The Netherlands did not play a role in the development of international fashion. Traditionally Paris always set the trend. However, Hollywood’s influence from the 1920s onwards meant that America played an increasingly important role.
The relatively small circle of Dutch women who could afford haute couture bought their clothes in Paris or, like the Sonnevelds, had their seamstress copy Parisian patterns. From the beginning of the twentieth century there were Dutch fashion houses, such as Hirsch & Cie in Amsterdam and Maison Kühne in The Hague, where a chic clientele could buys copies of French couture.
Gerzon, which established a branch in Rotterdam in the early twentieth century, was the first fashion house to sell ready-to-wear garments in addition to haute couture. The service was no less sophisticated: the garments were delivered to the customers’ homes.
In the 1920s Dutch menswear was still strongly inspired by England, but in the 1930s American trends became more influential. Because American clothing factories employed stylists and design agencies, America regularly introduced new ideas that were quickly taken up in Europe: menswear became less stiff and more comfortable, employing lighter materials such has cotton and more colour. Photographs show that Mr Sonneveld dressed in this American style. He may not have been a trendsetter, but he was certainly following fashion in his well-cut suits in supple fabrics.