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On a mission to raise awareness - Meet Allysia van Duijn

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

On a mission to raise awareness regarding social issues, especially inequality through her essays, art and fashion designs: meet Allysia van Duijn (22).

Personal Profile

Name: Allysia van Duijn


Studying Interdisciplinary Social Science, UVA, Fashion Designer.

Party personality:

A true dancer, you can find Allysia on the dancefloor at a party.

Are you more of a doer or thinker?

‘‘This is a difficult one. I think I’m a combination of both. I’m a taurus haha, we’re super determined but I also overthink a lot. I make a lot of lists, have a bullet journal etcetera so in that way I’m a thinker. But I’m active and like to work with my hands.’’

What is your favourite party outfit?

‘Definitely a dress because it looks good and is little effort, it’s only one garment. I also find it very comfortable. I prefer midi dresses or long with an accent on my waist. I mostly wear a lot of green, beige and brown, that’s my favourite colour palette. No heels but boots with a platform for example, to make it a bit more edgy. And big earrings, I love them.’’

Can you tell us what you do?

‘‘I’m currently studying Interdisciplinary Social Science at the UVA, but have previously done fashion design at AMFI. When it comes to writing, I mainly write essays on social issues and my view on them. I wrote an essay on how and why Black teenage boys in high school are being disadvantaged. I’m interested in topics such as inequality in education systems. I think these topics aren’t being talked about enough. My interests also come from a personal perspective, me being a partly Dutch, partly Afro-Surinamese woman and living in the southeast of Amsterdam influences my work. In one essay I wrote about the start of Kwaku Festival and how this related to the exclusion of Surinamese people in certain neighborhoods of Amsterdam. My last essay was about the precautions women take before leaving the house, and that we shouldn’t lay the responsibility in women’s hands, but focus more on the responsibility of cis men making women feel safer.

When it comes to design, it’s more of a side job next to my studies now. Last year, I made garments for the National Opera in Amsterdam. One of my last collections was about the koto. I used the traditional costume as an inspiration for the collection I was making. You see it mostly on Keti Koti, the celebration of the abolition of slavery. I used the koto and my grandma as an inspiration. I didn’t literally make one, but I used the prints and colours as inspiration. My other collection was for MAFB and was a collaboration for an exhibition in Museum van Loon ‘Aan de Surinaamse grachten’. In the museum are very clear tracks from the family’s connection to slavery, such as the family weapon that has two black faces on it but isn’t mentioned anywhere in the museum explicitly. Until that new exhibition came which showed the full history behind the museum. The museum looks very luxurious, which is made possible because of their use of plantations in Suriname. I named my collection ‘Luxe Ten Koste Van’, (luxury at the expense of) to raise questions about where this luxury really comes from.’’

Portrait: Didem Kirca

Runway photo: MAFB, Maikel Jay

Group photo: MAFB, XYV photo

What do you want to convey with your work?

‘’My mission is to fight for awareness regarding social inequality, by writing and using this as an inspiration for my designs and art. I want to keep everything I do very closely related to myself and what I find important. The garment I made for the National Opera was also related to these topics. The group Black Harmony sang in Sranan Tongo. It was the first-time that Suriname culture was really included in the Dutch National Opera.’’

What do you think needs to change in the creative industry?

‘‘Where to start! Haha. In my opinion one of the most important things is that education and the fashion industry need to become more humane. Working or studying in fashion shouldn’t come at the expense of one's mental health. Solving this issue starts in education and therefore fashion schools. The other thing that’s important is inclusivity, but not just ‘diversity’ to portray a certain picture. But inclusivity in the root of businesses and schools, regarding people in positions of power. I also think credits should be given to the source where creatives get their inspiration from, so no more cultural appropriation or stealing ideas from black culture. I have positive hopes for the future though! Generation Z is going to make a change.’’

‘’we shouldn’t lay the responsibility in women’s hands, but focus more on the responsibility of cis men making women feel safer.’’

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