Abigail Bakker has two sustainable clothing labels and a store, where the products look as beautiful as how they are produced. Her love for people and the environment started out on a farm in Vogelenzang. You can see this in her work, but also in her apartment in Amsterdam.
Tell us about what you do?
‘Together with my twin sister Lavinia, I run two sustainable labels: Geitenwollenshirts and Real Fake. We sell these brands, amongst other brands that are green and honest, in our own boutique on the Utrechtsestraat in Amsterdam: Geitenwollenwinkel. In our store you find clothing made of organic materials and without the use of harmful chemicals. Of course everything is also made in a good way. This means fair wages, no child labor, and normal working hours. Fair Fair Trade clothing, in short.’Why green and honest?
‘It's better for the environment, better for animals and better for the makers. And you also benefit from it yourself. 100% linen, cotton or tencel feels better and looks more beautiful. Luckily, the wonderful world of eco and Fair Trade is growing and becoming more fashionable, so who knows? Perhaps in the near future slave labor, animal welfare and environmental pollution will be history. '
You have a thing for organic fabrics and materials.
‘There is simply too much waste in this world. In fashion, something is regularly discarded because it's old, because it’s out of fashion or because it's such bad quality that it's already falling apart after washing it 5 times. Unfortunately, these products are not degradable because of the chemicals. That’s why I like recycled products and materials that get a new life. For example, a brand like By Mölle uses old jeans to knit beautiful new throws. In our shop we sell these throws like scarves or wraps. Ideal for when it’s chilly outside. I love the versatility of items. I also buy men's clothes for women.’
Where does your love for animals come from?
'I grew up on a farm in Vogelenzang. With horses, dogs, cats and sheep. That’s where our love for animals comes from. I was taught to be conscious and, especially, to develop myself.
What are your morning rituals?
‘I take a walk to the store. It’s a walk of about half an hour. Walking is almost meditative. I just pop in my earplugs and I'm in my own world. I look at all the people, and the things happening around me. About fifteen minutes before we open the shop, I make myself a cup of coffee. I enjoy drinking my coffee outside, across the street, in the sun. Even when there’s no sun at all, by the way. After this ritual, my day begins.’
Describe your ideal Sunday?
‘Preferably in bed. Or on the couch.'
Slow living. What does that mean to you?
'No fast fashion. No fast food. No fast anything. Let your heart speak, not your ego. Enjoy every moment. And most of all, respect all things around you.’
Is your home also decorated in this way?
"I buy a lot second-hand. But that can be difficult because I don’t own a car. Often the most beautiful things can be found in the outskirts of the country. In stores, I also check how something has been made. How important is sustainability for this brand? Do they use organic materials? Or support the Fair Trade Community?’
What are your future plans?
‘We are transitioning to the international market. We also want to open a men's boutique. There is a lot of demand for fair fashion for men. However, it’s hard to find. And when you do find it, it isn’t that good looking most of the time. I like the Scandinavian style. Simple, clean items.’
A final tip?
Remember you can make a positive impact as a consumer. Your choices change the world.’
Words: Ilse Beekhof