Amsterdam couple Saskia von Hofwegen and Dian Iskandar founded their store for a simple reason: Saskia kept stealing her boyfriend’s clothes and there wasn’t a place in town where she could find equally cool streetwear clothing for the fair sex. With brands such as Vans, Stüssy, This is Welcome, Neige Tees, Grenson, Happy Socks or Komono Eyewear on board, Maha Amsterdam has built up a loyal fanbase on social media in only a few weeks - look out for #shestolemysweater and #mahaamsterdam.
But for the young store owners, the likes of Instagram or Pinterest are not only a marketing tool, but also their most important means of trend scouting and sourcing. Here, they explain how that works. Interview by Maria Hunstig

Why/when/how did you open up your store in the first place? Tell us the story behind!
It all started when Saskia was borrowing Dian’s clothes, mostly sweaters, without him knowing. This annoyed him because they looked even better on her!
So one day we started thinking about where we could buy this style of clothing for women. And the conclusion was simple: nowhere in Amsterdam - yet. That’s when we decided this could be a big opportunity, so we started looking for locations and started writing our business plan.
On the first of May we both quit our jobs and on the first of July we opened our doors and that’s our short history so far.


Women’s streetwear is not the easiest field. How are you coping?
We are doing quite well actually, we are getting a lot of attention through social media and we are getting a lot of positive reactions. We know it’s a hard field to work in, because it is a male orientated market. As we notice girls are demanding a higher quality of streetwear and we hope all the brands will step in to help the streetwear scene for women grow.

What kind of girls would you like to see as your clients?
We want to see girls with a fashion-forward style to help us take streetwear for ladies to the next level. There are a lot of girls on Instagram who we like to identify our store with, girls like Emily Oberg, Sophia Chang and many more.
On the other hand we just want to see all the girls who are stealing their boyfriends’ clothes!

What are your current bestselling labels and styles?
At the moment Neige Tees is our bestselling label, specifically their jackets, those are amazing! But as we are only open for a few weeks now, we got a lot of other brands coming in. We do have high expectations for Harmony Paris, This Is Welcome and Être Cécile.

 
Where do you order your products - showrooms or trade shows?
Mostly in showrooms, we do love Paris! Also there are a lot of products we find on Instagram, it’s the best media device to scout for new, smaller brands. We think it’s the new way of buying in on trend. If we see something we like, we contact the labels and then see how things work out.

Is this also where you collect information about upcoming trends?
Yes, we do collect our trend information mostly from social media (Instagram, Pinterest etc.). Style-wise, our inspiration is mostly coming out of Asia, all the girls in Tokyo look so cool and it seems as if they do it without any effort.

And how do you make use of social media as for your own marketing?
We use it to promote our shop and show everybody what we are doing and with which brands and girls we are engaging – and we use it as a customer service.


Are there any new brands / projects that you are really excited about right now?
Pintrill! Pins are the best accessories to finish off your outfit. It’s a NY based company and we started working with them since we opened and we see that this brand is going through the roof!
Buddy Japan is also a new brand we are expecting in the shop, a handmade Japanese footwear label we are really excited about. And anything that is handmade and from Japan must be good, haha.

Which streetwear trends/looks do you think will dominate in fall/winter 2015-16?
We think the unisex style will continue this fall/winter, the box fitted coats with some sweats and straight fitted trousers. A mix between sport and fashion.

How often do you redecorate the store, how important is the interior?
The interior is really important, that’s the first impression!
But as we just opened we are not thinking about redecorating yet. On the other hand, our interior is quite flexible, everything is movable except the fitting rooms and the counter. And of course we are evolving so we always look for new ways to present items and make our product more appealing.


What do you like about your location/city?
The city center of Amsterdam is a great location. It’s really vibrant and you see a lot of different people. A lot of tourists walk by and so do locals from Amsterdam, so we are very happy about the mix. Businesswise it’s also a good spot, all Dutch people come to Amsterdam for their shopping!

Is there a role model for your shop? Any store – worldwide – which inspires you?
There are a lot of good shops that inspire us! In the Netherlands 290sqm is one of the best, and outside of the Netherlands Naked CPH, Dover Street Market, Colette...I think we could list another 100 stores that we love! There will always be other stores that are interesting to watch.

Maha Amsterdam
Vijzelstraat 105
1017 HH Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Instagram: @maha_amsterdam