At Off_South, a separate new meeting place for fashion professionals during Modefabriek in Amsterdam, we stumbled across Iconic27, a fresh, young label from Amsterdam. There are four creative minds behind Iconic27. We sat down with one of these creative heads, Lily Houben, and talked about overcoming obstacles, the importance of social media and the Dutch consumer.
Who stands behind the brand?
We are a dedicated team of four people. Dennis Rugebret (partner), Leonie Stiegter (marketing and PR), Cris de Ravallet (sales manager) and I are responsible for the creative side.
Why the name Iconic27?
Iconic27 is a distinctive new fashion label. We are provocative and striking like the iconic “27Club.” This club has become one of the most elusive and remarkably tragic coincidences in rock & roll history. The term became widely known after Kurt Cobain's death in 1994, with rock fans connecting his age to that of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix –though it was notable to fans in the early 1970s when those four visionaries died within just two years of each other.
When Amy Winehouse passed away at age 27 in 2011, it attracted even more attention to the significance of the age. While the club has been largely connected to musicians, it has expanded since, as many young actors and artists have lost their lives due to everything from addiction to suicide to freak accidents.
Icons like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Jim Morrison are just a few names of legendary artists who died at the age of 27. Iconic27 is a high fashion collection based on the different identities and lifestyles of these legendary icons. The brand wants to honor these artists and bring an ode to their talent. They are truly an endless inspiration!
How would you describe the style of the collection?
Fashionable but wearable! Fashion with a rock twist.
What obstacles do young brands have to overcome these days to assert themselves in the market?
The business is getting smaller so less opportunities (less clients) to sell your product to. Still a lot of customers are not open to buy new labels as they are a bit scared of sell through. We as a new brand can’t offer special conditions such as consignment, better margin or whatsoever…So we really need customers who believe in Iconic27 and really want push the brand forward.
Where do you get your inspirations?
As a music lover, I often go to concerts, festivals and I really enjoy the Amsterdam nightlife. There is so much amazing beauty to see and hear, but the "Club of 27" artists are truly icons! Their talent is so inspiring. The hippie era of the ‘70s has always interested me enormously, how I would have liked to have lived in this time. At Woodstock there was real talent on stage, such as Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar or Janis Joplin singing with her raw voice that was unbeatable. The more you delve into their lifestyle, the better you get a picture of these artists. The creativity and musicality but also the sad and heavy things that come with fame. They did not reach the age of 27 because they did not know how to deal with this attention at their young age. The short explosive lives of these young talents are an inexhaustible source of inspiration for me and I have always wanted to do something with it. The best way for me to share this and revive these icons is through this fashion label.
How important is social media to build a brand?
Really important!!! Due to a shrinking market you need other ways to present and show your brand! Also you can create a whole story and brand experience exactly how you want it. Also you can reach much more consumers through social media than any other medium. And for example with Instagram only people who are interested in Iconic27 will follow you so you target the right people straight away!
Which trade shows are important for you?
For us the most important one is OFF_South/ Modefabriek, as we are a Dutch based label the Dutch market is still the most important one. Since the 2020 collection we are also active in Germany so for next season the Premium Exhibitions would be also important for us.
Are Dutch consumers open to new brands?
Some of them yes, most of them are still thinking in the old way and are a bit afraid to start with new brands. As a brand you should really focus on your concept and keep on pushing and believing so eventually they will start buying. Keep on trying to create new, fresh sparkling products so we keep surprising them.
Do you have any upcoming plans in the pipeline?
At this moment we are presenting a men's collection in addition to the existing women's collection. We added leather and denim, making the brand a lot more extensive. We are also working with a number of foreign parties to represent the brand there. In addition, there are plans for a home and living line and shoes and accessories collection. In the end we naturally dream of having our own Iconic27 store. We always want to keep creating something unique. That is why we also design all prints ourselves. With this brand we want to honor the artists and bring an ode to their talent. As Jimi Hendrix always said so nicely: "May the dream of your past, be the reality of your future.”