Dezeen Magazine

Byborre updates traditional friar's habit for a new generation

Dutch clothing brand Byborre has collaborated with the Dominican Order of Preachers to create an updated unisex version of the friar's habit.

The New Habit capsule collection consists of several unisex garments, including tops, track trousers, tunics, hooded gilets and coats.


When designing the collection, Byborre researched the history of the order, which was established over 800 years ago. They discovered that, while traditionally Dominicans would only wear a habit, these days followers wear it on top of everyday clothes.


"When the Dominicans walked the streets, they wanted to be normal not drawing attention to themselves," said Byborre founder and creative director Borre Akkersdijk, who has also designed an all-in-one suit that cleans pollution from the air.

"Ironically, this is how they get noticed nowadays. We wanted to go back to the essence of the piece of clothing: showing that you are one with the people around you."


The collection needed to be flexible, suitable for any age, gender or location in the world – all while allowing wearers to alternate items as necessary.


Each piece is designed to be functional, with easily reachable pockets and hoods that double as rain coverage or an aid to solitary prayer.

The muted colour palette and use of raw textiles also references the origins of the Dominicans, who traditionally dress in black and white.


"It has become everything but a fashion collection," added Akkersdijk. "Our designs are the essence of a wardrobe; basically you would not need anything else."


"The pieces are basic and functional, they are made with what is at hand, but if you combine them they create their own unique Dominican form language."

Despite admitting to some initial reservations, after researching the order's history, Akkersdijk was drawn to its philosophy – which includes a focus on simple, practical design and using only the necessary materials.


Byborre plans to make the patterns for each garment open-source, so that each piece can be produced with local materials – also making them suitable for the climate they're worn in.

"How great would it be if the Dominicans eventually started their own label, with this collection as a foundation?" added Akkersdijk.

Photography is by Roel van Koppenhagen

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