Meeting the man behind the brilliance of United Nude

Meeting the man behind the brilliance of United Nude

Jun 1, 2011 |  by  |  Fashion
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There are many people in fashion who I admire for different reasons. I applaud some for taking risks, others for being bold in their designs. And then there’s the exceptions to the rule that just go their own way. To me, Dutch designer Rem D. Koolhaas is one of those people. You may know him as the creative director of one of my favourite shoe brands United Nude. Recently, mister Koolhaas himself was in Amsterdam and I had the pleasure of asking him some questions.

How it all began

Although he studied to be an architect, the idea of designing buildings in a slow tempo was a bit too much for Rem. “I really wasn’t looking forward to being held back constantly by the wishes of clients,” he says. When he’s asked why he chose the name United Nude, his answer is clear and simple: “Originally, I wanted to name the company NU. But the trademark search provided some issues, so I felt like it had to change. We just decided to turn the letters around and when we saw that it spelled UN, United Nude was the best thing we came up with that fitted those initials. We want the name to be transparent and we want it to sound like a clear concept.”

The philosophy behind the brand is clear indeed. When looking at the collections, I can immediately tell that romanticism and architecture are two huge fields of inspiration for the designs. According to Rem, United Nude strives to combine fashion and art in a way that hasn’t been done before all too often. He even compares it to the world of hip hop, where different types of music blend together.

We wanted the name United Nude to sound transparant and like a clear concept.

The present and future

The brand managed to become incredibly big in a relatively short time. Collaborations with amazing designers such as Antoine Peters and Iris van Herpen are some of the highlights in Rem’s career so far. He also considers the launch of his Mobius shoe and the opening of the United Nude store in Amsterdam as a great achievement. Rem about the future: “I want to continue growing and making beautiful products on many levels. I also want to do more collaborations, it’s always so much fun!”

As you may know by now, I’m always very curious to know if successful entrepreneurs have tips for others wanting to do the same. Therefore I just had to ask for the golden tip. Rem: “I believe it’s important to do one thing at a time. Make sure that you’re business is strong and growing in one market before you branch out to the next. Also, make sure you have enough startup capital to get your business going and let it grow. And last but not least: if the .com for your business is no longer available, look for another company name.”

If the .com for your company isn’t available, pick another name.


The headquarters of United Nude moved to China a few years ago, so I was curious if mister Koolhaas ever misses Amsterdam. “I love Amsterdam as a city; it’s a very special and unique place to be,” he says. “All the water and canals make for a spectacular view and have a calming effect on me. I also love the architectural build that allows everyone to move swiftly, and the way Amsterdam people think; they’re quite open-minded.”

His favourite places in the city are his mother’s apartment on the bank of the IJ, and the United Nude store in the Spuistraat. Rem also lets me know that he considers Dutch shoe designer Jan Jansen as one of his heroes, and Iris van Herpen as a great upcoming talent. Both designers are very well known in Amsterdam.

To end the interview, I asked Rem if he had any shoutouts for our Overdose readers. “Not that many, just that we’re working on furniture next to shoes and that we’re in the process of making a United Nude car.” So there you have it: a remarkable man running an amazing brand and doing what he loves doing most. I’m just hoping to meet many more like him in the near future.

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