We all know that trends come and go, but it was that exact thought that led Helen de Kluiver to launch Caes in 2019. The Dutch label is timeless and seasonless, with the idea that you build on your wardrobe essentials gradually, as they introduce just a handful of new minimal styles twice a year. To celebrate the launch of Relove x Caes, the founder reveals where she finds inspiration, who the Caes woman is, and how sustainability is about much more than just the clothes.
What was the idea behind Caes?
Following many years working in bigger brands, fast-fashion brands, I knew that I could no longer be a part of that system. CAES came to be in 2019 based on our belief that fashion does not have to be fast or seasonal. We believe in designing timeless and seasonless garments made from eco and durable fabrics, that can be worn for many years to come; we introduce a handful of new styles twice a year to an ever-growing main collection.
Where does the inspiration come from?
The last two years have been a lot harder in terms of inspiration and creativity. Holland lived through continuous lockdowns, so my usual visits to museums and love of people watching were a little harder to come by. I do love sculpture and art and learning how things are made. An easier starting point is thinking through what I might like to wear, or what I might be missing from my wardrobe. Fabrics also play a big part in this initial design phase - I really try to focus on the quality and new innovations because our aesthetic is so minimal.
Who is the Caes woman?
The CAES woman is someone who invests in timeless quality garments and who is conscientious about her shopping choices.
Where are the pieces made?
We work with a family run small factory in Portugal - our design studio is in Amsterdam, so we don't have to travel too far to visit there. The factory and its owners share a similar value set to our own and for me that was such a key part of starting this brand - to work with like-minded people.
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
We think sustainability is not just about selecting the right quality and innovation of fabric, it’s also about treating people with respect in every layer of your company. To take care of each other, to share learnings, experiences, and to collaborate. It’s hard to do everything right, right away. But we try to think of every aspect, from the fabrics we use to biodegradable packaging, where we produce, and the delivery of our products. This is actually the toughest part- unnecessary travel and how to reduce it, and the carbon footprint of each garment. It’s an ongoing process and we learn every day. We don’t pretend that we do everything 100% right, but we are doing our best.
What drew you to fashion?
As far back as I can remember, I would make clothes - initially these were in crepe paper and I would make my brother try them on. He was the perfect fit model!
I was always very obsessed with the way things are made and looked at clothing as objects in themselves; you can express yourself through your fashion choices, you can feel empowered even - a dress or a blouse can be so much more than.
What is your go-to outfit?
At the moment I am 7 months pregnant, so my go-to outfits consist of leggings and large wide dresses. I really am looking forward to being able to wear leather-look pants again, with just a simple sweater or tee - I would say my usual approach to style is to pair more outspoken pieces with classic ones, I love the juxtaposition of opposites and how to combine them.
How do you shop?
Having launched CAES, I shop very consciously; either vintage or pieces I know I will love for a long time. A friend recently started a rental service offering some beautiful brands which I look forward to trying once the baby arrives.
What are your favourite pieces from Relove x Caes?
As Spring is on its way, I would say the white poplin dress - it has a vintage feel to it and I thought of the smock dresses I wore when I was younger when I designed it.