Dress’d by Ellen Benders
Meet Ellen Benders, a fashion designer based in Amsterdam. Ellen is one of the first designers we started working with when opening Puha in 2010. Every piece from her collection is designed by her and made in her atelier. Her collection mostly shapes itself around the female body, but sometimes she adds a unique item for men. Anna went to visit her in her studio to help us get to know her a bit better!
Anna: Hi Ellen Benders, you are working with Puha for a long time all ready! Let’s delve into your background. Could you share a bit about your personal journey and what led you to start your label?
Ellen: I started my label back in 2006, and it’s been quite a journey. I’m originally from Limburg, and I believe it has kept me grounded. I studied fashion design at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, majoring in design styling. This gave me a great understanding of forms, designs, and textiles. While I don’t create fabrics myself, I love being involved in every other aspect of the design process, from conception to production and even selling. Seeing my clients wear and enjoy my designs brings me immense satisfaction.
Can you share a bit about your creative process and what inspires your unique style?
Ellen: Absolutely. I source fabrics from Italy, where I have a buyer who sends me samples each season. Instead of following trends, I prefer to be the source of inspiration myself. My designs have evolved over the years, from playful and colorful to more sophisticated. I draw inspiration from memories of my own past, 1950s/60s fashion, art and architecture. Fabrics play a central role in my designs; they inspire the pieces I create and I want each garment to suit the body type of the wearer.
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the fashion industry. How do you incorporate sustainability into your work?
Ellen: Sustainability is a significant aspect of my brand. My pieces are made to last, and my clients often wear them for 10-15 years, coming back to have more made in the future. I believe in creating timeless styles that stand the test of time. By making the pieces myself, I ensure that each garment is crafted with care and love, which contributes to their longevity. My fabrics are produced in a more sustainable manner and I mix synthetic and organic materials to achieve a balance of quality and environmental consciousness.
Next to the ready to wear collections you sell at Puha, customers also visit you in your studio. Could you tell us more about the Made to Measure aspect of your work?
Certainly, I create custom designs, catering to the unique preferences and perfect fit for each of my clients. They have the freedom to choose the fabrics and styles that suit them best, ensuring utmost comfort. Moreover, I specialize in crafting exclusive wedding dresses, tailored to the client’s desires, all meticulously handmade. I want them to feel comfortable and beautiful in what they wear.
Are there any particular pieces that you’ve created that hold a special place in your heart?
I do have a few favorites. My winter coats are one of them. Although they may be an investment, they are designed to last for years, which makes them both practical and sustainable. I also enjoy creating jumpsuits and cozy sweaters.
As a successful entrepreneur, what advice do you have for young designers and creatives starting their journey?
Stay true to yourself and your vision. Embrace what excites you and makes you comfortable. You don’t need to rush; take it step by step.
Thank you, Ellen, for sharing your journey and insights with us!
Text and photos by Anna Cleveland