What has your journey towards fashion been like so far?
My grandparents had a bespoke tailoring atelier in Bavaria that somehow interested me when I was younger, not always tailoring, but more the idea of creating wearable artefacts. One-of-a-kind pieces were present at flea markets where I spent every weekend, trying to find interesting garments or objects. My first attempts to make fashion were with deadstock or scraps I found there to create pieces of clothing learning to sew and make patterns through YouTube videos. Luckily, this changed when I studied fashion and communication design, extending my multidisciplinary approach to fashion.
What was the inspiration behind your collection and work in general?
My collection “Resurrection” [Ultra Ripam Alpina] is about confronting my Bavarian roots and my personal tailoring family heritage in a contemporary context with the approach of giving back to craftsmanship in today’s fast-paced society.
As I mostly design based on emotion and the effort to create a visual universe, the overall aesthetic can be compared with probably a metal or hardcore concert in the Bavarian alps and a melancholic and nostalgic indulgence about the past and the desire for innovation and progress in the present and the future.
Your work has a strong sense of heritage and craftsmanship. Why do you think these are important values for a designer today?
I feel like with all the benefits that industrialization and globalization brought us, we sometimes tend to lose track of the consequences of our consumerist behaviours. Paying tribute to craftsmanship in a contemporary way, such as an artisanal crafting technique that has been developed over many generations, simply makes sense to me. It is important to remember where things come from and also respect the human individuals behind them.
What drew you into researching folk references and adjusting them to a modern context?
Bavaria is very rich in cultural heritage, with often a rough attitude that I feel is fitting to my aesthetic. I like to use references like this in a more product-based way, as it gives my creations a deeper and personal meaning.
“When it comes to larger numbers, I still would like to continue using seasonal leftovers or deadstock. There is so much deadstock around and trying to create a well-made product that is meant to last for years.” – Valentin Lessner
Is it hard to build a brand driven by sustainability? If yes, in what way?
Sustainability is something hard to define. I feel like it‘s also ironic sometimes. If we have to be really true to ourselves, the only correct answer to being fully sustainable is to stop producing anything as we have more than what we might potentially need. But as we‘re all consumers, I would say it‘s more important to focus on a responsible approach to producing garments or products in general, that by nature includes thinking about ways of not burdening the earth.
“My overall approach will lead to smaller production numbers, but it might be a potential step towards being more responsible and producing on demand.” – Valentin Lessner
Is it doable to scale upcycling techniques for production? What kind of strategy are you following, or will you follow when it comes to producing larger numbers?
I can only speak from my own experience so far which has been including only one-of-a-kind pieces. When it comes to larger numbers, I still would like to continue using seasonal leftovers or deadstock. There is so much deadstock around and trying to create a well-made product that is meant to last for years. A bit like the German concept of Bauhaus that integrates the design with the technology of the production to lead to a perfect result in the end.
My overall approach will lead to smaller production numbers, but it might be a potential step towards being more responsible and producing on demand.