Being an Amsterdam based, open-minded global brand, Avelon is chasing after silent claims, automatically being attention-grabbing and ‘cool’. You’ll understand better what I’m trying to tell when you get to know Erik Frenken, Creative Director of the brand.
I’ve always been a close follower of Avelon’s journey. Having set up a strong language at an early stage only to reach where they are today, they make distanced, confident, ‘urban’ masterly designs that we can classify as ‘casual couture’. It could be said without hesitation that what was born seven years ago has grown up remaining loyal to the same genetic codes. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to design for celebs such as Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, Jessie J and Ellie Goulding in such a short time. Or Avelon wouldn’t have been named as one of the trend setting brands in the international fashion scene or Erik as one of the creative directors to be followed by Womens Wear Daily (WWD) and style.com – Vogue Runway with its renewed version.
It’s a well-known fact: You cannot imagine any brand without its creative director, who is considered the soul of the brand. Even if there are many other elements at the end of the day, the ones to create new collections out of their sketches are those creative men/women. Therefore I could easily say that Avelon is advancing in parallel with its creator who went to undergraduate school at The Royal Academy of Art in the Hague and grad school at Central Saint Martins in London – graduating with an honors degree. Erik is an open-minded, free-spirited, witty and a smart guy and Avelon is just the same.
One of the biggest breakthroughs in the career of Erik was to work as the Head Designer at arty fashion house Viktor & Rolf’s Women’s Wear Department for four years. Before Avelon, Erik worked at Alberta Ferretti for some time. In 2008, he started to work at Avelon, a denim brand at the time, as the Director of Design. That’s how his adventure of transforming the brand began. Enjoying his cocktail at Cihangir on a nice day he tells about those times in a calm but enthusiastic way: “I had the chance to buy the brand and create my own Avelon universe in 2010. After that, we started to make designs in the style of casual couture where usefulness and creativity are of equal importance. Of course a lot has changed in our business since the beginning, just like all the other stories. Today we’re only focusing on our women’s wear collections, we also added women’s footwear designs to them. We held our first international presentation of 2015 Spring-Summer Collection at Paris Fashion Week and achieved great results.” Both Erik and Avelon prefer taking firm steps forward, both in their lives and careers. There’s no need to rush.
I remember that the black jeans full of zipper details on the legs became successful in their first collections. Some of the best-seller pieces must have piled up in the brand’s archive so far. “Coats, knits, dresses and skirts are particularly preferred. For example, coats and skirts in the ‘wrap’ form were highlights of the last season. Avelon became one of the first brands to use pink golden material in zippers and buttons, we still do not give up on that. I think it’s the ‘luxury metal’ of this generation. Leather has been the most important material that has determined our attitude from the very beginning. Lately we’ve also started to become popular for our knit and pleat works.”
Even though the good brands have strong genetic codes, everyone understands something else from them. My Avelon and yours might well be different from each other. The geography into which the brand was born is undoubtedly important, because you cannot think of any creation independent from its origins. For example, if you asked me about it, I’d describe Avelon as follows: ‘designs I cannot take my eyes off despite their simplicity’. I asked the same to Erik: “I don’t know how much of Avelon reflects Amsterdam, at least there’s nothing I do on purpose but yes, it might be true that it takes after me.” Amsterdam on the other hand, offers a stable ground as a city where all the enterprises are respectfully welcomed, everything is possible. “What about Avelon’s understanding of aesthetics then?” It is composed of two different worlds that both complement and confront each other from time to time. For instance I work with one of the best silk fabrics you could ever see and transform it into a trench coat. However, I make it stone-wash afterwards, giving it a more effortless look. Avelon is a sophisticated, globally thinking, effortlessly seeming cool, sexy, smart and amazing brand, just like the women who prefer it or we want to be preferred by. It makes you feel better and stronger when you put on its designs. I imagine this woman as one who attracts all the attention when she steps into a place, though she doesn’t need to do anything special for that. It’s not because she’s the most beautiful woman there or she has the most trendy style, it’s because of her existence and attitude, her own presence.
“It might sound way too optimistic but I find inspiration in everything. On a Japan trip, at a new exhibition, in an intimate chat with someone… It doesn’t make any difference. It’s not a question of inspiration; it’s a question of learning a lot while chasing after a hint. Only then there is something forming in my head. The most ideal environment for me to draw is isolation but it’s not always possible. So you have to settle for what you have. I collect images that support the concept in my mind, then I start drawing, consider the fabrics and tell my team all about it.”
Erik frequently visits Istanbul for biz trips. He knows a lot about us and makes realistic comments, too. Anyway, I won’t ask him what he feels about Istanbul, it doesn’t matter. However, it’s important to know how the women based in Istanbul see Avelon, what they understand from the brand. I think so. “Istanbul treats us really well. V2K has supported us since the beginning. If you ask me “Do they understand Avelon?”, I think all the women we reach throughout the world know what we mean, no matter where they live.” I advise you to keep following Avelon, just as today’s fashion sources point out. That’s what I’ll do.