For our brand new GERMAN ISSUE, we hooked up with Spanish laser/technology company Jeanologia and asked five German personalities to send us their very own artworks to be lasered on a personal denim jacket, kindly provided by Levi's. One of them was Stephan Schneider, living proof that Germany does have fashion talent, although he runs his eponymous brand from Antwerp for more than twenty years now. In fact, Schneider is one of the few German designers who serves an international clientele-with renowned customers from Harrods to Dover Street Market.
How important do you as a designer consider trends? Do trends still have any importance at all?
Trends are unimportant to me as a designer. My collections are sold in a few selected stores all over the world, which have represented my collection signature for many years and want to give their customers a bespoke shopping experience. Trends are more at the level of ready-to-wear clothing than in the conceptual niche market.
How sales-driven should a designer think (and act) today?
Fashion should always awaken a yearning, that is a yearning to create something we don’t yet have.The designer doesn’t think about the great mass of people who should feel this longing, but more about a fictitious buyer group that doesn’t yet exist. For all designers it is a confirmation to see their designs being worn, and as a result commercial success is their goal.
Has catwalk fashion lost its connection to what people wear from day to day too much?
The street is becoming more and more street, and people are drawn to shopping or working more and more based on factors like comfort and practicality. The catwalk is only a purely idealized image of the collection, not of reality. And it should stay that way. That is the difference between fashion and clothing.
See now, buy now–a realistic and helpful approach, or merely a marketing tool?
For me a piece of clothing becomes more valuable when I have to wait for it ... the time taken for looking, which store has it in stock and in what material, in what color it has been produced. Looking for an article increases the longing. After all, we don’t celebrate Christmas in July because we don’t want to wait so long.
Does e-commerce cater to the approach of high-end designer fashion?
Expensive fashion focused on glitter and sex is easier to sell online than conceptual collections, where it is not about individual piece but the collection’s statement emerges with silhouettes from different articles of clothing.
In times of social media (especially Instagram) do you think differently about designs and the impact they might have in a photo or a video?
My customers, yes. I myself, no. Because some of my customers only sell my collection online, the choice is often influenced by a clear visual statement rather than a clever cut.
What are typical clichés about designers and their own way of dressing? And does this apply in Belgium as well as in Germany?
The cliché, but the truth as well, is that although while working they are occupied with external appearance all day long, designers themselves always look relaxed and free of care. In my opinion, exceptions such as in the Versace house or Chanel do not confirm the rule.
What collections/designs of other designers/brands do you consider interesting?
What motivates me is the energy in collections from independent brands where the CEO is also the designer, such as Dries van Noten, but also Prada.
Do you have (famous) role models when it comes to fashion and style?
Sadly, there aren’t any pop stars anymore who wear designer outfits, the way Brian Ferry did in Comme de Garcons or Les Rita Mitsouko in Gaultier in the 1980s. For me, the red carpet outfits seen over the past few years make no fashion statement.
What’s missing in fashion right now?
What I miss most is opportunities to wear fashion... There is no need any more to go to the trouble of dressing up: Clubs don’t have bouncers anymore and there is no tulle anymore, only T-shirts and tattoos.
How would you describe your design style?
In my collections I try to meld contradictions to produce clothing that projects an irritation factor: As a result my pieces don’t seem arbitrary, but spontaneous all the same, greatly simplified and as a result sophisticated and traditional, but never classical.
You grew up in Duisburg. Is there something like a typical “Ruhrpott style,” and what does it look like?
The Ruhr region represents uncomplicated honesty. The way things look is by contrast unimportant.
Today fashion collabs of any kind (whether between brands, brands and designers, brands and celebs, or brands and stores) are becoming more common–what’s your opinion on that?
Collaborations come into existence in the marketing department, and I am no fan of that. I don’t know of any strong product that arose from a collaboration, because the creative design stays in the background and brand communication in the foreground.
What sources do you use to find out about fashion trends?
Only at the level of entertainment in tabloids.
What’s your favorite denim brand?
I prefer to wear my own pants, sometimes they are denim.
What brand was your first pair of jeans?
By Katharine Hamnett–actually I only bought them to have the experience of buying something in her fantastic shop on Brompton Road in London.
What do you always carry in your pants pockets?
They are often empty.
What’s the most expensive piece in your closet?
My suit from Abiball by Yohji Yamamoto for (at that time) DM2,200 ... caused a bit of a commotion at home...
...and what’s the cheapest?
A polo shirt by Uniqlo for Ɏ900.
What fashion purchase do you regret?
None, because I shop far too carefully. I’m not an impulse buyer.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing in your closet?
Fortunately that always come from my own collection. At the moment a shirt from the winter collection with knitted sleeves.
What would you never ever wear?
A T-shirt with a (deep) V-neck.
Fashion shopping: online or in a store, and why?
Only in a store. I buy based on the feel rather than the look.
Where do you shop/what are your favorite fashion stores? And in what kind of store would you never shop?
I mostly feel inspired to buy in stores that stock my collection, such as Dover Street Market, Opening Ceremony or in stores of my Japanese clients. To me, Japan is a real purchasing catalyst.I would never shop in stores of luxury corporate groups such as LMVH or Kering. To me that has nothing to do with fashion anymore. It is pure marketing instead.
What fashion sins have you committed in the past?
I take virtually no photos in my spare time. My sins such as the tweed crown by Vivienne Westwood or a roll-collar pullover with Cyrillic letters by Jean Paul Gaultier bring back so many memories that they document junctures in my life like photos, and I regret nothing about that!
... and now some either/or questions:
Rolex or Apple Watch?
Supreme or Louis Vuitton?
Neither nor, the product is weaker than the brand.
Wallet or loose change in your pocket?
Record player or Spotify?
Cinema or Netflix?
Los Angeles or Miami?
Celebs or influencers?
Jay-Z or Kanye West?
Mariah Carey or Kim Kardashian?
Find out more about the stars and shapers of our GERMAN ISSUE in the brand new print magazine or check the digital magazine here.