Words Marie-Pauline Cesari 

Last week, the Numéro Netherlands team was treated to a vibrant celebration at the re-opening of de Bijenkorf’s men’s department, and it was an absolute blast.

With luxury boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga joining the fold, the department now showcases an illustrious array of renowned brands. Exploring the department’s vast selection, ranging from casual to formal wear across a generous 4,000 square meters, was a delightful experience. Adding to the allure, the Style Arcade, complete with retro games like PacMan and pinball, injected an additional thrill into the festivities, offering us the chance to indulge in some playful competition while enjoying delectable cocktails. The evening was further energized by breakdance performances, featuring impressive moves that were a truly entertaining highlight of the event!

The debut of KORF, a sleek new style newspaper brimming with inspiration and insights, added a touch of sophistication to the event, introduced by Giovanni Colauto, CEO of de Bijenkorf.

We were fortunate enough to sit down with Jasper Bionda, a buyer in the Luxury Designer & Contemporary department, and Youri de Groot, a menswear buyer specializing in Street & Contemporary fashion. Their perspectives on the department’s transformation shed light on the careful curation of offerings, ensuring a diverse range of styles to suit every taste.

In Conversation with Jasper Bionda, Buyer Luxury and Designer.  

MP: It's actually very interesting for us to interview you because you've been here for over 18 years. Can you tell us what changes you've seen in luxury menswear during that time?

Jasper: Certainly. Over the years, luxury in menswear has evolved significantly. It's always been tied to buying power, but now luxury encompasses a broader range of products, from traditional items like umbrellas to niche designer brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. We've also seen a shift towards incorporating creativity and local craftsmanship, such as partnering with Dutch brands like Daily Paper. However, one thing that hasn't changed is our commitment to staying true to our Dutch roots and maintaining a unique identity among other retailers.

MP: How do you approach balancing traditional luxury brands with more avant-garde designers?

Jasper: I don't see it as balancing per se. Traditional luxury brands cater to a larger audience with more mainstream appeal, while avant-garde designers like Rick Owens and Dries van Noten attract a smaller, niche market. Instead of trying to find a middle ground, I focus on understanding the distinct needs and preferences of each customer segment and curating our offerings accordingly.

MP: What upcoming trends or collections are you particularly excited about?

Jasper: One trend I'm really interested in is the resurgence of craftsmanship and tailoring. We're moving away from flashy logos and branding towards a focus on the quality and construction of garments. For example, the latest collection from Margiela showcased impeccable craftsmanship and attention to detail, which I find very compelling.

In conversation with Youri de Groot, Menswear Buyer specializing in Street & Contemporary fashion.

MP: What are the key trends influencing streetwear and contemporary menswear right now?

Youri: Well, I think one of the biggest trends right now is the continued rise of core technical outerwear and performance lifestyle fashion, which we've been seeing for several seasons. Additionally, there's a significant trend towards a more retro vibe, particularly evident in the resurgence of flat sole footwear and the comeback of denim. It's a parallel between progressive performance and nostalgic retro brands making a comeback, appealing to a newer, younger generation.

MP: How do you decide which emerging designers to feature in the Street & Contemporary department?

Youri: We maintain strong connections with existing partners and keep a close eye on market trends both domestically and internationally, visiting stores and multi-brand concept stores during buying trips. Data plays a significant role as well, with insights from our online department informing us about search trends and overall consumer preferences. When considering new brands, we assess if they align with our values of exclusivity and quality, and if they bring something unique to our portfolio. Partnering with brands that have a solid community and align with our customer base is crucial.

MP: What is the latest designer you've featured, and what sustainability initiatives are you integrating into your work?

Youri: Recently, we've introduced Flaneur and Represent into our selection. Flaneur is a domestic streetwear brand, while Represent hails from Manchester, UK, offering affordable luxury sportswear. Both brands have strong connections with their communities and employ direct-to-consumer models. Sustainability is a top priority for us, with initiatives embedded in our strategy since 2016. We work closely with partners to ensure they have CSR policies and transparency in their production chains, from sourcing fabrics to labor practices.