Emerging from Dutch and Italian roots, women’s clothing brand no man’s land lies at a crossroad where Dutch comfort and Mediterranean elegance meet. With a penchant for timeless and high-quality fashion that puts pure materials in the high seat, the label designs for those women wanting to stand out through the most subtle and sophisticated details.
Walk into the kitchen of any Italian family and be surprised by the warmth and dedication to a fine quality of life found there. Alongside wine from self-grown grapes and the sense of fresh-baked bread, it is mainly the tangible passion to want the best for the family that hallmarks the Italian spirit. The same passion and commitment defines high-end fashion label no man’s land, who want nothing less than excellence for its retailers and customers. After all, they are considered family.
‘It all started with a turtleneck’
It is 1983 when Anet Ooijman (the Netherlands) and her partner Salvatore Cascone (Italy) open the doors of Cascone & Co: a multi-brand agency for several Italian clothing brands targeting the Dutch and Belgian market. “I often found that Italian fashion lacked the right adaptation to Dutch standards and sizes,” Ooijman starts, when asked about the start of no man’s land. “Trousers that were too short, jumpers that were too small, and so on. When discovering the manufacturing known-how of North Italian producers – mainly family companies -, we decided to set up our own agency and to work with various producers.” While Ooijman is in charge of the fashion and production side, Cascone takes care of the business side of things.
The idea to start a fashion label came ten years later – after repetitive requests from their clientele – upon which the duo started the production of a selective high-quality items. Among them was a wool turtleneck made from merino wool: an exceptionally soft, naturally breathable yet warm fabric relatively unknown in the Netherlands. The turtleneck quickly earned the spot of best-selling item – and has not left its spot since then.
Central thread in all designs is the use of high-quality, pure textiles made from the finest yarns. They are made into timeless classics greatly honouring fit and comfort that suit both old and young and withstand the test of time. “I design for the woman who values the owning of a few timeless classics that will grow old with her,” Ooijman continues. “She loves to stand out. Not by extravagant details or shimmery fabrics, but by her own classic and personal style.” When asked about what inspires her, Ooijman emphasises her love for beautiful fabrics. “When I first see and feel a fabric, it seems like it tells me what sort of clothing item it is meant to be,” she smiles.
Both its Dutch and Italian roots are found in no man land’s signature, with womenswear that is equally subtle and comfortable as elegant and classy. “Compared to the Dutch, Italians are willing to sacrifice more comfort in the name of fashion,” Ooijman laughs. “Dutch women get up in the morning, jump on their bike, and go to work – so their clothing has to be very wearable. Italian women are more exuberant. Both elements leave their hallmark on our designs.”
Made in Italy, worn beyond
no man’s land has its headquarters on the former island of Marken, in the Netherlands. Their design studio lies close to the stunning city of Venice, which designs for representatives in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Finland.
The far majority of production still takes place in Italy, with a big preference for family-owned companies which value tradition and personal contact. “It is an Italian thing: the front of the house is for living, the back for producing,”Ooijman says. “The level of traditional craftsmanship in Italy is unmatched, while the use of modern production techniques keeps innovating.” Specific fabrics such as real Chinese silk are imported from – not surprisingly – China.
Ooijman’s focus has always been on the production of exquisite items, which are sustainable in the purest sense of the word. She learned fashion at her (grand)mother’s knee, who made clothing for herself and her (grand)children. “We used to get up early to finish our knitting or sew on a new button,” Ooijman laughs. “I don’t know anything else than making sustainable clothing in a responsible way. Clothing is not to be disposed quickly: it is personal, reflects who you are, and must be made with love.”