Clothing brand Bonne Suits started in 2014 as an answer to what Bonne Reijn saw as fashion’s vices. One of his most important critiques: fashion often makes people feel excluded. By creating a suit that is oblivious to gender, size, age, class, and social expectation, he aimed to make something in which everyone could feel good and where the person who wears the suit is the pinnacle.

Bear Damen is an Amsterdam-based director and producer. He graduated from the ArtEZ institute of the arts before starting his career as a director. He is mainly known for directing music videos with the likes of Ray Fuego, Benny Sings, and James Blake, for which he won a UK Music Video Award. A dreamy, metaphorical approach to the subjects often characterizes his projects.

The video Bonne and Bear created was shot in the environment Bonne grew up in. Scenes are shot in the childhood house where he still lives and the streets around it. We sat down with Bonne Reijn for a Q&A on the film.

How did the video come about?

Bear and I worked together long ago on a music video for the band Go Back To The Zoo. We got along very well and have kept in touch ever since. When I started my suit brand Bonne Suits, I always had the idea to ask him to make something for the brand.

With Bonne Suits, we keep everything close to home and I want to make everything as personal as possible. That is why we present every collection on the stoop in front of my house on the Oudeschans. Bear and I decided to make a slightly autobiographical film about my childhood in that house and the neighborhood where I grew up. It hasn’t always been easy for me, my mother died when I was eight, and I wandered around for a long time until I went to live alone in my mother’s house on the Oudeschans at seventeen.

Bear also lives on the Oudeschans and understands the environment I grew up in. I always find his work multidimensional. It’s never really tied to time. It is a visual interpretation of everyday life without relying on reality. That seemed like a very nice approach to visually interpret my youth. Namely that I have always felt like an outcast and have not always felt happy in my childhood. Music and fashion have always been my main outlet. It is my way of fantasizing.

In what ways has fashion been an outlet for you?

Fashion is a way for me to understand the complexities of life. It exposes part of human interaction. Identity can derive from how someone dresses. Fashion tends to categorize people. That can be both liberating and very vulnerable. My answer to this paradox has been Bonne Suits. I want everyone to wear the same but still let their personality speak. A generic canvas that both the wearer and the beholder can freely interpret. It’s a metaphor for my ideal in fashion.

When I inherited my mothers’ house on de Oudeschans, I started renting out rooms to friends that were comic drawers, musicians, graphic designers, and artists, so it quickly became a melting pot and platform for multiple projects. I had a gallery called Galerie de Schans in my living room numerous weekends a year, there was a music studio where rap collective SMIB recorded, and we hosted multiple other events in the house. It is also the place where I started showing and selling my suits. Like a real fashion house haha. The suits and all the other things we did there brought people together. My house is being renovated now so everybody had to move out, but our new space on the Warmoesstraat took over many of the things we used to do at my house on the Oudeschans. We run Galerie de Schans there as a permanent gallery, a music studio is being built in the basement, and in the attic, @ease is situated on Tuesdays. People can come by to talk about their mental health with professionals and volunteers. Creating a place for people to come together and feel secure is important to me and my brand. It is the foundation of all the things I do.

How does this idea translate into the film?

To me, it’s a romanticization of what fashion or maybe even a Bonne Suit can do to you. The girl in the video is not feeling well, struggling at home and school, but the Bonne Suit harnesses her against the world. In the film, she loses her identity by putting on Bonne Suits and actually rises above society by donning the suit. It shows the paradox I talked about earlier that I’m eager to embrace with my suits.

CONCEPT Bear Damen & Bonne Reijn @beardamen & @bonnesuits
DIRECTOR Bear Damen @beardamen
STYLING Bonne Reijn @bonnesuits
CINEMATOGRAPHY Matthew Ballard @mattballard
ANNU Mirre Licht @mirrelicht
PRODUCTION MANAGER Lisa Scheffer @lisascheffer
PRODUCER Willem Bos willembos_amsterdam
PRODUCTION COMPANY Czar @czar_amsterdam
EDIT Bear Damen
MUSIC Bear Damen
SOUNDDESIGN Staub Audio @staubaudio / @moritz.staub
1st AC Django De Groot
2nd AC Arjen Ottema @arjenottema
CLAPPER/LOADER Niels Zonnenberg @nielszonnenberg
KEY GRIP Kaspar Burghard
STUNT DOUBLE Saskia Neville – @saskianeville
STUNT TEAM Brian van de Vooren, Paul Koops, JP de Kam.
LOCATIE Rudy Stiegmeijer
CATERING Nanja Theus
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Stephanie Elout @stephanieelout
EQUIPMENT Camera Rentals, Lux & Co, Grip Enterprises. STUNT TEAM De Beukelaar VFX The Mill Berlin
SUPERVISOR Stefan Sushemil