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An Interview with Caroline Krouwels, one of Modefabriek’s Founders

On June 1st, 2022, Rachel had a wonderful conversation with Caroline Krouwels, one of Modefabriek’s founders, about the upcoming Modefabriek trade event on July 10th and 11th, 2022.

Modefabriek.nl is an online platform that connects the fashion industry and boosts business. The online platform is in addition to the physical event, organised by Modefabriek twice a year in Amsterdam. This event is a proactive and fashion trade fair that gives fashion professionals a chance to showcase their own range of fashion apparels and other related style accessories to the visitors of the show.

Screenshot 2022 06 16 at 15.33.36
Some of the brands that will be at Modefabriek: J Label, Rifo and Armedangels (left to right).

RethinkRebels collaborated with Modefabriek this year to curate the perfect selection of sustainable designers and brands for their new platform, The Sustainable Stop. We will also be attending Modefabriek in July, and we’re very excited to be a part of the trade fair.

Rachel and Caroline discussed why Caroline, alongside three other designers, founded the bi-annual business-to-business trade fair, what we can expect from the trade fair in July, her favourite sustainable brands, and much more.

Key Information from our interview:

Caroline Krouwels Bio:

Caroline Krouwels began her career as a designer for the fashion label x-As, where she developed her creative skills as well as her business drive. In 1996, she established her own design studio, CK Concepts, where she designed collections for clients such as HEMA, Claudia Sträter, and the Bijenkorf. In the same year, she co-founded Modefabriek, a bi-annual business-to-business trade fair that has grown to become one of the leading fashion trade events.

What encouraged Caroline to start Modefabriek?

With the four of us, I was with Anne Claire at the fairs, she had a shawl collection and I was creative director X-As and in the NL there was nothing. Lucel and Rick had DNa, leather brand and we missed all four of us on a platform. We started in Westergasfabriek, it was very rough and the location was originally a circus. We started with 21 brands.

What can we expect at Modefabriek this July? 

First of all: a lot of happiness after 2 years of lockdowns to have a fair again. Everyone will be in the same energy, we live in a  strange world. We had a lot of struggles etc. Impossible situation in EU. We are looking forward to meeting, seeing, and doing business. We have specials.

Big focus on sustainability: very exciting. We had MINT many years ago, and our fair is also made up of reused materials, of which we built a fair. Sustainability is normal for us. In the normal fair business that’s not very common. The Sustainable Stop is going to present all parts of sustainability, we show suppliers, young brands, established brands, and experts such as RethinkRebels. 

Beautiful outdoor young brand environments to give them a platform to show their designs, keep possibilities for them to continue what we started in 1996. Always. In front of the RAI: area with young designers, talk with them. Very positive of the fair. Store inside with a beautiful concept: we are working on.

What is Caroline’s personal vision on sustainability for Modefabriek?

One of my best friends = Heleen Hulsmann- she bought a salon. I brought old pieces to her, I already recycled my own wardrobe, and I brought them to her store. Also during covid, I redesigned my own wardrobe. I’m also addicted to fashion, Jacquemus sandals. Vestiaire Collective etc. But it’s nice to recycle your own wardrobe. Bedlinnen is a sustainable brand, house in Italy: I collect almost everything 2nd hand. It makes it personal. 

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What is the aim of ‘The Sustainable Stop’?

We really like to help our brands who are so connected with us (Modefabriek). I would like to help and support them because as everyone knows, we have to make production LOCAL. We love creating something unique, demonstrating suppliers and materials, and assisting clients in getting off to a good start in terms of sustainability.

In ‘The Sustainable Stop,’ how can brands present themselves?

For example, designer Anita from the rainwear brand MAIUM does not think about sustainability: they live it. It’s in their DNA. It’s also nice to connect the old brands with new brands and share the knowledge they already have. For me it would be a dream to have a fair next to the Modefabriek to connect brands and suppliers from local countries around us.

What does ‘The Sustainable Stop’ offer to retailers and buyers?

Due to Covid, we didn’t see each other for a long time. We have made it extra special for retailers, factories, and buyers this year. For the retailer, there are lots of sustainable brands, talks and workshops. That’s all part of ‘The Sustainable Stop’. We also have the supply chain, with expert desks, and factories: I would like to make that part bigger. It’s a dream! We have to do more, more, more about that. Modefabriek has existed for 25 years, we can do this, we have a big network and a beautiful reputation. 

Where does Caroline see Modefabriek in 5 years?

We will grow again, step by step, this year we will make it more compact. We would like to add more sustainability, men, young brands, we like to be the connection between suppliers and brands one way or the other. This will be the route to take. We work with CIFF (Scandinavian fashion fair) and White (Italian fashion organisation) to explore this kind of collaboration much more. But in the end we would like to be a good fair for the brands they can meet, do business and show collections. 

What are some of Caroline’s favourite sustainable brands?

Maium, Vestiaire Collective, rental, reuse, recycle. I love MAIUM because they focus on 1 item: raincoats. Mono brand: you can dive more into sustainability and it’s less complicated. Pangaia, I also love. They started with jogging. I have a lot of them. My linen bedlinen: yumeko. I love this. And of course vintage.

Do you want to find out more about this year’s Modefabriek trade fair? Visit their website for more information on which brands will be present, The Sustainable Stop, talks and workshops, and much more.
Also, read the article on their website to learn more about ‘The Sustainable Stop’ and how RethinkRebels assisted in developing it.

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