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In conversation with Baby Reni

Glamcult X Baby Reni

Baby Reni is the fresh-faced Amsterdam brand turning the boundaries of fashion on its head. The label, run by Rietveld graduate Irene Ha, is in a universe of its own, where seasons, borders and hierarchies have no place. Recently having dropped her BLISS collection, and bearing witness to the flames of creativity coming out of everything she does — we knew a collaboration was a must-do. Both straddling the underground scene, and as people-watchers and community-seekers by nature, our creative minds came together and quite literally put on our thinking caps. Bringing you the latest Glamcult Apparel drop, we are excited to share the Glamcult X Baby Reni baseball cap! Check out our convo’ with Irene, discussing her view of fashion and a deep dive into the inspiration behind this piece. Shop the hat here🍒

Hey! So good to be speaking with you, and celebrating this collaboration. Getting to know you, and the Baby Reni brand a little more — tell me about yourself and your approach to fashion?

I graduated from Rietveld academy, and have a very conceptual approach to fashion. This means that I don’t only do fashion, rather, I try to redefine fashion. I really like to play with schedules and launches and create my own landscape. With this, it means if I don’t feel like dropping a collection, I will do an installation or vice versa. Creating for me is based on how I feel, and how I want to position myself at that moment. When covid began, I started making my own DIY projects with friends and family, this gave us all freedom and allowed me to find qualities in other people’s work and merge that with my own.

You then have a very collaborative approach.

Yes. Not with all items — but a lot of items.

We first met at your graduation show! How did your schooling influence your vision of what fashion can be?

Rietveld gave me a lot of freedom. I was very specific in the fact that I wanted to learn a craft, but alongside that, I wanted to explore my heritage and see how that can relate to the broader world. It was all about finding a space for myself to express and investigate my identity. The teachers were also very supportive. I never wanted to be trained for the archetype of the industry… I always wanted a foot in fine arts, so the connections I made there were also great. The people I met at Rietveld are people I would have never met if I went to a more traditional fashion school, so for that I am grateful.

Finding people you connect with on a creative level is so important to anyone’s personal journey. 

Someone cheering you on! A lot of my work is about feeling lonely, a feeling I had particularly in the process of making. Often I would ask myself, ‘what the fuck am I doing?’, as I always had an idea of what the art of fashion should be. But my community, and the people I surrounded myself with, allowed me to break through these borders, teaching me that I did not need to stick to one path. I am trying to reformulate the structure.

Paying your rent without compromising creativity. 

Exactly.

How do you create this balance? 

I do this by combining editorial pieces with more commercial items –such as the scarf I did for the municipality. When you’re at art school, you are really living in a bubble, where the commercial is almost considered dirty. But actually, it is an entrance for more people to see my work.

I completely agree. Your latest collection told a really beautiful story, can you tell me about it?

At the time of creating this collection, I was really dealing with expectations from the outside world… especially in relation to the fashion-art border. So for this collection, I really wanted to encapsulate this grey space in between by having the presentation at a gallery (a very public space), but within an intimate setting. It sounds like a cliché, but I wanted to create the feeling I have when I’m in my bedroom.

As an onlooker, I saw a lot of hierarchies being broken down. 

That’s right. I wanted to give everyone the spotlight; the people starring in the show are those who I really admire. I had graphic designers, dancers and so forth walking. I really looked upon people’s initial qualities. It was also so great to work with the musicians! For the collection, I felt like I was grappling between two worlds — the fashion space, and my own universe — but the collection also had several other references, for example looking at Western fashion and traditional Vietnamese wear. My goal was to find the spaces in between all of these ‘worlds’ and see how they relate and interact with one another.

I saw you reworked a lot of traditional pieces, and kind of turned them on their heads… can you talk me through this? 

In the collection, I would take a piece, say a prom dress, and then made it into a super comfortable item. I reimagined the whole context around the item of clothing.

 

The creative community in the Netherlands is intimate, to say the least, how has it been for you to create in this climate? 

It feels really safe. I feel like I can reach out to people really easily, and with that, it can be easier to make a name. I have found that people are very receptive. Sometimes, however, it would be nice to see how the rest of the world would be! I’m beginning to think about expanding to different countries, but because I would describe a lot of my community as being within the Asian Diaspora — there is a sense of globality. It’s important for me to find spaces where I can be myself. Essentially, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, as long as you feel this togetherness with other people.

So… The hats! I love this collaboration. How was the idea for the design born? 

I actually never wear caps. So my initial starting point was creating a cap that I would wear! I wanted to choose a neutral colour that would fit anything, that I could then rework in a more fun way; the Baby Reni aesthetic. The hats are bleached, and here I was referencing the idea of decay… referencing a lot of items the tourist shops sell that have been hanging in the sun for a really long time, to the point where they essentially lose their colour. My friends were all wearing these crazy items that had been coloured by the sun … and I wanted to do the same. I didn’t have the time to let something sit in the sun for months, so I created my own type of bleach. I also wanted to make a cap that reflected the culture in Amsterdam. Glamcult stands for Amsterdam and the DIY vibe, so I also incorporated that.

I am so obsessed with the beading also… 

Yes, so the letters kind of look like the Toys R Us typography, which I thought was really cute. It has this feeling of childhood comfort and warmth, so slapping that onto the Glamcult logo felt cute and funny. The beads are also refurbished from older works and chains that I have used.

Your shows and collections work a lot with the idea of character-building. Do you have a character in mind for the hat? 

I really feel like anyone can wear it! The graphic hat, for example, could fit a more edgy character, whereas the butterflies could really fit a nice, cute person. The hat is versatile, especially combined with your own style.

What are your goals for the rest of the year? 

My goal is to find peace of mind. I want to leave the country for a bit, research and meet new people. I would also like to make a really big project again.

 

Shop the hat here! 

Glamcult X Baby Reni photography by Evita Shrestha

Words by Grace Powell