Geoffrey Verwey owner of Fresh Inc, a store that sells - as he puts it -‘out of the box street wear’, was born and raised in Amsterdam. His career started as a professional football player, but Geoffrey decided to stop at the age of 25. ‘’Why’ do you ask? Sometimes life just takes you on a different path.’ he said.
It was his mother who gave Geoffrey the advice to start ‘working’ when he decided to stop playing football. His life at that point was build around sports, and so he started working in clothing stores to gain experience. This is when the idea of his own clothing store came to be. Fashion has always played a role in Geoffrey’s life. He remembers being a real Dolce & Gabbana admirer. It is as if the striking designs of the famous Italian fashion brand compliment his quiet personality.
He noticed that people looked at him in a strange way. ‘The transition from being a professional football player to someone who works in a clothing store, is perceived as a downfall by most people’ he explains. ‘But they didn’t see the bigger picture. I wanted to start my own business. It didn’t do it for the money, but for the experience.’
In 2012, Geoffrey managed to open a store in the center of Amsterdam, at de Wijdesteeg. Fresh Inc. was born. His own businesses where people buy clothes, which make them, feel good! His former life in football offered him a large customer base, which Geoffrey turned into a large number of regular customers.
What do you find inspiring in fashion, art and design?
My father raised me with the idea: Be who and what you want to be, and this goes for style as well. That's why I think people are the most interesting ‘part’ of fashion, art and design. For example, at Paris Fashion Week, the people you meet there are so inspiring, nice and relaxed. They appreciate creativity and talent. In Amsterdam you find too much people with no talent but still act important. If you’re not famous or known, you’re not part of the ‘crowd’. I think that’s a missed opportunity.
In what ways do your personal values shape your work/business?
It’s important to me that people are not presumptuous. You can come to me at anytime. I 'm approachable - there’s no distance. At least, that’s what my customers say ;-). Furthermore, I prefer to work with less bigger brands or brands that are huge abroad but still unknown in the Dutch market. Because, with big brands the problem is that you often have to buy your collection a year in advance. But trends come and go, so it’s difficult to forecast what trend will be next. Normally, I try to respond to what I feel or notice is the latest trend. I love interchanging different styles and somehow connect it to the streets.
How has your attitude towards fashion, art and design changed as you've aged? How so?
Five years ago I was more interested in the appearance of clothes. Now I check the process, the fabric, the quality of the designs… Also I’m more aware of what it means to be a fashion designer. It’s more than collections and clothes. The best designers and the ones who present their collections on the runway have a certain fashion background. They have mastered this and made it their way of life. Needless to say, I'm not a fashion designer.
The fashion fest is about creating awareness. What does awareness means to you?
I 'm really a down to earth and realistic kind of person. Sometimes I think we blow things out of proportion. At the end of the day fashion is just clothing. You can make it as big and important if you want, by creating a buzz around it and by creating awareness. But clothing is something to make you feel good or a way to express yourself: It’s connected with the identity and the feeling of a person or generation.
How do you take awareness in account in your work?
My customers are very diverse. I’ve always had an open mind towards everything and everyone. That also goes for my feelings towards fashion. I focus mainly on what my customers want. Lifestyle is more important to me then, for example, the origin. Styles keep changing and that's the power of Fresh Inc. I’m not mainstream. People are different, everything changes and I do my best to keep up.
Can you tell us three designers that you find inspiring?
There are designers who have always caught my attention, from the very beginning. For example, Raf Simons, the Belgian fashion designer who worked for Dior and now for Calvin Klein. His style is haute couture and street at the same time. I love designers who can create anything and are not tied to a particular style. Or Rick Owens, an American fashion designer who works with lots of layers in his designs. He reflects a lot of what I prefer, like the color black. That’s also why I love the brand Saint Laurent. All the recent designs have a wearable rock-chic flavor. You can recognize some of these styles in the Fresh Inc collection.
Looking back on your life do any significant lessons stand out?
The business especially. Just everything I'm dealing with now. The moment I started with Fresh Inc. I didn’t have a clue. But I had a dream, a wish. I made all the classic mistakes that you can think of… Too many to mention. But you have to be able to give yourself just that chance and go for it.
What keeps you up at night?
Actually I don’t loose sleep. That’s just me. Like I said before: I’m realistic. It could be over tomorrow, or even today. You’re born with nothing and you die with nothing. Everything in between is just experience. A lot of people worry about what other people think and they’re afraid to fail. ‘What if it goes wrong ?’ My answer is: ‘So, what?’ Remember: opportunities present themselves everyday to everyone. Sometimes they’re not exactly what you want or expect, but it’s important to be alert and ready to act. And if you ‘fail?’. There’s always a second, and a third, and so on. Keep on trying until you succeed and you will.