5 Minutes With... Dutch Basics

by Emma Foreman

Dutch Basics was born out of Doris Pires' passion for beautiful materials and design. Interested in various social, environmental causes, the brand has a strong ethical conscience. We spent 5 minutes with Doris to get a glimpse inside the brand. 

How did Dutch Basics begin?

I started my career in marketing and slowly decided to use my creativity and passion for beautiful quality materials and design to create pieces that I would like to wear. But fashion for the sake of it is too empty. I’ve always believed that we should all make an effort, so when I started this journey I decided to create a brand that is consciously built, where the production is as clean as possible, the materials are of good quality and made to last and the people I work with inspire me and believe in the same cause.

So I took off travelling in search of partners and materials. My origin is from the Cape Verde islands and I have a connection with Portugal, so I started my journey there as there is a long history of craftsmanship and jewellery knowledge. The connection between modern Dutch design principles and old Portuguese craftsmanship was a logical direction to follow. It was a long search to find a good atelier that I wanted to work with, but the search was worth while. For each collection I work directly with the workers devolping the pieces which they then go onto produce. It’s a very fun part of the process because we are experimenting with the materials and the shapes.

Since I started with my jewellery collections in 2013, the brand has evolved a lot. I can now instinctively see if a piece is easy to wear or not and when I’m not sure about it, I wear the piece for a while to see how it feels. At the beginning you I also wanted to participate in everything whereas now I know which path I want to follow.

Have you always been interested in fashion?

It is very stereotypical but yes, I’ve been interested in art and fashion since I was a young girl. My mum used to make clothes for me, but after a while I didn’t find her creations very cool anymore, I preferred my own choices.

What have been the highest and lowest points on your journey so far?

The highest point has been seeing my jewellery in different Dutch magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle and Linda. The lowest point was 2 years ago, it was not going as I expected to and I was doubting whether or not to continue.

What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?

The lastest collection is called Surfaces. The Surfaces Collection started as a personal research journey in what we can achieve with different finishings. The combinations of brushing in opposite directions, hammering, printing and polishing resulted in a beautiful pallet. A tree trunk photographed in the Parkkade in Rotterdam was printed on the silver to create a special pattern.

With simple, contemporary lines these pieces are versatile and have been created to emphasize the elegance and subtlety of the wearer. Each finishing detail represents an example of craftsmanship in our atelier in Portugal.

Do you ever struggle to stay inspired?

I find inspiration everywhere, the challenge is to channel all the inspiration!

Where is your go-to meeting spot?

Mama Kelly is a beautiful restaurant in The Hague, it's my current favourite.

How would you describe your customer base?

Women of all ages who like clean but feminine jewellery, who are aware of fashion and want to make conscious choices.

Is there anyone you would love to see wearing your designs?

In general, I wish that elegant and conscious women would choose to wear my jewellery. It would be a huge compliment if our Queen Maxima of the Netherlands would wear a Dutch Basics piece in her daily life. She is a style icon and an interesting person.

What are the morals you run your brand by?

Dutch Basics stands for cooperation and sharing. I often collaborate with young talented designers giving them the opportunity to grow with us. This interaction results in new ideas and influences in our collections.

A great part of our production takes place in our atelier in Portugal. I can personally follow the whole process. I know most of the workers, I know they are working under the right conditions and there is no child labour. Part of our collection also takes place in The Netherlands where we work with a social enterprise where creative people with various physical restraints are given an opportunity to participate in society.

I also choose to use high quality or innovative materials, which lasts a long time and is made with environmental care. Silver and gold for timeless jewellery. Every rest material is recycled. We have also worked with porcelain, which is environmental friendly and produced locally. In our next collection we are working with an artist using a very innovative material, more will be revealed soon! 

Do you have a mentor?

Not exactly. I’m influenced by art, by my surroundings, my background and by innovative designers. I love people who are being very innovative with production or the materials they use, because I believe that is the future.

What apps keep you sane?

I’m definitely spending too much time on Instagram @dutchbasics

If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?

At this moment I’m in love with the 3 rings of the Surface Collection. When worn together they look like a special silver glove.

Is there another designer whose work you particularly admire?

I know a couple of designers that I really admire for their creativity and craftsmanship. At the moment I’m really in love with XUAN Paris. She’s a Dutch designer living in Paris and she makes a kind of poetic couture. I’m saving up for a beautiful creation of hers.

Corsage Studio belongs to two friends of mine. Their creations can be seen as a more edgy kind of couture. They combine fashion with other forms of art and the stories behind each collection is great.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Do what gives you energy.

What drew you to Wolf & Badger?

The idea that a platform is there so that independent designers can offer their work and people can buy directly from the designers.

Where do you see the brand in 5 years?

In 5 years, I plan to develop our international presence and to increase our ethical engagement. I want more collections with innovative materials and more collaborations with other designers. 


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