All ABout Camiel Fortgens

We are thrilled to introduce yet another new brand to the Canoe Club roster. Founded in the Netherlands in 2014, the eponymous label Camiel Fortgens has been steadily building a loyal following. This is thanks to its ability to deconstruct classic menswear styles, rendering them in new shapes and forms that challenge the traditional notions of clothing while maintaining a commitment to quality craftsmanship and everyday wearability. 

Much of menswear often revolves around taking classic and timeless silhouettes - from workwear, military or smarter tailored styles - and making subtle changes, often in fabric and fit. What attracted us to this brand is their subversive take on design, which is all thanks to founder Camiel Fortgens, whose approach to making clothes is undoubtedly influenced by his training in Industrial Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Fortgen’s background informs the creation of clothing more anthropologically, delving beyond mere aesthetic inquiry to explore why certain styles exist, how they are used, and their relevance in today's world. He looks beyond construction, function, and even fabric and fit, questioning why the product exists not just in its physical form but also in its societal and cultural context, thus reshaping the narrative of menswear into a dynamic reflection of contemporary attitudes and values.

Part of this ‘design by dissection’ method involves leaving the end product with tell-tale signs of its deconstruction. A signature detail of Camiel Fortgens' pieces is often unfinished and fraying hems, or reverse-turned hems that intentionally expose the raw edge of the interior. Other details include asymmetric necklines and offset hemlines, and contrast top stitching in white. Loose threads are also abundant in his piece.

The Camiel Fortgens Normal Jeans exemplify this approach impeccably. Rooted in the classic 5-pocket jean silhouette and crafted from a punchy orange Japanese cotton twill, they undergo a transformation where form and shape are accentuated and hems are left with the signature raw finish. The outcome is a product that diverges significantly from its original inspiration and offers a wearing experience distinct from conventional jeans. However, over time, the edges will continue to fray, evolving in appearance, while the fabric itself will inevitably soften, ensuring a garment that evolves with each wear - much like regular denim does. 

Another standout and highly wearable piece is the Camiel Fortgens Simple Jacket. This classic cropped blouson jacket is cut from a custom Italian cotton check fabric, offering a signature design with a large flat collar and exposed darts on the sleeves that form pleats at the cuffs. While additional darts at the rear waist enhance the silhouette for a flattering and roomy fit, it’s finished with a unique offset hem at the closure, raw edges on the pockets, and a functional inside pocket to boot. 

Among the other outerwear options are an oversized, short mac-style raincoat crafted from technical poly fabric, and embellished with a classic tartan check overlay. This piece boasts an adjustable hood, a convertible collar, raw edges at the pockets, and scattered loose threads throughout. Additionally, the Worker jacket offers a timeless cropped work jacket style, complete with spacious front pockets and an oversized zip detail on the chest pocket.

Transitioning from outerwear to casual wear, the Camiel Fortgens Hoodie echoes the design elements found in the Simple Jacket: an offset hem paired with an uneven kangaroo pouch pocket. Additional irregular topstitching adds to the signature styling, and an oversized fit, along with washed-out dye, gives this piece the look and feel of a favorite thrift store find. 

For an even sportier option, the track jacket and accompanying track pants present a color-blocked ensemble that can be worn together or as separately. Unlike your typical smooth and sleek sportswear set, both pieces feature the signature deconstructed aesthetic. In particular, the jacket gives an almost inside-out impression, thanks to its inside-out seams and raw edges. The fabric itself is sourced from Germany, a punta jersey viscose blend, making it soft and breathable - whether you're working up a sweat or not. 

Meanwhile, for those of you who, like us, are obsessed with trousers, there are plenty of options to choose from in addition to the Normal jeans. The Big pants offer a wide and cropped style that is perfect for summer and can be matched with the Worker jacket. In comparison, the Simple pants style provides a generous, high-waisted grandpa cut. The Cu Cu model is slightly slimmer and tapered, resembling a pair of work pants, and arrives in the same fabric as the Simple jacket, allowing them to be worn as a set. All of these styles feature elastic waistbands for comfort and easy wearing, and of course, they all boast signature deconstructed details throughout.

To complete the collection, the Camiel Fortgens Cap is meticulously crafted from British waxed cotton fabric and features a discrete metal wire within the brim, facilitating effortless reshaping and customization. Additionally, the cap is equipped with an oversized strap at the back, providing a universally comfortable fit that effortlessly accommodates wearers of all sizes. 

Almost all of Camiel Fortgens clothing includes listed sizing for both men and women. While certain pieces may echo conventional menswear aesthetics, the overarching theme of his collections is one of adaptability and fluidity. This versatility invites people of any gender identity to interpret and embrace his designs in myriad ways, again transcending traditional clothing boundaries and fostering a sense of personal expression. 

This makes pinpointing the precise category for the Camiel Fortgens brand difficult. However, the essence of Camiel Fortgens clothing transcends conventional labels, offering a distinctive allure reminiscent of both vintage garments and freshly worn pieces that have undergone years of personalization. It encapsulates a certain quality often associated with the most stylish person you know: a captivating blend of nonchalance and authenticity. The brand champions an unpolished attitude, celebrating the beauty of imperfection and the charm of unfinished details. It's a style that effortlessly exudes confidence, embracing the raw and the imperfect with a sense of ease and individuality.