Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From the Streets (and Canals) of Amsterdam — My Interview with Felicia Nitzsche of Dam Style

Dam Style is Amsterdam's best-known street style blog. Documenting the sartorial sensibilities of the famously quaint and progressive Dutch city, it makes Amsterdam itself one of the most stylish subjects of its photographs. Photos by Dam Style's team of photographers, who include Marta Baniukiewicz, Jianmin Huang, Cooper Seykens, Elza Wandler, and Felicia Nitzsche, feature vintage market-clad bicyclists amidst the blurred out backdrops of canals, cobblestone, and narrow, stacked houses. Below is my email interview with Felicia Nitzsche, the editor and co-founder of Dam Style. 

What’s the story behind Dam Style? What inspired you to start it and what keeps you doing it?

I think curiosity and my personal interest in fashion. I was already following a lot of blogs then and wondering why there wasn't any in the city I live in.

Together with a friend we made the first layout of the blog and took our first clumsy pictures. Since then it developed more into a platform with different photographers. 

Is blogging more a career for you or a hobby? Or perhaps something else besides?

More of a hobby, but you also meet new people and have opportunities through the blog.

What do the photographers at Dam Style look for in the people they photograph? What do you look for in the images you choose for the blog?

I encourage the other photographers to look more for characters and types instead of girls wearing the latest trends. I think it's really difficult to describe why you choose someone, sometimes a look does not translate on the picture and I won't use it on the blog, even though it might have looked interesting in real life.

Image by Dam Style
Is there an Amsterdam style? What, if anything, sets style in Amsterdam apart from other places?

Amsterdam is a cycle city, so in daily life it needs to be practical first of all (with exceptions of course), less high heels, more sneakers. Also Amsterdam has a lot of vintage markets and shops, which is represented in the style as well.

Image by Dam Style
The book you did with Kirsten Hanssen called Fashion Blogs is now out as a digital edition. It features interviews with a variety of bloggers from Susie Bubble to Mark the Cobra Snake. How did you choose the bloggers to feature in the book?

It was quite a long process, we started with the first sketches and emails in mid 2008. We came up with the chapter names on our own because we wanted to show the diversity that existed then. Some categories like street style were apparent. A book has a limited amount of pages so it was important to have a good international mix. The known and established names, next to new and local bloggers. Of course it was also a question of response, not all the bloggers we would have liked to include did reply.

For more info about the book, or to purchase a digital edition of it, go to

How much of your time does Dam Style take up, including promoting it?

I try to go out at least once a week taking pictures, and at least one hour for posting and promoting the blog, checking spam, replying to mail etc.

What do you do when you’re not doing Dam Style?

I work as a freelance graphic designer.

What do you think accounts for the popularity of street style blogs in recent years?

I think people are always interested to see what people wear around the world, of course because of street style blogs this is now easier then ever. It is also a question of a market that wasn't there in this scale before, magazines like iD had a few pages for street style at most, but it really exploded with a street style blog in every city. In this way it's clear to see the local and global trends, and everyone can pick their own favorites, you're no longer bound to your own city for style inspiration.

Image by Dam Style
What is the role of street style blogs within today’s fashion industry?

I think in the last 2 years street style blogs became a great way for professional photographers to get access to the fashion world. To show your work your skills etc. About the fashion industry, as far as I follow it I see that it has been taken over. Magazines and their online platform hire photographers from blogs or go out themselves to have their own little street style section on the site. Some photography agencies even started their own street style image banks. 

Do you attend fashion industry events? Is doing so a crucial part of street style blogging these days? Why or why not?

We don't really, most of them are night events and Dam style is mainly daytime shots, so in that way it's a different world, so i don't really pursue it. It also feels like bloggers are still a little exotic to the fashion industry in Amsterdam, only the personal style bloggers are really a part of that circuit.  

Image by Dam Style
What blogs do you regularly read? Who are some of your favorite street style bloggers?

I check a variety of blogs and online mags, from design to music, actually food blogs are my favorite at the moment.

In terms of fashion/street style I suppose I visit the regulars like the Sartorialist, Garance, streetfsn, tommy ton…many many more

I really like and Hel looks.

Do you have a favorite Dam Style post? If so, which one? What do you like about it?

Its just a great personal look and the portrait turned out very naturally.
Felicia's favorite post. Image by Dam Style.
I haven’t seen much in the way of ads on Dam Style. What are your feelings about advertisers, sponsors, paid content and the like on street style blogs?

In general I'm open to sponsors, it's just that it doesn't earn as much as it would take away from the design of the blog. For a while we did had an AA add on the site, but the earnings from that were little to nothing. 

We sometimes get offers to put up ads, including writing an accompanying article and receive a piece of the product in exchange. I think this is not really respectful to us. A print magazine also can't live from clothes or accessories in exchange for an add. 

Basically if the ad fits our blog and we would get paid accordingly I'm open for it. We do however sell pictures to magazines sometimes, which is a more appropriate way of doing business. 

Why do you use Blogger rather than WordPress, Typepad, or some other blogging service?

We started to use blogger because that was the medium at the time, a lot of bloggers were using blogger so it felt the public was there. 

The url was already taken. 

What kinds of social media do you use to promote Dam Style and why?

I started to use Facebook a couple of month back and it seems to have a good effect of drawing hits to the blog like RSS feeds. However I'm not pursuing it as rigorously as I should ; ) 

Image by Dam Style.


  1. I have enjoyed following Dam Style over the years. Great interview! It was fun to hear her perspective on everything.

    Such a beautiful city...

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