Kevin Meunier did the following interview with us for SUPERIOR MAGAZINE. In our series “Successful Sustainable Fashion” we tell success stories of labels which follow high green & ethical standards, some of them from the GREENshowroom and the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin. BIRTHDAY SUITS is a german “green” brand from Leipzig since 2008. Working on body extensions such as hairy scarfs, ample dresses and extra long sleeves, Louise Walleneit, the designer, built up a range of original and innovative clothes in their shapes and general aspects. The “birthday suits” woman feels free and comfortable in her outfits. Here is the interview Louise and SUPERIOR MAGAZINE have made.
How did you get into design? Was there a defining point in your career, and if so, how did it shape you as a designer?
My interest in Modern Dance and Sculpture brought me to fashion as I thought a dress could be a link to bring these two disciplines together. During my fashion studies and as a self-employed designer I had to learn that there is no space and no time in the fashion business for experiments like that. But as a person who experienced the GDR and the period when the wall came down, I am very interested to overcome borders. And this overcoming is always an energy in my artistic work and research process.
What is the story behind your brand?
Since 2008 the ideas and products of “birthday suits” develop in a trans-disciplinary space of research between fashion, art and different theoretical sciences, like communication, culture and media studies. Based on written periodic changing concepts, 3-dimensional statements are made, I call them “bodyextensions”. A body extension could be wearable fashion at one time and a sculpture, installation or performance at the same moment. The progress of translation from the current state of a shape into another state is the design method to overcome borders between fashion, art and science. I follow the random design method which is also used in Architecture for example.
How would you define the style of your brand?
The style of my brand is made by the dialogue between a body and a surface of a material, talking about a specific theme. A form of a cut is always proven in this process and brings along its origin by itself.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
I am always curious about the point “zero”. The curiosity of what happens if putting separated things together into a new context, as an indication of starting an experimental progress. To me, the most inspiring happening is the man! It is about the human body, communicating, moving through space and time, expanding.
Is there any message you want to give through your fashion?
There is maybe something in my designs that brings up conflicts with the regulatory-system of your thinking and looking at things, in a humorous way. I hope to open up your mind to overcome borders of routine thinking.
What is sustainable fashion for you?
Sustainable fashion should, besides fair produced ware, mainly supply and design on behalf of sustainability. Sustainable design should follow its own order, edit timeless themes and bring the potential of a favourite piece in which you feel like at home because it can establish a relationship with your personality. A dress of “birthday suits” always contains an information for the carrier that has something to do with the concept of the collection. My design works separated from trends and seasons.
Is ethical fashion already established or is it still an “exotic” trend?
If sustainable fashion would not resist the trendy market it would have failed its mission. In my opinion, it is much more than an exotic trend, it is a necessary change that has to be made, but unfortunately still far from self-evident.