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Design duo Christiaan Maats and Dirk-Jan Oudshoorn take on the fashion conscious as well as the eco-conscious with sneaker brand OAT.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 17-02-2011

A high-top, tennis classic and a chukka all standard ingredients for a sneaker line, but how does this collection differ from your average sportswear brand? These ones are green!

Recently shown at Amsterdam International Fashion Week for the first time, Dutch sneaker brand OAT presents footwear with a story. Founder of the label, Christiaan Maats, explains: "The idea behind OAT is to connect people with their surroundings by telling an imaginative story with our products." During the catwalk show models pushed wheelbarrows with the designs perched on top as if sprouted from the earth; this is certainly storytelling. The label is already generating a lot of media and professional interest thanks to their part in the Green Fashion Competition during AIFW - where they claimed second place.

Armed with his vision, design ideas and brand name, Maats teamed up with Dirk-Jan Oudshoorn who is responsible for the research and development side of things. But a two-man strong team still can run into some difficulties, especially when aiming at the eco-friendly market. "It has been a long process filled with challenges," recalls Maats. "There were challenges to find the right materials, to gather information about materials, to test them and find the right way to work them into our designs." Eventually the right materials were selected, as the sneakers are made from biodegradable materials that should almost completely break down after only six months - depending on the environment.

"I'm an idealist," says Christiaan Maats of OAT, "so what I like most is being able to realize my vision and see if we can inspire people by presenting a perspective on things." So what is the vision of this brand-new brand? OAT offers a complete collection of sneakers based on the classic models you would find in most lines: a high-top, a chukka, a tennis classic and a casual boat shoe. Yet there is a difference as the aptly named Virgin Collection is made from a combination of natural materials such as hemp, cork and biocotton. Where many eco-friendly labels compromise on the style aspect, OAT comes up strong.

The designs are clear-cut and clean, contrasting geometric lines with the organic qualities of the materials used, giving the footwear its stand-out look and feel. Only white and the natural hemp shade are used on the shoes' upper, contrasted by a bright shade on the sole that symbolises one of the four elements. "It's the point of departure  for future creations," says Maats. "A blank canvas that invites people to wonder about other possibilities and future incarnations of the concept."

Click on the images to enlarge

Main image: photo: Coriette Schoenaerts
Other images top to bottom: 1.-3. AIFW photo: Peter Stigter 4.-7. photo: Marielle van Leeuwen

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