Fad or Cult Classic: Vlieger & Vandam
18 September 2012

Fad or Cult Classic: Vlieger & Vandam

Originally published on Tongue in Chic, 18 September 2012


It’s pretty amazing that what began as a DIY project made from pre-loved handbags and wool felt with weapons embossed onto them, caught the attention of the fashion press in 2002 even before Carolien Vlieger and Hein van Dam launched their Amsterdam-based label. The amount of media coverage the design duo had received had eventually inspired them to launch their independent contemporary designer accessories label Vlieger and Vandam in 2004. After all, it isn’t too often that one gets famous before they even start a label! With all the attention they were getting, they already had a head start, and decided to stick to what they have become known for: handbags and small leather goods for both men and women.

Their most popular collection to date is the ‘Guardian Angel’: a range of bags featuring the embossed silhouettes of weapons. As morbid as these may sound, it definitely isn’t art for art’s sake. Knives and guns feature prominently in the ‘Guardian Angel’ collection, and this was the deliberate way in which the designers had chosen to comment on the increasing violence and crime in the media, especially pop culture’s obsession with fear.

If you think they were popular before the launch of Vlieger & Vandam, they grew into a global brand shortly after their label was set up. Not only did their bags feature prominently in the Dutch editions of fashion magazines like In Style, Cosmopolitan, and Grazia, they also got picked up by the European fashion press in Belgium (Elle), France (Monsieur, Maison et Objet), Russia (Max), and extended right over to us here in Asia as seen in WWD (Japan edition), and La Vie (Taiwan).

A celeb following ensued, with popstars like Cassie, Rita Ora and Fergie on the band wagon. But none of these ladies can rival Rihanna, who may be considered the label’s greatest fan, regularly spotted with various bags from Vlieger & Vandam on numerous occasions.

The brand has since added several other new elements (not all are weapons!) to its collection including skulls, zippers, the controversial bags with Jesus hanging on the cross, and, most recently, handcuffs and bows.

Though Vlieger & Vandam bags aren’t really my kinda style because it’s slightly too tough chick-esque for my liking, I’d still say it’s a cult classic. And especially in this case, “cult” is the key word because you either love it or hate it. There’s really no in-between with this one. I’d love to hear you weigh in on this. What’s your take: fad or cult classic?

Images: Velle, Jeremyriad, Vlieger & Vandam, Rita Ora, Fashionistazapatista