Sarah Van der Wilk
Meet Sarah Van der Wilk, a young clothing designer and a wonderful part of our Puha family! Anna visited her in her atelier in Amsterdam:
Can you tell us a bit about your background and where you’re from?
Sarah: Hello! I’m Sarah Van der Wilk, originally from Amsterdam, and I studied fashion design at HKU in Utrecht. My focus was mainly on conceptual design and storytelling. Before that, I actually studied psychology and earned a bachelor’s degree which helped me understand what I liked.
How did you start your own brand, and what are your goals for it?
Sarah: Honestly, I didn’t have a plan to start my own brand initially. After graduating, I began teaching sewing classes and producing pieces that I wished to see in stores. I didn’t have a lot of funding to start, and I discovered I’m more comfortable keeping things small, not outsourcing or mass-producing. Every item is made in my studio. If anyone is curious to see a behind-the-scenes, I actually have a QR code on the tag that leads to a video showing how I make the pieces.
How did you design your label, and where do you draw inspiration from?
Sarah: I draw inspiration from traditional Japanese art, such as the art of drinking tea and calligraphy. There’s so much attention, love, and respect put into these practices, which contrasts greatly with fast fashion. I believe in putting care into what you make.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your work?
Sarah: Sustainability is a major emphasis for me. I prioritize using certified sustainable materials, such as those certified by GOTS. This helps ensure that the fabric is made by people who are paid well, treated well, and using organic materials with fewer chemicals. I also save fabric scraps to create fanny packs and hats.
What are some of your favorite products that you’ve designed?
Sarah Van der Wilk: I particularly love the “Giacca” and “Pantaloni.” They are a mix of sporty and professional suits. I love to play around with that. The names are actually jacket and pants translated in Italian.
Could you tell us about any recent developments or projects you’re working on?
Sarah: I recently acquired a knitting machine for future projects, as I believe in the concept of slow fashion. Currently, I sew every piece myself. My favorite part of the process is prototyping–it’s always exciting to think outside the box and nourish new possibilities.
Text and photos by Anna Cleveland