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    Mikel

    12 Jul 2020

    Text by Mikel

    ØLÅF Citizens: Olaf Hussein

    12 Jul 2020

    People around him would probably describe him as “quite the character.” Olaf Hussein is always on, always distracted, but somehow manages to get things done that others don’t. In this episode of Citizens, we talk with the Founder and Creative Director of his namesake label, owner of this platform: Olaf Hussein.


    Olaf, I know you as someone who’s always doing everything at once, where do you find time to relax?

    “I do, and I don’t. As the owner of the company, I am actually never not working but I always make sure that I make the most of my downtime."

     

    Is it possible for you to relax?

    “Not right now, I am always on my toes waiting to take the next leap. Doing nothing makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel as if I’m doing something wrong as I am convinced that being stagnant means no progress. I’m always hard on myself to do better or to do more. I blame it on my ego. I have yet to find an answer to that.”

     

     

    Is there a goal you’re working towards?

    “I would love to be the new G-Star. Not aesthetically, but the size and international name they’ve built is unprecedented in the Netherlands. I aspire to reach similar status."

     

    Where does this drive come from, you think?

    “Growing up I was told that only hard work gets you far in life. Nothing else. My family and I moved from Somalia to a small village in the Netherlands and I had to adapt rather quickly. With how the education system is set up here, I knew that I didn’t want anyone else to determine my future for me like the majority of the kids that I grew up with. I needed to prove to myself and my family that the move was worth it.”

    What sparked your interest in owning your own fashion business?

    “Growing up I have worked part-time in various fashion retail stores. I vividly remember the day I realized that I had all the tools to create my own brand. Keep in mind, this is pre-internet and the only resources you had were the ones you heard via friends or saw with your own eyes. I was obsessed with everything and anything to do with fashion.”

     

     

    I think you know more than just fashion.

    “Yes, my actual studies had nothing to do with fashion. In fact, I graduated from the University of Amsterdam with a master degree in Communication Science. During my studies I was working part-time at a shop called 1store in Amsterdam, where I came in contact with the VP of Menswear at Tommy Hilfiger. I had a good connection with him so upon graduating I applied for a job at the Marketing department. He advised that design would be a better fit than marketing knowing a bit of my background. I ended up working there for almost 3 years. ”

     

    You started Olaf Hussein in 2014 as a denim brand. Right now, the brand seems to be have evolved to something more than just a local denim brand. What changed?

    “When I started the company the market was already saturated with commercial denim brands with heavy vintage influence. I wanted to bring to the market something more modern and different. Within the last decade the market had shifted from being denim focused to a mix and match of different fabrics. We also realized that to gain a bigger audience you need recognizable graphics. It so happens to be that graphics work better in non-denim products.”

     

    Is that also why you don’t like to be categorized as streetwear?

    “Streetwear is such a generalized term now. I am under the influence that it means something else than what I stand for as it is so vague.”

     

    ØLÅF QuickSnap Disposable Camera.

     

    But you do make caps and hoodies.

    “Yeah, but nowadays that doesn’t necessarily make it streetwear, does it?. It all depends on how you execute it.”

     

    Besides the shift from denim to “non-streetwear”, the last year has brought some other changes for you and the company with a new store, website, co-owner, and platform. What was that like for you?

    “Hard! I’m very difficult to work with. When I have an idea ( even in the middle of the night), I often want it executed immediately. I often forget that not everyone’s brain is on work mode, even in their sleep. I am fortunate to have a dedicated team and business partner who still enjoys working with me (hahah let's hope this is still true).”

     

    Sunflower sketches.

     

    Fashion is an industry that is known to be extremely fast paced, how do you keep up?

    “I make sure my internal battery is charged (mind and body) at all times making sure that I don’t lose sight of the end goal and whatever it takes to get there.”

     

    You just released a collaboration with Ace & Tate that sold out immediately. When is a collaboration successful in your eyes?

    “It is a good collaboration if both parties are able to utilize their strengths to create a cohesive product. It is fun to see unexpected combinations come together.”

    First ØLÅF face.
    Why did you start with that monthly newsletter?

    “I was in talks with someone from Het Parool, a local Dutch newspaper, about having a monthly column discussing relevant topics. That didn’t happen, so we decided to do it on our own platform instead.”

     

    What were the reactions so far?

    “Surprisingly awesome! It sparked interesting conversations between the consumer and myself and it even allowed us to built a personal relationship with our audience.”

    Part of the team.
    What has inspired you lately?

    “PEOPLE aka CITIZENS. With everything that is going on in the world, people from all different ages and backgrounds are coming together for equality and fighting for a better future.”

    03 Jan 2023

    ØLÅF CITIZENS: GLORIA LANDENBERGER

    03 Jan 2023

    Gloria Landenberger is an Amsterdam-based designer, creative director, ceramicist, and the founder of the interior label 2222STUDIO. Firmly rooted in fashion and interior you’ll always find her shifting between both worlds. From leading the creative direction of a German fashion and interior brand to creating one-of-a-kind sculptural works in her studio, her projects all arise from the same creative drive and vision.

     

    How did you get into fashion?

    “I studied industrial and fashion design in Berlin and Paris. Since then I’ve worked for over a decade as designer, design manager and creative director for a variety of European fashion brands. And since a couple of years as creative director for a brand in Berlin."

     

    What motivated you to make the transition from fashion into ceramics?

    “After working nonstop in the fashion industry, I was longing to take my creativity out from behind a corporate computer and create something with my own hands which led me to experiment with clay. It initially just started off as some sort of meditational practice and developed over time into my passion and second business."

     

     

    Tell us about 22_22 studio.

    “As I had only worked for other people's companies, I eventually felt the urge to create a brand that would represent my own aesthetics and values that would help enable me to share what inspired me personally. Therefore, I decided to merge this idea with my passion for crafts and interior and started my own brand 2222STUDIO under which I design, make and sell interior objects. 2222STUDIO was inspired by my lucky number and time 22:22. Since I was a teenager, I have been superstitious about it and believed that catching this time over and over was no coincidence. I always felt compelled to make wishes for a whole minute until this magic alignment of numbers passed. "

     

    Advice you would give to someone who is interested in starting their own business.

    “Just do it! I believe that it’s important to start somewhere with a vision and then figure things out along the way. Too much overthinking and doubting upfront will just block you. "

    What do you feel is the best part of your job?

    “That it's so versatile, creative, and that I am independent."

     

    3 words that best describe your creative process.

    “Intuitive, meditative and passionate."

     

     

    Favorite song to listen to when you’re working in your studio?

    "Okwukwe Na Nchekwube by Celestine Ukwu & his Philosophers"

     

    Name a personal achievement you’re proud of.

    “Following and building a career for myself that reflects what I am passionate about."

     

    Name a mistake that taught you a lesson.

    “Taking on an order that exceeded my capacity and really challenged my entire setup."

     

    Your top 3 travel destinations. Dream vacation.

    “Mexico, Japan, Venice."

     

    Describe your personal style.

    “Minimal and eclectic."

     

    The one thing in your wardrobe you can’t live without.

    "All my Jackets and coats."

     

    Name a person, place, or thing that inspires you.

    "I really like the work of Alicja Kwade. But my brain just picks up on everything that I see around me. It could be super and abstract, light, textures, shapes."