How one brand is slowly building one big funky family.
European fashion doesn’t always translate to popularity in the United States, but Jurgen van der Sanden, CEO of 4funkyflavours, believes that his team combines just the right amounts of timeless style and funky individuality to gain a stateside following. The Eindhoven, Netherlands-based brand currently employs about 60 people and operates three brick-and-mortar stores in addition to its B2C website.
4funkyflavors began as a children’s brand in 2010 and expanded to womenswear and menswear in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Originally focused on tapping into the joy and creativity of childhood, van der Sanden and his core team are gradually shifting focus to the adult collections. Here is what he had to say about the brand, its approach to design and its plans to expand.
What is the inspiration behind 4funkyflavours?
When we went to buy clothes for our own children, we saw a lot of the same products in the market. We were convinced that this should be more fun, more original and more colorful. There were only a few brands that managed to distinguish themselves on creativity and quality. Although we had no fashion experience, this inspired us to try to create a new, exiting brand.
What is the significance of your name?
Before we started, we all worked in the music business — Michael and I as DJs. Astrid and I started Rare Records, and for more than 10 years, it was one of the top dance vinyl stores around. Hanneke started as a graphic designer. From this base, we set up several other initiatives, including an artist booking office.
We have tried to approach fashion just as open-mindedly as we were active in music — not sticking to styles or preferences but constantly trying to surprise and achieve the best result through different combinations. Just like building a DJ set, we also try to inspire our audience with all available ingredients. No rules, no limits, no boundaries but our imagination.
What contributes to the “funkiness” of your brand?
Our handwriting is known for using many bright colors creatively in sometimes unusual patterns. We love to mix prints that create a bold blend with surprising combinations. It is the customer that decides how far they dare to go in wearing pattern on pattern.
How do you ensure that your products are made sustainably/ethically?
It is an illusion to think that our business can be 100% sustainable and ethically responsible. But it has got our constant attention, and it is an important part of our corporate culture.
As far as our production is concerned, our goal is to create sustainable products with a long durability. We are also increasingly working with certified fabrics. In addition, our objective is to visit our suppliers annually, at agreed times but also unannounced at some point. We have good contacts with our suppliers on both a business and personal level.
Why do you think sustainability is an important aspect of a fashion business?
Although it is known that the fashion industry has a considerable footprint in the world, it may now be a little too much under a magnifying glass. But when something seems too good to be true, it often isn’t. We hope that consumers will become increasingly critical and will make responsible choices where price is not the most important part. But even if you have less to spend, you have to be able to rely on the information that is available. This is certainly not always the case; we do everything within our power to ensure that this is the case with us.
How has your business been impacted by the pandemic? How have you adapted?
Because the whole world is affected by this, so are we. Some of our suppliers already had to close their factories in February, right in the middle of our production season. As a result, we received parts of our collections later than planned.
Because most fashion shows also were canceled, we switched quickly and invested in a B2B online sale system, Nu Order. Marketing, high-quality photos and presentations are becoming an increasingly important part of our company. Fortunately, our B2C website has always been a strong channel, and we have been able to reach and serve our direct customer well.
What is coming up next for 4FF?
Our goal is to always continue to develop and surprise. We hope to come up with a nice collection of socks next season, and swimwear for both men and women is high on our wish list. We would also like to initiate collaborations with young talents or experienced brands in a completely different industry in order to create unexpected designs together.
We still have a lot to learn about the American market, but we are eager to get really serious about this in the near future and hope that the American public will embrace us as large parts of Europe.