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April Edgar

CAES founder, Helen de Kluiver shares her perspective on the fashion industry.

CAES isa Dutch slow fashion brand who believes in timeless garments in durable qualities.

We recently had the pleasure of collaborating with them on a design for their magazine and took a moment afterwards to catch up with the founder, Helen de Kluiver. She takes us into the CAES world, sharing why she left her job designing huge collections to start the brand and her vision for the future of fashion.

What made you want to start your own brand and take part to the slow fashion movement?

Before launching CAES I worked as a designer for many years on huge collections that had to fall within a strict framework of (seasonal) styles, budget and time, as is the case with most fashion brands. But for me personally, it didn’t feel right anymore. I had a strong desire to focus on quality and designing items that would not be limited to one season only. To be able to really give my full attention to each piece, take my time and really love the end product. That was my dream. I toyed with this idea for some time but was finally brave enough to take the first steps at the beginning of last year. I envisioned smaller collections in “editions”rather than seasons, with qualities and colours that would remain timeless and wearable year-round.

The first thing I did was look for the right suppliers who shared my vision. We ended up working with family owned companies in Portugal so we can visit them often and closely follow the production process because everything is made in-house. They are all very dedicated and truly care about their people. To me, this is at least as important as the quality of their work.

The actual start of the brand was a very exciting time for me. I had of course worked in the fashion industry for along time so had many talented people around me that I could turn to for advice. I also noticed that my story and vision excited people – it’s as if they were all waiting for someone to fully commit to slow fashion design in this way.

The origin of the name CAES is two-fold. I wanted it to embody the importance I give to clothing items; the way they are worn close to your skin every day, protecting your body like a case. It’s the reason I value high quality materials with a luxurious feel. Secondly,CAES is phonetically the same as my father’s name “Kees”. He was a great business man and true inspiration to me, and sadly passed away when I was a young girl. This is my way of honoring him.

Do you think the current situation will have an impact on the fashion industry? If yes what kind of impact or improvement?

In my opinion, there has been an increasing awareness for all environmental problems our planet is facing. It’s not just that the problems are getting worse, more people seem to care and take action. But in the fashion industry there is still a lot of work to do. I think we shouldn’t have to produce these huge collections so many times a year, and at the lowest possible cost. By buying better but fewer things, people can contribute to solving the problem while still enjoying fashion.

Another great development is how consumers have gotten smarter by being more informed. They are realizing the impact they can have by their choices and demand transparency from companies.Where do they produce and how? We are already very aware of the food we put in our bodies and I think the next step should be awareness for what you wear on your skin every day. Of course, there is a long way to go but we are very committed to contributing to this important movement.

“I noticed that my story and vision excited people—it’s as if they were all waiting for someone to fully commit to slow fashion design in this way.”

What was the idea and the purpose behind the creation of the magazine?

Because I get so much inspiration from different aspects such as art, nature but also the diversity and talents of people. That’s why I wanted to create a world and not just a clothing brand, more a way of living.
Then we’ve decided to work with women we admire, each with their own talent and story. They all made their own image, with an item of CAES, without giving thema frame. It was so nice to see what came out of it.

Why did you want to collaborate with Trashure Studio for this?

For the magazine, I really like the aesthetics of Trashure Studio and felt we were a super good match. Besides that, Sander and Sacha are such nice people to work with. It's so great to work with lovely people who share the same vision.

Campaign collection shot by Umit Savaci.

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