Talking Fashion: An interview with Laurens Blok – CEO of Van Gils

Can you tell us a bit about the collaboration between The Dylan and Van Gils?
Yes, absolutely. We recently started working together on a unique service feature, offering all guests the possibility to order a high-quality shirt. Our mission is to support men on their road to success. We’ve translated this together with the Dylan into an “Every Man Needs a White Shirt Service. The process is rather easy: each guest will find a clothes hanger in their room with a Van Gils tag, which directs them to the front desk to instantly order a high-quality shirt. The advantage is that we can deliver the shirt at any time of the day since we always have plenty available at the hotel. And in the rare case we’re running out on a few, we can supply the hotel straight from one of our shops in the city.
Additionally, if any of the Dylan’s guests is looking for a great outfit (which can range from a tuxedo to a smart casual look) we can also take care of personal tailoring, right in the hotel. The room-service concept in that sense is only the beginning of a strong partnership with the Dylan.

Sounds good. So why do we need to wear Van Gils?
Easy. Van Gils has been a Dutch iconic lifestyle brand in the market of premium quality clothing for the last 70 years. We use our Dutch heritage to focus on the authentic man of today. You could say that the Dutch style is slightly rocky and not always too serious if you compare it to the flamboyance of Italian designs or the minimalism of the Scandinavians.
This also means that we serve the authentic man on his rocky road to success and give him confidence along the way. We simply know that success is not a straight line upwards, it comes with plenty of ups and downs. That is the story we bring forward through our designs and the reason why our brand is represented by a few crosses: “no stitches, no story”.

And how does Van Gils match with the Dylan in that respect?
First of all, both fashion and hospitality strongly reflect a lifestyle. Anyhow, whether you select your next hotel or a new jacket, in both cases you do not only consider quality and price. You want to feel comfortable with the place or clothing since they should match your identity.
Then, to answer your question, The Dylan focuses on the highest tier of quality. Just like us. The hotel gives people a certain feeling of trust and confidence while travelling. These are the same values we’d like to communicate to today’s authentic man.

Back to the shirts. When do we know it’s a good one?
Well, curiously enough, it does not always depend on the features that fashion experts bring forward. These people would probably say that quality comes with marble buttons and fabrics from the best Italians mills, but we understand that not everyone needs a silk shirt for instance. When you’re a businessman and travelling, you want a clean white shirt that doesn’t wrinkle, has the right fit and feels comfortable.
To give you an example: I once met up with 35 friends and asked them what a good shirt means to them. Only one friend mentioned the source of the fabrics, the other 34 were more interested in the durability of the shirt and whether it’s easy to iron. By keeping that in mind and considering our target market, these are the features we need to focus on while maintaining an ever-high level of quality.

And how would you say we need to wear a shirt?
Good that you’re saying that. We like to answer that question for our customers every day again. Our designers and retail specialist work on this topic continuously because, in the end, we sell more than just a product: it’s the entire look. That means that we focus on combining and matching our products while keeping the total look in mind. This is the reason why we make suits of which the jacket can be worn independently with a chino, for example.

Is that something you’d like to wear too?
Yes, I love jackets. And I like ties too by the way. They are very trendy now, but therefore commercially not very attractive, unfortunately. I would wear them to a fashion fair but when I meet with friends or do business there is usually no tie involved anymore.

And which style advice would you give our guests who visit Amsterdam?
I would say, please show us that clothing makes a difference. What bothers me, is that most Dutch men are quite passive in their style. Woman in this country always look impeccable but the typical Dutch man usually just pulls anything out of the closet. My message to international travellers is therefore; show us what you’ve got and impress the Dutch.

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Press Inquiry

The United Kingdom: Becky Wickerson Mason Rose at

Outside The United Kingdom: Robbert van Rijsbergen at

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