As I mentioned in my last post, Utrecht’s former red-light street — Hardebollenstraat — is now the place to find lots of local and indie shops selling clothing, designs pieces, and much more. The large windows that were de rigeur for the previous tenants have remained in some cases and been redesigned in others. Each shop is putting their own stamp on the street.
Utca’s Finest is one of the new shops that has found a home in this revamped street. It has been around for a few years now, first as a webshop primarily and then in other locations and pop-ups around town. They are known for their various types of clothing that all promote Utrecht in a cool, urban, graphic style. Think hip hop, skateboarding, and tattoos.
Utca’s Finest is voor Utrecht, uit Utrecht (for Utrecht, from Utrecht). Utca is another way of saying Utrecht, sort of a street version, in the way that Utreg is a dialect version. But don’t take my word for it. I may be too old and too allochtoon. What I do know is that I love their style and plan on getting some of their shirts when I can make up my mind which to get first. U’tje Tattoo, Utca 030 (030 is the Utrecht area code), or the Utca Crest. And then there’s the scarf that is sadly out of stock! Plus there’s all the cool stuff in the brick-and-mortar store on Hardebollenstraat. Choices!
It’s located across the street from the mural I posted about yesterday. In fact, you can see the mural reflected in one of the Utca’s Finest windows. So if you want a special Utrecht gift or just want to wear your Utrecht pride on your shirt/hat/sweater, stop by Utca’s Finest. And if you can’t make up your mind what to get someone, they also have gift certificates so your recipient can be the one to struggle making a choice!
I’ve written before about the fantastic Zelfgemaakte Markt (handmade market) held a few times each year in Utrecht at Mariaplaats. Every time I go, I discover something new that I fall in love with and I’m constantly impressed by the quality and talent on display.
Last year, I discovered the wonderful Studio Ellessi and her exceptional ink drawings of various spots in Utrecht, including the Domtoren and Café Orloff (both now in my collection).
This year, at the market in May, when I went to pick up the Orloff print, I noticed the work of Toepas Creaties. Among the items on display were vases and candle holders made from wine bottles. As we were weeks away from opening our wine bar, I couldn’t help but think their work may be perfect for us. Unfortunately, G wasn’t with me that day, so I held off on purchasing them, but when I told G about them, he was definitely interested. Fortunately, you can also find some of Toepas Creaties’ pieces as Spring Stores on Voorstraat. It’s a great concept store that gives smaller designers an affordable place to show and sell their wares. That’s where G had the chance to see the wine bottle candle holders in person and agreed that they’d be ideal for Vino Veritas.
We ended up getting in touch with Toepas through Instagram and recently placed our order. The wood bases are made from cast-off wood from a wood factory and the wine bottles are all recycled. I love how they have upcycled these materials into something fun and stylish. They also make bags, lamp shades and such from recycled banners. With the candles (although I forgot to take pictures), the diamond-shaped bases allow for the pieces to be put together in fun shapes, as well, so the potential for display options are extensive. They also come in different colours, so you can mix and match or go for all one colour.
They had some additional designs with them when they came to deliver the candle holders and we couldn’t resist getting a few for the front window. These are taller, round, wood bases, mimicking the bottle base, and they come in various heights.
If you’re interested in seeing the candles for yourself, come visit us at Vino Veritas. Or if you want to purchase some for yourself, visit Spring Stores, or come to the next edition of the Zelfgemaakte Markt, which is taking place this Saturday (30 August)! Seriously, go to the market if you can. You’re sure to find something that you’ll absolutely love.