Nigeria & Syria form my roots for everything that I make or do.

Robbert Wefers Bettink

MAFB and het Tropenmuseum will start a blog about fashion fest. It will shed light on the cultural inspirations of different people and the things that inspire them. Such as Robbert Wefers Bettink, Clarice Gargard, Daan van Dartel and JeanPaul Paula. Topics as these -we think- are really important to make our talents aware of the fashion, art and design industry.

Our first blog post is an interview with Robbert Wefers-Bettink (30), one of the founders of Dick Moby - an Amsterdam based sustainable eyewear brand. Robbert grew up in Nigeria and Syria and moved back to The Netherlands when he was 10 years old. Growing up abroad; inspired by these cultures, outstanding craftsmanship and honest work - made him the person and the entrepreneur he is today.
Fond of life and nature, the surf is on whenever possible and when he’s not on his board he spends his time sailing seas.

What’s your story?

I studied Fashion at AMFI and after my graduation I started a fashion label in 2009 called Sober with Cissy Noordeloos. It all went pretty well; (inter)national press was very interested and so were tradeshows, but it was a difficult time to start your own clothing line, so we decided to move on. For a while I helped out some friends of mine at Atelier de l'Armée. When I met with Tim, he told me he had been walking around with the idea of starting his own sustainable sunglasses brand for about two years, and asked me if I was interested in helping him out, of course I was, and we started Dick Moby together. Dick Moby was crowdfunded very successfully and, with the launch of our optical collection just recently, we can proudly say that Dick Moby is more than sunglasses. Of course I have some other passions in life as well, beside (sun)glasses:  I love sailing, surfing and good food.

What do you find inspiring in fashion, art and design?

It’s a translation of the time that we live in, trying to capture the Zeitgeist in a product or an art piece.  It can be used as expression and as a commercial venture at the same time. You can even motivate people by making better products to change their lifestyle.

Can you tell us three designers that you find inspiring?

I would say: ACNE, Karen Walker and Stella McCartney.

What do you find lacking/bothering/frustrating about the fashion, art and design industry?

The way it uses a lot of resources and energy. We, and more specific: fashion/design brands should be more aware of what kinds of harm mass consumption does (socially and environmentally), instead of focusing on making quick bucks. However I also think that a lot of brands or companies only want to make nice products, without a clear vision. If you ask me; just a few are lucky or really good enough to make only beautiful products.

Name three countries you think were most special to travel to and why?

Nigeria, Syria and Italy. I think you can find inspiration and culture even in the Netherlands if you go remote enough. I find it difficult to tip a country as a ‘must see’, as a lot of cultures (if not all) are amazing and inspiring. I have written down Nigeria and Syria since I grew up in these two countries, and they are the roots for everything that I make or do. I appreciate the cultures, the crafts, the honesty and the functionality of the work they make. Italy, since it is 20 plus different countries and sceneries in one big country. They still make a lot of products themselves, a proud bunch of people.

The ‘fashion fest’ is about creating awareness. What does awareness means to you?

Awareness means a clear vision of the situation and the moment of time you live in. This can be on style level for example trends, but also on a bigger scale concerning what you should do on this point of time looking at your surrounding. We could try to be more mindful, to slow down a bit, and take time to understand how values influence our attitudes toward consumption, the way we live and work.

With this blog we want to create awareness around topics like gender, identity and diversity. Do you take these topics in account in your work, if so can you tell us how?

I make products for both parties (male, female) and I try to make the designs unisex. I am not actively challenging or communicating diversity. We do however try to create a strong identity around the materials we use and the brand we are building.

Digital technology and globalization ensure that the creative sector is subject to strong changes. What do you think these changes will look like?

It will give a lot of people the opportunity to reach the world just outside their doorstep. But it makes it more difficult to get noticed and reach the right people. Being unique is something that will slowly loose its importance. Your believes and your political views on the other hand will be getting more important everyday.