Behind the scenes in Dutch Fashion

Bridging the gap between independent fashion designers, craftsmen and fashion intermediaries

The fashion industry is facing significant restructuring. Independent fashion designers have to develop new strategies to compete and a growing number of designers seek to stay local, rediscover local craftsmanship skills and wish to exert a greater amount of control over the production process. This project provided a first exploration of the practices between independent fashion designers, local craftsmen, and intermediaries.

Within this framework, a significant number of designers seek to stay local. They try to rediscover local craftsmanship skills and wish to exert greater amounts of control over the production process, while infusing an artisanal ethos and emphasis on quality into their collections.

These locally focused strategies are accompanied by new ways to reach the (global) intermediaries and the market. In theory, digitalization and globalization allow to cut intermediaries and interact directly with the consumers, through for example web-shops. But the extent of such disintermediation remains unclear. Some scholars argue in favor of re-intermediation processes.

Aim of the project

The aim of this project was to provide an initial exploration of the entrepreneurial practices of independent fashion designers. The focus was to orientate on local production systems, the interplay between independent fashion designers and local craftsmen. And to look at the intermediation process from both a cultural economic perspective and a cultural sociological perspective.


During this project the Erasmus University Rotterdam and Hogeschool Rotterdam partnered with MARGREETH OLSTHOORN, NOT JUST A LABEL, Willem de Kooning Academy, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen and Het Nieuwe Instituut. Together they analysed the case of Rotterdam-based designers. The project kicked off in January 2015. It started with a symposium at the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum on the future of fashion in Rotterdam. This symposium was co-organised by Dr. Mariangela Lavanga. During the project, this symposium was followed up later by a series of meetings, enlarging the network of partners.

Project leader

  • dr. (Mariangela) M Lavanga

    dr. (Mariangela) M Lavanga

    Mariangela Lavanga combines insights from cultural economics and economic geography; from addressing the role of cultural industries in sustainable urban…

Funding and partners

  • Funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

  • Margreeth Olsthoorn

    Margreeth Olsthoorn



  • Willem de Kooning Academy

    Willem de Kooning Academy

  • Logo Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

    Museum Boijmans van Beuningen

  • Het Nieuwe Instituut

    Het Nieuwe Instituut