Do we consume too much fashion? Are we being typecast, as men and women, in rigid stereotypes that prohibit us from breaking free? Do the clothes you wear say something about you and the way you see the world? Can we create a more ecological, sustainable and ethical world of fashion?Stefanie Barz – Photo: Alexander Malecki
In Maastricht, we got to see her latest project, “Canklan”, a daring collection of dresses for men. With her previous collection, “AudioVision”, she turned her favorite songs into sophisticated garments. A strong believer in slow fashion and responsible consumption, she is constantly questioning her methods of production and the ethics that should be a part of the fashion industry.
We here at So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins spent some time with her and she had some interesting things to say…Audio Vision – Photo: Florian Penke
SO CATCHY!: When and why did you decide to focus your life on Fashion?
STEFANIE BARZ: I always had a strong interest in the way people dress in order to express or rather find their identities. Furthermore I could expand my creativity involving the different dimensions of clothing – sculpture, structures, colours, patterns, proportions, functionality – all connected to the physical appearance of the body, in relation to the human condition. I perceive my work also to be highly conceptual and driven by questioning the standards of fashion production.
SC!: What are you doing now and what’s your next challenge?
EB: Right now I am working on a project in collaboration with a German eco fabric supplier. I aim to find modern and effective solutions for using up remnants of fabrics by patchwork and zero waste pattern design. These clothes should be available in partly unisex sizes, too. In the future I will keep on investigating the potentials for a more sustainable and ethical fashion industry. The latest launch of my online magazine aethic.de is a good starting point, I assume.Audio Vision – Photo: Florian Penke
SC!: Let’s talk about Audio Vision… Music and Fashion.
EB: The challenge of my Audio Vision collection was to get to the bottom of a deep individual creative source that remains unaffected by images and trends as far as possible. In a combination of sensual and thoughtful processes, I visualized each of my favourite songs by transforming it into a silhouette in matters of shape, colour and textile surface. I never lost focus of melting all of them into a greater picture of my intuitive associations and subjective translation schemes. This unconventional approach provided a lot of stimuli and possibilities to reach a surprising outcome, which can be directed towards a certain style just as well.Canklan – Photo: Hannes Meier
SC!: How did you come up with the idea of creating dresses for men?
EB: Canklan stands for men that dare to overcome stereotypes of gender practice by wearing clothes that are typically denounced as ‘unmanly’, but are actually not. I was asking myself why men of western civilization could not experience the same freedom and individuality as women find in fashion. Especially regarding the dress-like garments of men in Arabic and Asian cultures as well as religious togs and historical costumes of all kinds. I wished to create acceptable dresses for men that make a difference.
SC!: Is society ready to see men wearing dresses?
EB: Totally. It has started already within minorities (niches?). The new generations are open; they can even enjoy it – next to older generations that learn to deal with it or conservatives that are simply afraid of change. Of course it depends also on what kind of dress we are talking about.Canklan – Photo: Hannes Meier
SC!: Is the feedback you’re getting the way you expected it to be?
EB: Yes, this is the parting of the ways. But most men reacted positively, even though they could not all imagine wearing a ‘dress’.
SC!: Where can we buy them?
EB: I will offer an online order on demand option soon, please follow my website, canklan.com. But on top of that I am looking for an investor who can help to set up a commercial business in order to lower the price of a Canklan dress.
SC!: Apart from Canklan, what are you designing?
EB: Yes, I hardly ever stand still. I always look for new challenges – I see so many aspects of the fashion world that can be improved. At the same time I am into costume design for musicians, stage and theatre, too. My greatest experience was to outfit Lady Gaga with my creations in 2014 during her press tour and for a gig at the iTunes Festival in Austin, Texas.
SC!: What’s your impossible dream?
EB: It might sound absurd, but in my utopian world, we would not consume clothing the way we do nowadays, referring specifically to fast fashion. Everyone would possess only a few individual outfits of handcrafted heritage that would be embellished over time and in that way develop with us, as a part of us. My job then would be to help the others to find their personal characteristic pieces and continuously work on them.
SC!: Fashion is in need of…
EB: More deceleration & appreciation.
SC!: Instagram accounts or fashion magazines you follow…
EB: i-D, DazedDigital … and I am curious to check out the new Sumzine magazine on slow fashion.
SC!: Labels or designers you truly admire…
Photos courtesy of Florian Penke, Hannes Meier, Alexander Malecki and Stefanie Barz
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla