Femke Agema | Fashion Designer
Playfulness abound! Amsterdam-based fashion designer
(1982, Hoorn) creates collections that blur the lines
between sculpture, fashion and art, and in doing so, conceives new worlds that blossom with life, color and possibilities. We first spotted Femke's work at
KOKO Coffee & Design
, and her outspoken, playful and fantastical designs stayed with us. We visited Femke at
her studio in de Baarsjes to talk about her newest collection,
, a vibrant array of designs of varying textures and patterns that bubble with
vitality in true Femke Agema-style.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I wasn't sure what I wanted to study after finishing high school. After working and traveling for two years, I decided to apply to the art academy and the fashion department interested me the most. I was admitted to the HKU Utrecht School of the Arts and studied and lived there happily from 2002 to 2006. I won the HKU Award for my graduation collection, Hide Out , which is a prize for the most innovative graduation project. With the prize money, I was able to take my time finding out what I wanted to do next. For the past few years I’ve been running my own fashion label, Femke Agema. My designs are characterized as wearable clothing with a twist that border between fashion, art and object.
What brought you to Amsterdam?
I met my boyfriend, graphic designer Baster , at the art academy. He graduated a few years before me and found an apartment and studio space in Amsterdam. I moved in with him when I graduated and we have been living together in Amsterdam for seven and a half happy years!
What inspired you to start your own fashion label? And how is it going?
It just kind of happened, really. At least, that’s how it feels. I don’t feel like I made a definite choice after I graduated from the art academy. I guess you could say I secretly made a choice since I didn’t job hunt right after I graduated. I figured that if I found a job and became accustom to the luxury of a guaranteed monthly salary then making the step to working for myself would have been more difficult. My experience so far? It’s hard work. You have to be flexible and take on many different roles as your own boss, and need to be patient. I’ve been doing this for a little while so there’s gradual progress, but I still have to work very hard.
Can you tell us about your latest collection?
The summer collection, Mould , was inspired by a photograph I found of mushrooms. The texture and the clustering of the mushrooms really struck me. Mushrooms can be found in so many different forms and colors - nature is ingenious! I then gathered images that were similar to that one of the clustered mushroms, like images of crowded and overly-packed bicycles, cars and donkeys. The bundling of repeated forms is beautiful. It doesn't matter what the forms are, if they're milk cartons, baskets, mushrooms, etc. This collection of images I pinned up on my bulletin board formed the start of the collection. The collection that follows this one is the winter one, which will also include a few golden oldies from previous collections.
Would you say that the city of Amsterdam inspires you?
It's hard to say, I actually don’t know any different.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My life is a little crazy right now since I became a mother about four months ago. I’ve been back at work for a few weeks now, but my daughter often comes to the studio with me since she won't be going to daycare until May. Now my days are very different (and less efficient) than normal!
Can you name a few of your favorite places in Amsterdam?
I'm often at the Rembrandtpark since it’s close to my studio and my home. I take long walks here with my dog, Pepi, as I love watching the seasons change. Another favorite place is this studio in de Baarsjes. Until recently I shared the space with my best friend Will (he’s an English copywriter) – he has now left for a job somewhere else and I’m going to miss him very much! I don’t have favorite coffee places. I'm frugal and I make my own coffee, haha. But I recently had dinner at Repéré and can highly recommend it.
I’m busy with the new collection. There’s quite a lot of pressure to get it finished because I’m a little behind. I'm going to include successful items from previous collections in this new collection - the popular Zigzag Sweater from the Nigliktok collection is making a come back in a new color combination. Classics with a new twist.
Thank you Femke for this interview! Find out more about Femke and her work on her website , or follow along on Facebook . You can also find pieces from Femke's latest collection at shops in the Netherlands including KOKO's Coffee & Design .