IN CONVERSATION WITH KEES HOLLANDER
What made you want to embrace this career path and what were the main challenges at the start of your journey?
I think fashion is the way to fully express myself. I have always admired different art forms, and I think fashion has almost all of this in it. During the whole design process, something develops from 2d to 3d and I really like seeing the build up of a garment . I have always had a fascination for the human body and film costumes, so the choice to study fashion was a natural one. Although I didn’t have a fashion background at the beginning of my studies, I knew pretty quickly that this really suited me. In a way, I think this had its advantages as it made me open to learning new things, and over time I have grown a lot as a starting designer.
As a designer, what is your mission to achieve for your artistic vision? I try to inspire people with my designs, and introduce them to styles that they may not be familiar with, or don’t really wear. I also like to use techniques from other cultures that we don’t often use. Learning these techniques is something that interests me a lot. In order to add this to my designs, I would like to pay attention to these techniques and the cultures they come from.
How do you describe the vision of your designs or brand?
I always try to stay close to myself with my designs, and base the looks on things that really interest me. For example, all my life I have been interested in body modifications and other adaptations such as tattoos and scars. And I am intrigued by how people want to distance themselves from each other and change their appearance to do so. There are also many oriental influences in my designs, and inspiration actually comes from all different places. Historical garments, which are full of functional details, and which were made for specific functions, is also something I admire and am interested in.
What is the criteria in choosing fabrics? Why do you use certain fabrics? I always prefer sturdy thicker fabrics such as thick cotton, denim and leather. I like it when the fabric already has a bit of ‘body’ to it, so that as soon as you start making something with it, it immediately gives you volume. I especially enjoyed working with leather during my graduation collection, as you can do many things with leather that change the appearance of the material. Drawing figures digitally and having them laser out, is something that works well for the way I work. Also reusing old leather jackets, and using these old pattern parts to create a new item is a fun way to come up with new looks. This immediately gives the garment the ‘worn look’ that is normally applied to clothing artificially, think of torn jackets and jeans.
How would you describe the labor process of your clothes?
It is quite an intense and time-consuming way of working. My designs are often filled with details and I love to top stitch everything, which makes it hard to make:). Also the leather ‘designs’, which are made of all the separate pieces of different colored leather, are first all laser out separately and then individually hand glued and top stitched in the right place (with the same spaces between each piece). And this is only the processing of the material. In short, it is time-consuming to make my designs, but I have a lot of fun doing it, and at the end of the day I am very proud of the end result and it was worth the effort.
What is your collection about?
My collection started with a fascination for the Rorschach test, a psychological test where mirrored ink blots on cards are presented to a person, asking what the person sees/associates with in them. The interesting thing about this old psychological test is the way people are categorized according to these ink blots. Therefore, I see each look as individual and has its own source of inspiration. Also, ink in all its forms can be found in the looks, such as stain tattoos and octopus details. Elements from army and outdoor clothing also feature in my collection. I find the functions of these clothes very interesting, and I try to use them as much as possible in my looks. In addition, I have also used a lot of fabric treatments within my collection, such as leather engraving and fur trim. I like to use different inspirations and unusual techniques.
How do you describe the vision of your designs or brand?
Every time I start a new look, I see the opportunity to realize a new source of inspiration in a look. When I design a collection, I like to see the looks separately. They are part of a collection but the attention and inspiration per look should still be there. Sometimes it is a good thing to give the inspiration an extra push, so that it comes across better.
As a starting designer, it is also good to clearly show what you stand for and what interests you. Especially now, it is important to discover yourself, and to find out what kind of designer you are. So I think it’s best to show yourself fully as a designer, so that you can make yourself as visible as possible to other designers.
What do you think about circularity , and do you incorporate it in your productions , if so what is your take on that?
I think circulation is important, especially in today’s fashion where everything is produced in large quantities and most of it ends up on the stake again. During my graduation collection, I did not work entirely sustainably but I was very careful with my materials. I think that the reuse of old clothes actually adds something and inspires you to create something new in a creative way.
Are there any other designers you look up to that maybe share your same creative perspective?
Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler are really big inspirations for me. They are designers who create fantastic looks and have an incredibly unique way of designing. You can immediately see if it is one of their designs. I always look up to designers who have their own distinctive take on fashion, and where you can really see what a look is based on. In their time, but certainly also now, their creations offer a lot of inspiration for young designers like me. I hope that one day I will have the opportunity to meet them in real life.
What is freedom for you ?
Freedom for me is that without worrying about what others think of you, you can do and say whatever you want to express yourself in a way that doesn’t involve others. In that sense, I am happy that I can do what I want, as it is important that everyone can be themselves.
CONCEPT & STYLING: @MICHAEL_GEERTZEN
SOUND DESIGN, VOICE, MUSIC COMPOSITION AND INTERVIEW: @__JOIAH___
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANCE: @TESSA.BOSMA