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GET FAMILIAR: BONNE REIJN

Posted by Anne van Lingen on

Most known for his, ‘Poor Man’s Suit’ -unisex two-piece suits, crafted as a response to the conventional standards in the fashion industry. Bonne Suits’ founder Bonne Reijn is a designer first and stylist second. In addition, Reijn is the owner of Gallery de Schans where he organizes events and curates exhibitions.

Read our interview with Bonne Reijn below.

Hi Bonne, introduce us to Bonne Suits.
Bonne Suits is a unisex suit label, targeted to the street scene.
I wanted to design a suit accessible for everyone, transcending race, colour, gender, sexual orientation and occasion. A wedding, or a funeral, in the club or at the office, the bonne suit is an all-purpose garment.

What do you do next to Bonne Suits?
Before launching the Bonne Suits label, I worked as a stylist simultaneously hosting an art gallery in my own living room. With Gallery de Schans I aim to make art of young creatives more accessible to groups that aren’t necessarily into art. This vision also reflects on Bonne Suits, where it’s one suit for all, whereas de Schans represents ‘art for all’.I’m all for accessibility and detest elitism and other groupings.

You and cofounder Justus independently launched Bonne Suits without the help of investors, which seems to be going good now. Would you accept if In investor came up to you now to financially support your label?
It depends on whether I can keep doing what I want to do. In my opinion, when an investor enters the picture, he will most likely interrupt my freedom of doing so as he will also own a part of the company. I don’t think I can compromise to this.

Where does your dedication come from? And how did you discover your vocation for fashion?
I’ve lived a pretty turbulent youth, a ‘schizophrenic life’, as I have lived in many different places with different people. Because of this, I never had a strong sense of identity. I’m not proud to be from somewhere, I’m simply proud to be human. This is probably why accessibility of connection is so important to me.
My mother had her own cafe and was always into fashion as she had a small label of her own. I’ve also lived with my aunt in Dedemsvaart where she had her own open garden as she was a garden architect. So from a young age, I naturally obtained the skill of creating and being able to express openly.

How did you start your career? And where? 
When I dropped out of high school, I was pretty desperate, so I started looking for jobs. I applied to every store on the Rozengracht. From Turkish pizza place tonight shops and restaurants. In my search, I ended up at this huge high-end store called SPRMRKT selling all these crazy looking clothes. I wasn’t really into fashion back then, but they were the only ones who wanted me to work for them. In the 5 years I worked there, many big stylists would visit the store. They would buy a bunch of pieces, and bring them back a few days after. I was very intrigued, and I got to assist one of these stylists. I did this for 5 years until Elle Style Awards nominated me- and I won. This has brought me more recognition, resulting in clients and jobs for myself. Somewhere along the way, I got in touch with Gee from Patta. I became friends with team Patta, and helped them with several styling jobs for their shoots and editorials. When I came up with Bonne Suits, Gee decided to support me on this.

Bonne Suits is part of a multi-brand store called Zeedijk 60, can you tell us more about that?
I like it so much. Back when I worked with Patta, I brought in a group from SMIB collective and TNO. Eben From TNO was already doing an internship for Patta. We were all busy with creative things. Fashion, music and meanwhile a relationship was established with Patta. So when TNO, Sumibu (from SMIB) and my brand Bonne Suits were just starting out, Edson hooked us up with Zeedijk 60 which just got available for rental. We were immediately down, as we did not have the financial stability to hire staff and a store for each brand. It’s all about unity.

What was the most important thing that happened to Bonne Suits this year?
We won the Dutch Design Award, which was really cool. It’s a Dutch prize, but there is a big international involvement.
In the Netherlands, small ‘underground’ brands such as Bonne Suits get little to no media interference. So getting that recognition from a big X as DDA, was definitely a big compliment.

Who are your biggest influences; in life, your art and design?
My aunt, Mien Ruijs, my peers in Amsterdam- TNO, Sumibu, Daily Paper and fashion label Issey Miyake.

What’s the biggest problem you’ve had to overcome so far in your career?
Myself. Because of my ego, personality and traumas. I had to be very critical in this journey, as I faced myself in the challenges that came up along the way.
Finance was also quite a challenge at times, as we operate everything with our own resources.

How do you want your consumers to feel when wearing your clothes?
I’d think it’s cool if the wearers will feel and understand my vision on accessibility.

What is your dream project?
I would love to open a store outside the Netherlands, so having a bigger international reach.
But the Utopia would be that: say if you were to pay taxes, or a product with tax, you get a Bonne Suit in exchange.

What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?
Money management. I had just sold my first 100 Bonne Suits from my living room. It went great, but I did all transactions in cash without operating as a registered company. So there I was, checking out at the Albert Heijn cash register using the Bonne Suits profit we just earned. When earning profit from your first run, you have to double, even triple that amount to realize your next collection and other expenses such as a website or rent. Instead, I was blowing that money on some kale or whatever. Luckily, Justus joined me at Bonne Suits around that time helping me correct the way I managed matters.
What is your favorite part about being a designer? It’s a good coping mechanism. Everything I perceive on a day to day basis can be processed into a creation. To me, its one of the best techniques to deal with this world's madness. It works therapeutically.

The Patta x Bonne Suit is available for purchase in a Surf The Web and Black colourway here.