Sjaak and Sebastic: Arnhem’s Sartorial Art.

April 2, 2009
Although Amsterdam is often considered the fashion capital of the Netherlands, the city of Arnhem has quietly been making a name for itself what with innovators such as Viktor & Rolf and mastermind of menswear Lucas Ossendrijver (who cut their teeth at the city’s design academy) raising the profile on the international scene. Now, fashioning “lingerie for men” and menswear of an entirely luxe disposition, Arnheim Fashion (Sjaak Hullekes and Sebastic) is fast becoming the principal body creating the Netherlands’ menswear of note.
1. Who and what is Arnheim Fashion?

Arnheim Fashion is the name of the company that was established by us (Sjaak Hullekes (1981) and Sebastiaan Kramer (1985)) in 2006. It is a cooperative company in which we both have our own menswear label, Sebastic and Sjaak Hullekes, as well as our freelance work.

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Sjaak Hullekes

3. What are your respective design backgrounds?

We both graduated from the Academy of Arts and Design in Arnhem in 2005 (the
Academy where Viktor & Rolf, Lucas Ossendrijver and Alexander Van Slobbe also graduated), after which we started Arnheim Fashion. Besides designing our own collections we also work on a freelance basis, we have worked for Running Dogs, Tommy Hilfiger, Elle prèt-a-porter, State of Art, Puma Dassler, Arnhem Fashion Biennale, as teachers and so on…

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2. How do you two differentiate between the aesthetics of the Sjaak line and Sebastic?
Also, do you both design both lines?
Because we both design for our own label having the different aesthetics is something that comes naturally. We of course share the same visions on menswear, which is one of the reasons we decided to start to work together, but in designing we both have our distinct style and are very different designers.

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4. I read in a previous interview that the Sjaak and Sebastic lines possess inherently different characters e.g. Sjaak is more mature and understated whereas Sebastic is carefree and insouciant. Can this be applied to your own characters/working relationship also?

If those characteristics would be applicable to our own characters they would be large
exaggerations of the character traits we have! For example Sjaak is a bit more balanced and reserved whereas Sebastiaan can be a little more impulsive and headstrong, we
compliment each other in that way.
5. Can you tell us more about Sebastic Underwear? Is this a recent innovation or have you been doing it for a while? Do you have plans for a Sjaak underwear collection?
For two seasons Sebastic is focussed more on Underwear, body wear or even lingerie for men. We strongly believe in having a particular specialisation as a brand. For Sebastic that has been Underwear, already since the beginning. As the underwear part has been growing much faster in its idea and mentality, we want Sebastic to focus more on that part of fashion. The nice thing about underwear is that you can say a lot, and make a big fashion statement, without anyone seeing it, I just love the intimacy of it.
As mentioned above we believe in specializations; for Sjaak that will be more tailor made items, and a strong focus on personality. Sjaak is always looking for clothing that do not overshadow the personality of the wearer. So far we do not have any plans for a Sjaak underwear collection, although we had one brief in the spring/summer 09 Sjaak Hullekes collection.

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Sjaak Hullekes

6. In one of Sebastiaan’s blog posts he mentioned that he gets nostalgic for the classic masculine form which has largely been ignored as of late in preference for the skinny-indie aesthetic. Do you think menswear should return to favouring this more brawny form?

Well, to be honest we have grown a little tired of the whole indie movement as well as the neo Neon and it is something that totally doesn’t suit us. We have always favoured quality and nostalgia, which shows in our designs.
We think that after this economical recession thing if finished, the whole lifestyle of people will be more or less nostalgic again. For the future we will enjoy making pancakes, apple pies, and having more “tea time fun” together… A more ‘down to earth’ feeling, in which we will have more interest in tailor made, and hand made items. The feeling of fashion will be going to be inspired by the first part of the 20th century, and that might be the same for the male figure as well.
7. I loved the footwear you did in collaboration with Bretoniere, can you tell us a little more about this process of collaboration/how the footwear is produced?

We started this collaboration with Fred de la Bretonière for a shoe collection for Sjaak Hullekes to go with the S/S 09 collection. We wanted feature a complete wardrobe in the collection and feel that shoes are a very important asset to an outfit.
We are very lucky that Bretonière wanted to collaborate with us, since his label is so well known for it’s quality and knowledge of classical shoemaking and his style is a perfect match with Sjaak’s.
We got a lot of positive feedback and were very happy with the result of this
collaboration. And are even more happy that for the A/W 09/10 collection we will have a new shoe collection for Sjaak Hullekes as well as for Sebastic!
8. What’s your favourite film?

Sebastiaan: Pink Narcissus, I don’t think I need to say much more about that…
Sjaak: Mine is Spirited Away, Just love the whole fantasy part in combination with the kind of nostalgic feeling…

Much thanks to Sjaak and Sebastiaan.