AaBe, a strong brand
The TextielMuseum in Tilburg will run an exhibition about local woollen mill AaBe from 19 December, 2013. The brand is renowned in the Netherlands for its beautiful woollen blankets bearing their signature logo of a reindeer and sleigh in a snowy landscape. In addition to an evocative historical overview of the company in six themes, visitors can also enjoy an ample selection of special activities.
Fifty years ago, the AaBe woollen mill in Tilburg was a household name in the Netherlands. Their warm woollen blankets could be found in every home. Yet, they were not only known for the quality of their products; their social employment policies set a new industry standard for decennia.
The company was founded in 1929 by Adolf van den Bergh, and the former Fatimastraat factory can still be seen today. AaBe was highly successful, even through the financial crisis of the 1930s. After the Second World War, the company grew to become the largest blanket manufacturer in the country, with almost 1500 employees. In addition to blankets, AaBe also produced clothing and uniforms. However, by the end of the 1960s, things were looking less rosy. Reorganisations, (unsuccessful) restructuring and job losses followed. In 1978, a much-diminished Aabe set up a successful branch specialised in producing fire-retardant fabric for the airline industry. The blankets too remain a fixture. In 1996 after filing for bankruptcy, the company starts afresh at a new location, and under a new name: Aabe Textiles. Then, only eight years later, the company is forced to close its doors. The 38 employees are made redundant.
The name lives on in the trade organisation AaBe Textiles Trading, which still flourishes in developing quality woollen blankets.
In the exhibition, all of these elements are brought to light in six themes: the historical context, AaBe 1929 – 2006, woollen blankets and more…, the social climate, marketing, and the AaBe mill today. Normally kept in the museum archives, now a wealth of material will be on display including everything from: the famous AaBe clock, blankets, fabrics, sample books and designs, to photos, films, portraits, images from the factory and much more.
Activities for visitors
The TextielMuseum has collected a large number of objects relating to the history of AaBe. But there are no doubt many more beautiful pickings from the mill’s long history. That is why the museum is calling on the general public to bring in their favourite objects and tell their story. The objects will be photographed at a special registration lab at the museum and added to the digital ‘Memory of Tilburg’, together with their accompanying stories. The nicest objects will also be displayed in the exhibition. Family, former employees and anyone associated with AaBe are welcome during the ‘AaBe Family Day’ on 16 February, 2014.
Interested visitors can talk to former AaBe staff on the last Sunday of every month, sharing their stories of a special time and a progressive employer.
Finally, to celebrate a company that is so interwoven with the history of Tilburg, the exhibition will end with a suitable finale. Check out the website, because we’ll be reaching out to aficionados in Tilburg!
To coincide with the exhibition, the products of Aabe Textiles Trading will take pride of place in the TextielShop. The regular collection will be temporarily expanded. Now you can also look to the TextielMuseum for that special, warming gift.
Founded by two young Dutch designers, Wintervacht breathes new life into these traditional woollen blankets by transforming them into coats and cardigans. Each one is unique and made by hand. Three beautiful new creations will be featured in the exhibition.
The exhibition will open to the public on December 19, 2013 and remains on view until March 16, 2014.