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The designs of Stitching Stories each tell their own story

November 1, 2023 4:00 PM
The designs of Stitching Stories each tell their own story

Foundation Stitching Stories' colourful designs can be recognised by thousands. Carmen Luijt and Guillermo Ware, founders of Stitching Stories, focus the label on designing clothes that tell stories. With sustainability and inclusivity in mind, Stitching Stories' collections are one-of-a-kind, not only in looks but also in the message the label wants to convey.

Carmen and Guillermo tell the story behind the label and how that very thing, storytelling, is central.

Stitching Stories

A label committed to diversity, inclusiveness, and sustainability. After completing a degree in Fashion Tailoring and the art academy in Rotterdam, Carmen set out to create a label that would embrace social issues in addition to fashion. Together with Guillermo, a teacher in addition to co-founder of Stitching Stories, the duo launched Stitching Stories in May 2021.

However, the idea of creating Stitching Stories goes back further, Carmen explains:

"Over two years ago we started realizing Stitching Stories, a concept that had been in the pipeline for some time. During Sneakerness Rotterdam in 2021, Guillermo and I wore one of our own designs and received very positive feedback on it."

This feedback was so positive, that Sneakerness approached them asking if they would like to be at the next event with their collection. No sooner said than done. In May 2022, Stitching Stories was at Sneakerness Amsterdam.

"We kind of saw this as our concrete starting point for the outside world," Carmen said.

The telling of a story

According to the duo, Stitching Stories is more than just a clothing brand.

"What sets Stitching Stories apart from other labels is that each clothing item tells its own story," Carmen explains. "Everything we do, we want to do as impactful as possible. So, social issues like sustainability and inclusiveness are high on our list of priorities."

Images Sneakerjagers

Stitching Stories collaborates with the Utrecht-based atelier Huis van Vrede, among others. This atelier brings together people who have fled their homelands and are recognised as refugees. The duo also offers workshops at schools and wants to give back to society in this way. In addition, sustainable and second-hand materials are used for each collection.

"Guillermo and I both come from families in which social issues are very important," Carmen explains. "It is therefore natural for us that with the clothes we design, we also give back to people and the world."

Guillermo adds: "In addition, with Stitching Stories, we want to return to the way things used to be when clothing making was a craft. All the materials for the collections are carefully selected, and the garments are handmade. Each item is unique. This also gives it its value."

Working method

The duo's approach is, therefore, very different from other clothing brands. Because Stitching Stories' garments are made primarily from second-hand or leftover materials, it can sometimes take some searching for fabrics that can be used in a new collection.

"Every collection starts with the design process," Carmen explains. "During this process, we also look for usable fabrics. Because we depend on the materials we find, we can't have our designs too concrete yet."

Once the materials and designs are in place, the designs are sent to the atelier in Utrecht for further elaboration. "What makes the use of these sustainable materials special is that each fabric is unique," adds Guillermo. "With our collections, we show that you can actually put down good and chic designs with second-hand fabrics and leftover materials."

In addition, unlike mass-produced clothing, no item is exactly the same. "We sometimes reuse a design, but then use a different fabric for this, for example," Carmen explains. "We don't want Stitching Stories to become a mass-produced item. It would be super cool if one day, everyone walks around in something from Stitching Stories, but even then you see that each garment is different from the other. That way it retains its uniqueness.

Sneaker-inspired designs

In addition to the current Stitching Stories collection, consisting of upcycled jerseys, jackets, and pants, Stitching Stories comes out with a specially designed collection every Sneakerness edition. "For the collections for Sneakerness, we take a slightly different approach," Guillermo explains. "For each collection, we choose a sneaker that inspires us and form an extensive collection around it," Guillermo says.

Guillermo's love of sneakers and the culture surrounding them goes back many years. "I've been interested in sneakers myself for quite a long time," he explains. "Since the first Sneakerness, I've been coming to the event regularly. It was always a dream to be at the event myself one day, it's very special that this has now become a reality." The passion for sneakers also translates into the Stitching Stories collections.

Carmen: "I was never really at home in the sneaker world myself. I already had a pair of sneakers but was actually introduced to that whole world through Guillermo. What makes the sneaker world so special is that it has a culture all its own; you can see this at Sneakerness as well."

Each Sneakerness collection focuses on a specific design, preferably a sneaker that Guillermo personally has in his collection. "That makes it more special anyway, you understand," he says with a laugh. In addition, the sneaker must have a special story. The 2022 collection used the Nike Air Max 1 'Atmos' pack as inspiration, a classic colorway from 2007, a beloved pair among OG sneaker lovers.

"With this sneaker we told the story of Japan, focusing on the turquoise color," Guillermo says. "Japan is very much about practical designs, so the collection designed around the sneaker had to embrace this as well. Also, the combination of the elephant print on the mudguard and the turquoise Swoosh was done for a reason and tells its own story about the colorway, we also brought this back into the collection."

Sneakerness London 2023

Since the first edition at Sneakerness, things have been going fast for the label. Last month, the duo performed for the first time at Sneakerness London, which had a completely different audience than the events in the Netherlands. "We got such positive feedback here, not only during the event but also on the streets," Guillermo says. "This positivity gives you a boost."

For the collection shown, the Air Jordan 1 High 'Shattered Backboard' was used as inspiration. "Besides the striking orange color of the sneaker, this colorway again tells a unique story," said Guillermo. Here, Guillermo is hinting at Michael Jordan's friendly basketball game in Italy in 1985. During this game, Jordan dunked the ball through the net so hard that the backboard shattered into thousands of pieces. "We looked at what elements we could use from this story to create a completely inspired collection," Guillermo said.

The collection came with a tracksuit that incorporated the lines of a basketball into the design. Carmen wore a corset made from basketballs, and Guillermo was seen in a basketball vest. "These outfits did evoke reactions," Carmen says. "But it was the tracksuits we wore on day two that were even more popular. Again, you can see that sneaker culture is open to new brands and initiatives, like Stitching Stories. There is a new wave."


Carmen and Guillermo look to the future with a positive outlook and have big plans. The studio in Haarlem is still full of unused materials and designs that will be realized in the future. "We have two big projects coming up next year that I can't say too much about right now," Carmen says. "In addition, we will be at Sneakerness again this year with our upcoming collection."

Making contacts, something in which Sneakerness plays an important role, is also an important issue for Stitching Stories. "Currently we are in the process of expanding the team," Guillermo explains. "In addition, we are active in many projects. This is very important to us." Which sneaker will serve as inspiration in the next collection, the duo does not yet know. "As long as it's a sneaker that inspires us," Guillermo says. "And tells a story," Carmen adds.

If you are interested in Stitching Stories' designs, take a quick look at their Instagram @stitchingstories__, or stop by their booth on November 5, 2023, during Sneakerness in Rotterdam.