What Essentiel Antwerp Wears: Sofie

Style What Essentiel Antwerp Wears: Sofie

25 octobre 2019

What Essentiel Antwerp Wears

Sofie Van Den Nieuwenhuysen


If you follow us on Instagram, you already know that the Essentiel Antwerp offices are dipped in color. From the pink walls in our showroom to the fashion choices our staff makes.

To give you a better idea of #LifeAtEssentielAntwerp and the people that live it, we decided to give you a monthly look into the different jobs, fashion styles and personalities that walk around those pink walls.


This month we sat down with Sofie Van Den Nieuwenhuysen, the Executive Assistant to the Creative Director, or as she likes to call it: the Anne Hathaway to Inge Onsea’s Meryl Streep.

“I loved working as a fitting model in the showroom so much that I asked Inge if I could come and work for Essentiel Antwerp full-time. Since she didn’t need a model every day of the week, I asked her if she knew the movie ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. Inge laughingly replied by asking if I wanted to be her slave, and I immediately agreed. [Laughs].”




Going after what you want turned out to be a smart move, you’ve been working at Essentiel Antwerp now for 4 years in total. What does the job you created for yourself actually entail?

“That’s an excellent question. [Laughs]. In short, my job is to ensure that Inge has everything to do her own job as efficiently as possible. The long answer is that I manage a variety of administrative tasks going from addressing incoming inquiries, to managing Inge’s calendar, liaising with all of the different contacts, making color cards for new collections, organizing mood boards, … As of recently, I’m also responsible for the selection of our models for our web looks, look books… I make the selection, and then Inge and the creative team decide.”


That’s a very diverse workload and a lot of responsibility. Were you thrown into the deep immediately, or did your role evolve over the years?

“It all started with fetching Inge’s coffee. [Laughs]. In a recent interview, Inge even said that I’m no longer her slave, but her full-on assistant. That was the real promotion. [Laughs]. No, all jokes aside, the job changed because Inge felt that she could trust me, and I grew up learning the ropes. I was so young when I started… Well actually I’m still young, I’m 23. [Laughs]. But I’m so close to Inge and Tom (De Poortere), always sitting next to them, listening to their insights, their choices… It’s impossible not to pick some things up along the way. From the technical parts of design to styling and creative decisions, I’m absorbing everything I can to keep evolving and growing in what I do.”




Since you work closely with Inge, we can imagine every day looks different?

“Definitely. A typical day doesn’t exist, but that’s what I love. When I enter the office, each day is different. What is typical is that I aim to be at the office before Inge arrives. That way, I can tackle my to-do list before she’s there because once she arrives, I’ll be running alongside her. All the practical things that I have to do are preferably done before or afterward.”


Working in fashion, you’re surrounded by amazing clothing every day. How do you pick your own office looks?

“Sleepily. [Laughs]. It depends on what I’m doing each day. If I know there’s something like a shoot on the agenda, I won’t wear heels because I know that I’ll literally be running all day. It also depends on how I feel. Sometimes when I’m tired, I simply pull out a pair of track pants, a sweater, and sneakers and go with it. Still cool, of course. Or I can get up early, go to the gym, take a shower, and suddenly get in the mood for a dress with heels… the works. It all really depends on my mood and calendar.”


Like you say, even track pants with sneakers can look cool and fashionable. What’s the key to a good outfit, according to you?

“Accessories. Basic jeans and a tee can become ultra-fashionable when you add a statement bag, heels, and a pair of oversized earrings. A good hair day also helps. [Laughs].”




We imagine that you’ve managed to build quite the fashion treasure cove yourself over the years. If there would be a fire (knock on wood), what would you save?

“Everything I can carry! Each bag and shoe I can find and take will be saved with me. [Laughs]."


Accessories are your weakness. What was the first memorable one you remember caving for?

“I’m obsessed with bags. The first one was from Anya Hindmarch, a pink one with ‘Poof’ written on it in large letters. In hindsight, I ask myself why I didn’t spend my first paycheck on a nice, timeless black version that will remain good for the rest of my life… but no, I went for pink and trendy. I still have it, though, and I’ll use it when I’m traveling cause it’s so easy.”


Would you ever suffer in the name of fashion, or do you believe in comfort before everything else?

“I’ve had quite a few blisters on my feet, so yeah, I’ll suffer. That’s stupid probably because each time that I get home, I wonder if it made a difference that I walked in those incredibly high heels all day. [Laughs]. The answer is probably ‘no, it doesn’t make a difference’, but in the moment I’m only thinking ‘this will be fine, it doesn’t even hurt’. [Laughs].”




Do you look at anyone for style inspiration?

“If I say, Inge, do I get a raise? [Laughs]. No, if I’m honest, not really, I think. I’m infected with the Hailey Bieber fever lately, though. And I love the designers of The Attico. I follow people on Instagram like everyone does, and every so often I’ll see something I like that I happen to have in my own closet, but most of the time it just comes from me. I don’t like to overthink things. It all happens organically.”


The question we have to ask someone who made her own path, what advice would you give to others who aspire to work in fashion?

“Don’t do it! [Laughs]. No, that’s not true! I’m going to say something very cliché, but it’s the truth: if you work hard, really want something and go for it with passion, it will happen. Not the other cliché ‘passion for fashion’ but simply passion. You need to be genuinely interested in the industry. Otherwise, you simply won’t last. This industry is so fast. I’ve never gone home crying or anything, but you need to be prepared to work hard and fast every day. That’s probably the case in several industries, but this is all I know. If you don’t love it, it will eat you up.”


Items worn by Sofie


Camel belted wool coat

Purple knitted sweater with contrasting sleeves

Faux pearl beaded hoop earrings

Black side lace-up leather biker jacket

Off-white and black striped ribbed-knit sweater

Camouflage-print cargo pants

Black leather combat boots

Burgundy cotton-jersey 'Fury' sweatshirt

Light blue floral-print mini dress


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