Students create own streetwear line
Organic cotton for a good cause
They came up with the idea while they were hanging out. Kick, Bass, and Jesse were talking about clothes shopping. All three guys love streetwear, but they couldn’t find what they were looking for. It either wasn’t nice enough or it wasn’t sustainable, something they feel is important. They figured they might as well start their own hip clothing brand while also giving back to the world.
They are suited to the task: Kick van der Niet studies international business, Bass Quadé does economics and business economics, and Jesse Albers studies economic development and globalisation. Reflorez was born. It’s pronounced ray-flaw-ray, the French way.
The name refers to the verb fleurir, which means to flower. It’s a nod to the green movement that’s becoming increasingly prevalent in the clothing and textile industries. ‘We want the clothing industry, and the world, to flourish’, Bass explains. They also came up with a pithy slogan: ‘Be StreetAware’.
The trio says just creating a clothing brand wasn’t enough. They want to set themselves apart. They want to give back. ‘We wanted our brand to do some actual good, so we can be proud of our work. We all enjoy sharing our success. We don’t just want to be a bunch of privileged students benefiting from our work. We want to help people who have less than us’, says Bass.
We want to help people who have less than us
This means they donate the proceeds of every sold-out collection, minus the costs and the funds they need to keep the company running, to a sustainable project.
Their first collection, which consists of two long-sleeved shirts and a polo shirt, will benefit a project that focuses on education. ‘Because we met at university’, says Kick.
They picked the Elizabeth Center in Tanzania, a school community that houses more than 350 children and their mothers. The Elizabeth Center turned out to be in dire need of a new water reservoir, and they’ll soon get one, paid for by Reflorez. So far, they’re at 64 percent of what they need: approximately 1,500 euros.
The clothes themselves are sustainable, and manufacturing is small scale. They want nothing to do with sweatshops in Thailand. ‘We were on a surfing holiday in Portugal and visited a local tailor’, says Bass. ‘After an earlier deal fell through, we wanted to look this manufacturer in the eye and talk to them about how to ensure the brand would succeed.’
It’s beyond our wildest dreams how much we’ve sold already
The trio met with the tailor in a local coffee house. After talking for an hour, it was clear they had faith in each other, and they sealed the deal. The family company from Braga makes all the clothing by hand, using organic cotton. ‘That means they use less water, no toxins, and they’ll waste less fabric’, says Kick.
It looks like they’re actually filling a need: sales have been good. ‘We were surprised at how fast it went. We’ve already sold nearly two hundred pieces. It’s beyond our wildest dreams’, says Bass.
All over the country
The guys run their business entirely from their student house. Bass creates the designs and manages the brand’s social media, Jesse takes care of finances, and Kick does communication and manages the website. The clothes come in from Portugal in big boxes, after which they’re repackaged individually into small boxes. The guys add a little personal note to each order.
The first few weeks, they sent out orders nearly every day, to all over the country. ‘The first batch of orders mainly came from Groningen, but we’ve also received orders from Delft, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, and other places’, says Kick.
We’d love to give a village a field full of solar panels
Their first collection was limited, but in July, they’re introducing their larger summer collection, which will include t-shirts and a baseball cap. They hope to expand their client base beyond the student population. ‘If you like the clothes and you can appreciate our mission, just buy our stuff’, says Kick.
Their biggest dream is to follow in Patagonia’s footsteps. This sustainable brand started out small but is now well-known all over the world. ‘We hope to become a brand that people recognise and if they see others wearing it, they’ll know sustainability is important to them’, Kick explains. That’s why the brand’s name and logo, a four-leaf clover, feature prominently on all clothing pieces, just like with Patagonia.
They’re already brimming with ideas for their next collections. ‘We’d really love to help other countries with making their energy more sustainable. It’d be great if we could replace a whole village’s generators and give them a field full of solar panels’, says Bass.
What’s going to be their next project? It’s a secret for now. ‘Keep an eye on our socials to find out’, says Bass. ‘But the project is a little closer to home. We’ll be working on it personally.’