Brands

Interview with Atelier de l’Armée

by , November 7, 2012


Founded by Joost Doeswijk and Elza Wandler, Atelier de l’Armée (“Army Workshop”) is a company based in Amsterdam that sells handmade bags and men’s vintage clothing. The bags are constructed mainly out of military fabrics and dead stock leathers. Atelier de l’Armée pride themselves on bringing new life to old items and materials and as such the bags are made from recycled materials. Each bag is unique (and individually numbered), in part due to the natural aging process of the materials and also as a result of repairs, stamps, and the knocks and scrapes achieved through extensive use. The whole effect results in bags that look like they have had an exciting past and are ready to embark on a new journey.

The founders were kind enough to answer some questions for us, which you can check out below…

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1) Repurposed gear and materials can feel either compelling and full of character, or dusty and unappealing. How do you make sure it’s the former?
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Atelier de l’ Armée is a concept that can be amended on anything. Everything that passes through our hands will be given back to the world in a new, modern shape and feel. We mix the materials we find with materials from now, for instance mixing a German military mail bag from 1939 with a dead stock Japanese selvage denim. Although the materials have nothing in common, mixed together they make a whole.
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2) How hard is it to scale when each item is so unique?
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We are not really sure what you mean exactly, but if you mean to expand, it is difficult on one side and not so difficult on the other. Since all our products are very labor intensive, it is difficult to do big productions but it is easy to create something different very fast because we don’t struggle with lead times. It is also interesting for retailers to buy our products because they won’t have competition from other stores, since all our bags are unique.
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3) Do you get a sense of how the whole heritage thing has progressed in Europe vs the U.S.?
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Not really because we sell either way with a similar volume. 
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4) We can see some non-bag carry in some of your imagery. Are there plans for lots of other carry pieces?
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Yes, like we said before, Atelier de l’Armée is a concept that can be amended on anything, especially on other carry pieces. We tested a few items and the sneak preview was in our Fall 2012 lookbook shoot. We are currently working on new items and we hope to add them to our website in the near future. 
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5) What do you carry daily and how?
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We both carry an iPhone case which gets better and better after usage. Elza is testing a wallet, where Joost is carrying the bandana-holder. Further you will never see us without an Atelier de l’Armée bag! Currently we are using a copy of our latest model, Bag133, a very large tote bag made out of 6 selvage Japanese denims, mixed with 2 French Army rifle sling handles.
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