Q&A with Scotch & Soda’s creative director

Last New York Fashion Week, I jetted off to the Big Apple to attend the Scotch & Soda presentation and interview creative director Marlou van Engelen. Here’s how it went down.

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On a sunny Saturday afternoon, I enter the Angel Orensanz Foundation Center for the Arts with a gaggle of fellow fashionistas and influencers. The event? The Amsterdam-based brand’s S/S 2017 presentation. The theme of the season? “The World According to Heavenly Creatures.” Very promising indeed! The curtain rises to reveal an enchanting tableau featuring different habitats: the tropical jungle, the desert and an imaginary landscape of toxic creatures. The clothing is stunning, and I’m especially smitten with the juxtaposition of textures and colours. The woman at the helm of Scotch & Soda’s superstar design team is creative director Marlou van Engelen, who I had the opportunity to sit down with after the show to chat (among other things) fashion inspo.

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What is Scotch & Soda all about?

The brand is very centred on its Dutch roots but also very curious to discover everything about the world that surrounds it.

What is your ultimate source of inspiration?

The entire world, but I have to say that Tokyo is especially inspiring for its traditional garb and vintage pieces. It’s the only city that I visit regularly for inspiration. Otherwise, I try not to travel to the same places to keep things fresh from one collection to another.

So you travel a lot. Do you have a favourite destination?

If I’m going on holiday, I like to go off the grid. I really love Tulum, Mexico. I also really like Bali for its food and lifestyle and because the people are so kind. I think that despite being worlds apart geographically, they share lots of similarities.

Do you have a particular creation technique?

My approach is a bit different than what you’ll find with other brands. At Scotch & Soda, we don’t do anything on paper or computer. Instead, we scour the world for vintage fabrics that serve as the starting point for our collections.

What are the best parts of your job?

I love working on concepts: the story, mood board – the entire universe, really. It’s my job to fuel the designers’ creativity season after season. Also, I love planning a presentation like this one and making sure that all the details work seamlessly. The very beginning and the very end of the design process are truly my favourite moments.

Why did you choose to show in New York City?

At Scotch & Soda, we like the idea of letting people discover the brand on their own. We think that the clothes have a lot to say and felt that New York was the perfect place to tell that story because you don’t have to use traditional means in this city. That really appeals to us.

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And why did you choose this church as a venue?

It reminds me of our Amsterdam office, which is in a converted church. Plus, we felt that it really worked with the concept of the show.

What do you think are the biggest trends for next season?

I don’t really believe in trends. I believe you have to follow your mood, but if you look at the brand, next season is all about layering with different fabrics, colours and prints.

Do you have classic pieces that make it into every collection?

There’s a core collection of Scotch & Soda essentials that includes chinos, a trench, a parka, a metallic jacket, a boho top and a moto jacket. They’re pieces we revisit every season and that are brand classics.

What is your fashion obsession of the moment?

I love hats!

What does your wardrobe look like?

There’s a lot of colour and a lot of prints. I also have a ton of shoes.

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