Challenging the classics

We challenge classic designs and materials with care and respect for people and the environment. To enable women who wear my clothes to feel at their best.

The creative mind behind Dutchess
Designer Gwen van den Assem, born in Sydney, Australia, from a Dutch creative family. After graduating the Academy of Arts St. Joost in Breda, The Netherlands, Gwen worked for several brands and styling agencies. Since 2005 she is the owner and designer of Dutchess. The design studio is located in the famous “van Nelle Fabriek” in Rotterdam, once it was a factory of coffee, tea and tobacco.


“Classic designs are my inspiration. They are so balanced and timeless. They bring out the best in women. I base my designs on them. Classic can become playful through the choice of materials. And classic materials surprise in contemporary design. I challenge the classics. We work with luxurious fabrics. For Dutchess it is needless to say that we produce our designs with respect and care to the people and the environment. Our clothes are made by small family businesses in Portugal and The Netherlands. Through the many years of working together we are able to result in a better product. Every single day we work on optimizing our designs, choice of materials and manufacturing. This in order to enable women to feel good at all times of the day.” – Gwen van den Assem, founder of Dutchess.

Design studio, a unique location
The creative process takes place in the design studio in the “Van Nelle Fabriek”, the monumental architectural spot in Rotterdam, for companies active in culture and design. This location is home to more than 80 big and small entrepreneurs and numerous international congresses and network events. A unique spacious building with lots of light. It has a tangible presence of the modern industry of the beginning of 20th century. From 1931 till the mid nineties the factory produced coffee, tea and tobacco.

In 1998 a group of enthusiastic investors took the initiative to an ambitious renovation and halfway 2000 “our” van Nelle Fabriek was ready to start in a new function. In 2014 the van Nelle Fabriek was placed on the Unesco World Heritage List.

Get to know the designer

Gwen van den Assem is the founder and designer of clothing brand Dutchess. In an interview with Trendstyle she talks about her fashion collections, her style, her work.

"Gwen van den Assem founded her own fashion brand – Dutchess –, something to which we take our hats off. No industry is as fickle as the fashion world with its cutthroat competition. But Gwen did not let that stop her. In 2005 she launched her first collection and since then Dutchess has grown into a full-fledged and inspiring brand in which everything revolves around stylish, high-quality clothing, clothing that you can wear season after season with endless pleasure. Classic with a twist, or also known as 'laidback luxury', as Gwen calls it." - Trend style

Read the article here.