T-shirts have always been a great medium for expression. With the advent of digital design and printing, the opportunities for the smaller organizations or even individuals to create their own limited run of t-shirts has grown dramatically. You could argue that no self-respecting designer would be without his own bespoke collection. How important a role do they play in what you wear? And, let's face it, you can't beat that feeling of getting your hands on a really cool design by one of your favourite brands...
The thing is, with more t-shirts available, there has been a steady increase in the places you can buy them but as the saying goes, 'quantity does not often mean quality'. This is where my subject for this week comes in, Fresh Cotton - I've been watching them since I moved to the Netherlands and frankly, I'm impressed. Their plan is simple, sell design-led t-shirts from their website and so far, it's safe to say, it seems to be moving in the right direction. I went along to meet them and have a sneak look at their set-up.
Fresh Cotton is located on a small, lovely street in the centre of Amsterdam. Once you step off this typically Dutch street, you could be forgiven for thinking you are in London or New York - I don't mean to be rude, but it doesn't feel typically trendy Dutch - which is a good thing! I think the Dutch get it really right when they merge UK and US influences with their own incredibly-grounded and non-arrogant attitude to life. Anyway, I'm going off the point - Fresh Cotton... Inside I met John (28) and Jesse (29), who run the organization and Pelle (29) , who joined them last year. John and Jesse were two of the original founders (the others left the company last year) and have ploughed blood and sweat into making it work. John's background is in web development and management so he runs that side of Fresh Cotton whilst Jesse set up and owns the hugely-respected Revert store in Haarlem, so he has the retail and branding know-how. Finally, Pelle is one half of Amsterdam's ShapeSquad and applies his design skills to both the company look'n'feel and the product they sell. It's a solid team.
Since Fresh Cotton set up in 2001, their sales have increased steadily and this is reflected in the established clothing brands they currently sell on-line such as Stussy, Paul Frank, Volcom, Vans, Obey and X-Large. But it's Fresh Cotton's selection and support of limited run design-led clothes, that really stands out for me and has helped to convince me that they have a good eye for the newer (or undiscovered by the masses) talent. T-shirts by Rockwell (the very talented Dutch graphic designer Piet Parra) and I love Dust (a design studio in the UK who create amazing work) are usually very difficult to track down and being able to browse on-line through theirs and other talented designer's offerings (such as FreakyFacets, is a real selling point.
There may have a bit of a skating feel to the t-shirts on offer but Fresh Cotton's selection is definitely for the grown-ups - a relief for our ageing generation who still feel most comfortable in jeans, t-shirt and trainers. Let's be honest, don't you sometimes feel you look 30-something going on 16? It's a hard place to find yourself in fashion-wise, so maybe Fresh Cotton can offer you some much-needed relief? Plus you don't have to put yourself through the agony of shopping amongst teenagers...
Open: from Monday to Friday between 13:00 and 18:00hours