by Chris Wormhoudt on May 03, 2023


Oncewewerewarriors was founded in Amsterdam in 2016 – born into a world of chaos. The story behind the brand is the story behind the oncewewerewarriors uniform, the tracksuit of the future. Bas Berkvens, co-founder and head of design explains:

From the outset, the oncewewerewarriors brand has been seen as the underdog of the Dutch fashion industry. We don’t obey to the rules, dominated by today’s new era of fast fashion. Instead, we’ve created our own story, combined with comfortable high-quality gear.

The days when brands could make it into the best stores and warehouses, purely by creating beautiful pieces are long gone. Nowadays, social media is key, often overshadowing the product completely. We also need to be visible on the web to attract the warriors out there. As a fashion brand, we create top-quality pieces that tell a unique story, captured in our payoff: “BORN INTO A WORLD OF CHAOS”. We unite the underdogs of all generations, especially today’s “Gen Z”. Since the brand’s start in 2016, our story has never been as topical as it is today. The world is burning, the world is in chaos.

When asked about the kind of fashion we carry, whether we fit into any of the existing categories like sportswear, streetwear, casualwear or high fashion, we respond as follows: “Of course, we are all of the above, but we are also none of the above.” Ultimately, however, our reply must read: “We’re a high-end, 

story-driven concept brand.” Essentially, we just do things differently. The core of our design signature as well as the core of the brand is always reflected in what I call “refreshed classics”. The past offers so many gems. This is something I’ve always embraced and honoured. But in order to truly make a piece your own, you have to give it a personal touch, create your own DNA as it were.


The brand’s mixed influences combine to create a unique cocktail expressing this DNA, encapsulating timeless warrior storytelling, classic sportswear shapes, functional army surplus detailing, early 80s anarchic punk messaging and mid-90s grunge layering. A brilliant blend of the best-of-the-best from the past.


The brand is full of story, full of personalised detailing. We call this “all things mean”. All the text, all the numbers and all the details are used for a solid reason, never random or derived from a trend. The pieces carry a lot of anarchic text labels like my all-time favourite 80s punk-scene statement: “nation of sheep, ruled by wolves, owned by pigs”. Even our size label boasts a brand message: “your mind is your best weapon”. Our main logo, clearly displayed on the detachable badge, shows the ancient samurai mask linked to the beautiful heritage of Bushido, the rich history of the Japanese samurai. It represents the ultimate warrior, always flawlessly dressed for battle, always ready to control chaos. The symbol of the samurai mask embodies all the values we stand for as a brand. That’s also why there has always been a Japanese signature on each piece we create.


The warrior’s conviction of fighting for a greater goal lies within all of us. But no one is born a warrior; you have to become one. Every generation has its heroes. There are still warriors out there. There will always be underdogs on the planet who have to fight their way up.  

Gen Z, the youth of today, have certainly been born into a world of chaos. They have to hustle, try to work their way up in a world full of war, political misguidance, pollution, climate change and hopelessly overpriced housing. They will unite and rise up to fix their predicament. They have to; they need to in order to secure the future.

Years ago, we started developing a uniform for the warrior of today, for the ones that fight back, the ones that stand out. A tracksuit that is both super comfortable and stylish at the same time, a tracksuit that is different from all others, a tracksuit that will unite them. Not a sports tracksuit!

Launching our brand’s new campaign, positioning our uniform amidst the chaos of today’s world, can be seen as a tribute to the troubled youths of Gen Z. This ties in with our brand’s philosophy. Our samurai logo badge has been updated to poppy red, symbolising an alarm button for the planet. And the new colourways embody all the shades of the planet (the earth, the sky, the sea), expressed in browns, greens, greys, off-whites and blues. The tracksuit of the future – born into a world of chaos!