Gertjan van der Linden is a Dutch designer based in Noord-Brabant, in the South of the Netherlands. He launched his own label, Likeme(N) in 2011. Society and the interactions between individuals, groups and fashion are the main inspirations behind his work. At the FASHIONCLASH Fashion Shows, he will be presenting Inc(RED)iblE, a collection focusing on pointless violence in society.
Hey Gertjan! Please introduce yourself. Who are you? Where do you come from? What is your field of specialization?
I, Gertjan van der Linden, graduated from the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) in 2011 with a bachelor’s in fashion design. During those years, I focused on the relation between human identity and society. I observe the interactions of groups versus individuals, personal style, and the sign system of fashion. I created my own label, Likeme(N) in 2011. The aim of the label is to bring attention on the problems that society faces, by developing and realizing concepts that matter. All the concepts have a common thread: individuality, identity, nostalgia, and authenticity. Within those, a dark-edge is visible as well as a healthy dose of humour. My mission is to inspire society with my collections, so that people can be a part of it. At the same time, I try to warn them by showing what the “problems” are in society nowadays. I do this by elaborating on themes such as individuality, identity and nostalgia.
What inspires you in general?
I am inspired by lots of different things. But most of the time, I am inspired by the relation between human identity and society. When you observe the interactions of groups versus individuals, personal style, and the sign system of fashion you notice a dynamic movement. It is that dynamic movement that inspires me.
What place or city do you find inspiring?
I don’t really have a specific place that inspires me. I am a real daydreamer so I get my inspiration from everywhere I stare. Sometimes, when I read my beloved fantasy books, they take me to some inspiring places.
What is it like to be a young designer in your city/country?
It’s hard because you want to inspire people and society through your brand and collections, but meanwhile, you need to work elsewhere to obtain the money to do so. Most of the time, you are actually busy by doing something else than being a designer. My aim is to be a designer for my own label, but in the mean time, I am trying to get a job as designer for a commercial brand. That would allow me to gain some experience in the field as well as giving me time to do my own things.
This is your third year at the FASHIONCLASH Festival. How would you describe your experiences so far?
Indeed, this is my third year participating at FASHIONCLASH Festival. I am still enjoying it and I am proud to be part of this great platform for young designers. The vibe throughout the whole festival is very positive and motivating. You can easily get in touch with other designers and models. FASHIONCLASH is also one of the last platforms where people are still down to earth. So yes, my experiences after three years of participation are very positive!
“Inc(RED)iblE” is the name of your collection. Could you elaborate on the main themes of your collection?
This year at FASHIONCLASH Festival, I have chosen to take senseless violence as the inspiration behind my collection, Inc(RED)iblE. I made this choice because of the rising numbers of agression in society. Everywhere you look, you see people with short tolerance span who get agitated very quickly. That’s why the collection is named Inc(RED)iblE because it’s insane that society is drifting in the wrong direction. The capital letters RED stand for the colour of blood. By the way, I didn’t choose red as my main colour pallet because that would have been too simple. Instead, I chose a minimalistic colour pallet combined with theatrical purples that stand for loss and mourning. The main theme in my newest collection is senseless violence, but you will also find other themes such as the “Victorian Age,” “sportswear,” “urban,” and “streetwear.”
You mention your collection reflects on the pointless violence in society. How does the central theme of your work translate to clothing?
I found it hard to translate pointless violence into clothing because I didn’t want to use blood or other violent symbols. That’s why I chose self-made interpretations of the human anatomy, and translated those into details in the clothing. I thought about da Vinci’s drawings and interpreted them in clothing with charcoal drawings. These were combined with reinterpreted silhouettes of the Victorian Age. I created a new sub-cultural group that represents my understanding of pointless violence in combination with today’s point of view towards society without pointing at specific people living in it.
Describe you collection/creation in three words.
"The modern gentle boy"
Did you always want to work in the field of fashion?
No not really. First, I wanted to study biology in Nijmegen and become a virologist. Fortunately, in my last years of high school, I had the chance to really explore my hobbies and show them to the people around me. This, in combination with a taste for more and wanting to inspire people, made me go in the direction of fashion design.
Can you remember the first piece you designed?
Yes, I still remember the first drawings I made when I was around 17 years old. Those were my first real fashion drawings. Before that I was obsessed with drawings of “Magic the Gathering,” a game full of little paintings of dark theatrical pictures.
Do you have a muse? If yes, who is it and why?
My muse is probably society and its individuals and groups. Those are my main inspirations, and they really keep me aware of what is happening around me. My main goal is and will always be to warn and inspire society.
I want to transfer my idea of a subcultural youth that haunts the streets at night. I will try to translate that concept into my collection. A little touch of fear will also be added in the choreography.
What is on your playlist when you are working?
Most of the time I have my radio on. I do prefer some harder styles to keep up the pace, because time is money!
What book shaped you?
I love books that have a dark edge. This edge can be found in the characters or in the world in which they evolve. At the moment, I am reading the book name “Prince of Thorns” by Mark Lawrence. It’s about a little prince that has seen terrible things happen to his family. His character becomes a anti-hero. I love to witness such a change in personality.
What is the latest thing you bought for yourself?
The latest thing I bought for myself is a new home: a nice free standing house from the 1930s! with my girlfriend, we got the keys on the 1st of May. I have lots of space in my new atelier: compared to my old one, it’s five times bigger. Not only Inc(RED)iblE is keeping me busy these days.
What is your favourite fairy tale and why?
My favourite fairy tales are the ones that have been or that will be redesigned. In the past, all the fairy tales were dark, like the ones from the Grimm Brothers. I love how nowadays fairy tales are re-discovered by restoring the darkness they once had. “Maleficient” or “Snow White” are good examples. I am definitely drawn to this darkness, and you can find it back in all of my concepts.
If your life were a song what would the title be?
“Behind blue eyes”
What made you smile today?
My girlfriend made me smile today, despite the fact that she woke me up around 05:30am.
Twitter or Instagram?
Definitely Instagram, because it fits fashion perfectly and also because I still don’t understand Twitter completely.
What is your definition of style?
Style is a signature. People dress in certain ways to be part of a specific group and to fit certain ideals. However, within those groups, they still want to be individuals. They call it the never-ending paradox in fashion.
What has been the greatest experience in your career so far?
The greatest experience in my career so far was when I was scouted by “Not Just a Label” a couple of months before last year’s FASHIONCLASH Festival. And of course, my first publication in “Institute Magazine.”
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am planning on making some commercial pieces after the FASHIONCLASH Festival, once I’m completely settled in my new home. That way, I hope that I can expand my brand and do some marketing as well. There is also my new collection, inspired by Babylon that still requires some work. Besides that, I hope to get a position at Scotch & Soda as designer. At the moment, I am working there as Visual Merchandiser and Assistant. The world hasn’t seen me yet!
Likeme(N)'s collection will be shown on the FASHIONCLASH catwalk on the 14th of June at 8.30pm. No ticket? Get it here: www.fashionclash.nl/tickets/
Likeme(n)'s website: www.likeme-n.com