think in the morning; oh what should I wear? I just want to jump in and start my day. And then it has to feel comfortable and also look nice. I’m a minimalist in everything. I don’t like to have much stuff. It makes me feel restless, even uncomfortable.
The bomber jacket is always one of my favourites, I wear this a lot. And the black wool cropped trousers with a turtleneck.
What advice would you give to young designers just starting their careers?
This is a tough question cause everyone has his own path.
I would say don’t let yourself dictate by the industry or do things because everyone else is doing them. Follow your own path. The industry is so boring most of the time because everyone tries to the same. Don’t be afraid to do it different and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They will make you stronger and more authentic.