Gouda is a beautiful old town in the Netherlands, where Arjen and I bought a tiny cheese warehouse right in the middle of the town centre and converted it to our first home. Every Saturday morning we would walk to the local bakery for some nice fresh bread. One Saturday morning in May 1998, when we turned the corner at our little alleyway, we saw a very special new store named: ‘De Wereld van Eva’, which means The World of Eve. I immediately loved it and literally bought the dress off Elke’s body, who is the shop owner. I was Elke’s first client and since then have become her most loyal and furthest away living client and we’ve become great friends.
Shopping at De Wereld van Eva is an extremely enjoyable experience. Elke showcases small, quality designers, who you don’t find in the big department stores. She particularly likes showcasing Dutch fashion designers and she spends a lot of time picking the right pieces to put a nice collection together. Elke doesn’t take too much notice of what is hip or fashionable, but her focus is on timeless, quality clothing pieces that you’ll be able to wear for years to come. (I still wear the first dresses I ever bought from her.) You also don’t need to worry that someone else will be wearing the same dress, as Elke only stocks one of each item in every size. Elke’s strength is in making the whole shopping experience very personal. A lot of her clients have become friends and keep coming back over and over again.
On my recent visit to the Netherlands and to De Wereld van Eva, I interviewed Elke about her passion for fashion. I am very pleased to see that in the world of big department stores and online shopping, there is still space for something that is completely different.
Elke started her boutique, as she couldn’t find the right clothing in Gouda. She always had to travel to Amsterdam or Haarlem (about an hour away), so she decided to set up a very personal boutique in her hometown Gouda. ‘I love it, as I have the opportunity to do everything that I really enjoy doing. I love giving advice on style and colours, as the right outfit can bring your personality to the forefront and should make you feel on top of the world. You can see this in my logo, which symbolises Eve, the first woman, sitting on top of the world. I find it extremely important that you’ll see a woman with a beautiful dress enter a room, instead of a dress entering a room. The dress should compliment you and your personality, instead of taking over. I believe in that and I also believe that everyone, no matter how big or small you are, can look fantastic with the right clothing choices. I also really enjoy going to tradeshows, as I am always on the hunt for the latest fashion jewels. I get a lot of inspiration from the tradeshows, as well as from reading magazines, watching people and travelling.’
Twice a year, Elke organises a fashion show in the old cellar of the Gouda town hall. ‘These really are the highlights of the year for me. I feel great when the shows are successful and people are having a great time. I don’t work with professional models, as I truly believe in showing the clothing on normal people. That makes it much more accessible for everyone.’
The fashion shows are the biggest marketing activities for Elke. Other than that, her business runs on her loyal clients and word of mouth advertising. I am a big fan and if you ever go and visit the Netherlands, it is worth stepping outside Amsterdam and making a de-tour to Gouda, the town famous for the cheese and the syrup waffles (stroopwafels), and visiting ‘De Wereld van Eva’.
For more info visit http://www.dewereldvaneva.nl/
Elke is coming to Sydney in the beginning of February and we’ll be organising a fashion night at my place. If you interested in a fun night and possibly getting some very nice new clothes from the upcoming European Summer collection, email me and I’ll send you an invitation.