Rebekka Bach, Women's Design Manager at G-Star, on flattering your assets and other female design demands plus dining with Pharrell.
Sportswear International: What’s the most important thing when it comes to designing women’s jeans? Is it all about fits, fits, fits?
Rebekka Bach: As for the designers on the women’s team, we look at every detail of the denim and continue to fine-tune it to give women that perfect fit and make their body look great. We have specialized designers who calculate the perfect back pocket shape and its placement for each denim. It’s an essential ingredient of a flattering jean. The width between the pockets, the shape and even the color of the stitches can work wonders for your assets; we call it the magic of the back pockets. The same importance is in the placement of the side seams. For example, we discovered that when moving these seams slightly forward, this optically slims your legs. At G-Star we don’t consider ourselves fashion designers when it comes down to our denim; we’re more product developers and always in search for ways to improve that product.
How is girl power reflected in your collections for G-Star?
The girl power is shown through the confidence to challenge masculine garments such as military jackets, biker pants, boyfriend jeans and denim shirts…I am in general inspired by menswear garments and vintage spacesuits and I like to play with tomboy elements. I find it empowering to wear cool and comfortable clothes like the guys rather than always a dress or a skirt. This makes me feel I can express my personality.
Do you feel that there is an increased demand for raw women’s denim these days or is it still all about comfort and stretch?
There is definitely an increased demand for raw and rigid denims. Just like skinny fits, stretch fabrics will always be around and we will always offer them. But at the moment the tendency is moving more towards rigid fabrics. We love the authentic look and feel of rigid denim; it feels more like real jeans. We like to apply these authentic fabrics to our modern 3D design philosophy which results in fresh modern styles with classic denim feel to it. The rigids that we use for women are normally below 11 oz though; we try to keep it somewhat soft and wearable. Also, it’s all about the combination: A rigid boyfriend jean can look super feminine when you combine it with a pair of heels or a classic white shirt.
What can do better than your male colleagues? What’s the female super power?
I am not sure I can do better than my male colleagues. But I do think the biggest difference in male and female collections are silhouettes. Womenswear tends to allow more extreme and fancy silhouettes than menswear and that’s what I find fun and challenging.
Which fits, fabrics washings are you betting on in women’s denim for fall/winter 17-18?
During 2017/18 we will release several new 3D jeans and some very new collection items designed together with Pharrell Williams.
There is for example the Lanc 3D high straight, which rethinks 3D pattern cutting - creating an anatomically shaped garment by challenging the position of traditional side seams. This results in the iconic side seam being shifted from the side to the front. With the addition of a slanted dart on the side we give the right shape to the hips and waist. The turn-up exposes the seams alterations. For women, the fit is high and the legs straight - for a modern look.
Then there is our Motac program which was inspired by motocross. Features of the Motac Mid Skinny for women include ergonomic pattern cutting and integrated functional rib panels for optimal movement and comfort as well as ribbing panels that hug a woman’s figure for a slimming silhouette. There will be a curated fabric mix of knit and woven/denim fabrics.
And then there is the G-Star Elwood X25 (available globally in February), the iconic and original 3D G-Star RAW Elwood, now coming in 25 different prints. With check, camouflages and traditional patterns from all over the world, these 25 prints – carefully selected by Pharrell himself – break the traditional codes of fashion and allow you to decide what you wear, without context and without rules.
How close are you guys working together with Pharrell?
I’ve been personally working with Pharrell in a close manner ever since we started with the RAW for the Oceans collection. We’ve been designing, brainstorming together and having dinner with the team. So I’ve been around him in both professional and casual settings and can honestly say that he is extremely passionate, very humble, super creative and has a strong opinion about the product and the processes. He has this amazingly positive energy about him and where we were already always pushing the boundaries of denim he’s pushing us even further. He loves to be truly involved, so more behind the scenes than in front.
You were born in Seoul and raised in Denmark. Do Asian and Scandinavian design aesthetics rather clash or match? How do both directions influence your work?
Seoul is the new Tokyo in Asia, they have a minimalistic approach and therefore it fits the Scandinavian aesthetics quite well. I was raised being surrounded by designs of Anne Jacobsen and Bang & Olufsen but I love the clash and contradictions between my minimalistic background, feminine approach and the heavy duty workwear garments from our archive. Workwear might not seem feminine right away, but in fact I love girls in a big chunky boilersuit and find it super sexy, in my opinion, even sexier than the obvious feminine pieces such as a skirt.
Part of this interview appeared as part of SPORTSWEAR INTERNATIONAL's brand new GIRL ISSUE. Take a look at the digital magazine here.