‘Conceptual strangeness’ is her definition of aesthetics. Janine Grosche, the designer of the Beijing brand, PATH, talks about autonomy in one's individuality, confidence in one's actions and in one's skin and liberation in one's body and mind (and many others thing), which are the feeling that she expects from her customers by wearing her clothes. Janine discusses as well about designers and sculptors and how the idea of transformations of body and identity inspires her and the PATH collection.
What’s your background? What happened between you start designing clothes and PATH?
I studied fashion design in Berlin specializing in menswear and moved to China around 2 year after graduating and assisting a few independent labels in Berlin to gain experience. In Beijing I started working for a Chinese company as a fashion designer, which was interesting, but also super challenging to work in a complete different setting and a new environment, especially culturally speaking. I worked freelance for a while in Beijing as well, realizing eventually that all I wanted to do was to work completely independent and free, creating whatever I wanted, growing as a designer and setting up my own label. So that’s what I did – in Beijing, in 2014. It sort of happened all organically, as at first I didn’t plan to have my own brand, I only came to this point after I experienced different areas, which helped me to find my own path. It’s funny as I’m originally from a really small town in Germany and even moving to Berlin with 19 was a big deal for me back then, not to mention living in a mega city across the globe, being there for a decade and even starting to teach fashion design next to PATH, which I have been doing since soon 2 years. It’s all pretty exciting.
How do you feel to have moved from Berlin to Beijing? Do you miss Berlin?
Berlin is great city and I think I miss it mostly during summer as it can be really beautiful there to hang out in the parks with friends, pretty chilled. It’s full of creativity, opportunities and visual stimulation. But I have been living in Beijing now for 10 years, so every time I come back to Berlin, I start to feel a bit more like an alien, not being used to how things are done there anymore.
What make me not miss Berlin, is the fact that Beijing is much more fast-paced. In terms of speed you can get things done here quiet fast, which helps in idea development and production a lot. It’s really convenient to be here, you get things delivered immediately and with the online shopping platform called taobao you can find all kinds of random, weird things that you didn’t think existed that often give me new impulses. China can be pretty amazing, when it comes to that.
Which designers inspire you the most?
I love the works of visual artist Lucy Orta, who creates sculptural work that investigates the boundaries between the body and architecture. My favourite of her works is‘Refuge Wear and Body Architecture’, very conceptual and forward thinking. Of course I love the early works from Martin Margiela, Rei Kawakubo to name a few. Same for Hussein Chalayan, who integrates in his fashion designs the human body, technology, science and architecture, using innovative materials and meticulous pattern cutting. I love a progressive attitude towards fashion, a strong concept and narrative behind a brand.
I’m quite inspired by the futuristic works of artist Bart Hess, who physically morphs the body using latex to liquefy and sculpt the body, creating a physical alternative to the virtual morphosis. To name another: female artist Ana Mendieta, who experimented with the emerging genres of land art, body art, and performance art. I love especially her earth-works sculptures, where she used her naked body to explore and connect with the earth.
It becomes probably quite obvious now how the idea of transformations of body and identity inspires me, and which I’m also exploring with PATH and my body of work.
How do you expect people who wear your clothes to feel?
I expect them to feel powerfully different, empowered in their individuality, confident in their doings and their skin, liberated in their bodies and minds.
PATH is about having an urge within, a longing to be different from others and embracing diversity, always forward- thinking and non-conventional in approaching life. By confidently celebrating our differences and individuality we will at some point become one again, tapping into a feeling of inclusiveness, understanding that we are all connected to each other, which is a beautiful thing.
There is a tension formed around feeling liberated by the garments and also sheltered at the same time. In our SS19 collection we incorporated padded details into the garments to evoke a feeling of protection such as the integrated foam implants at certain areas that allow the garment to work as a hybrid together with the body to shape and transform. The idea builds around transcending the human form and body enhancements and modifications. Technological inventions, prosthetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, possibilities of combining technology and body, but also Chinese philosophies and traditional elements like acupressure points, meridians, energy flow etc. are what inspires me since a period of time.
What is your definition of "aesthetics"?
Conceptual strangeness. Aesthetics for me are not related to only the visual aspect but rather an entire feeling, a vibe. It’s not at all about the notion of beauty in an artistic sense. It is quite the opposite for me. I find inspiration in the contrast, the dark, the weird, the unusual which is mirrored in the aesthetics for PATH.
I’m much more interested in the unexpected and the innovative approaches to menswear. I prefer to challenge someone’s expectations and fixed preconceptions with my design, ignoring the boundaries of how things have to be for traditional menswear, questioning everything, challenging myself as well as others. My aesthetic vision for PATH reflects a rather futuristic and progressive version of what masculinity is or possibly could be, it shows the approach to trans-humanism that transitions into a hyper-future vibe. My visual language for PATH also constantly evolves and grows aesthetically, physically as well as spiritually, as do I.
Can you tell me more about a recent idea or project you have?
We’re in the middle of the new collection, but since the year just started we have released as a little extra our PATH #2019 starter pack, which gives a good mix of new PATH essentials. It’s a rather fun version, as it comes in a 150g, vacuum-sealed clear bag with a typical sticker that you usually find in the vegetable section of a supermarket, to start out fresh and healthy into 2019.
In our Pro Pack, within you can find:
a. To Live Ambitiously: PATH All-Over Printed Oversize Shopper
b. To Embrace Life: PATH Printed Sleeves / Arm Warmers
c. Fresh Breath To Start With: Wrigley’s Doublemint Chewing Gum
d. Self-Improvement Resolutions: Neon Post-it Note Markers
e. Reflective Practice: Neon Highlighter Pen
Produced and put together with unconditional love! Best before June, 27th.
Ps: Buy one and all your future wishes will come true!
Do you plan to design for women as well?
Haha, a definite no! I’m getting this question all the time. Women are very welcomed to wear the designs of course, and we have been shooting PATH on women. But I can’t imagine to specifically design for women, it simply doesn’t excite me at all and is so complex I wouldn’t know where to start. But in a funny way it often happens that find inspiration in womenswear that I then translate into menswear. This could be the tiniest detail, which get my interest and I immediately start to image how that could look on a man or how I could rework that idea into something new.
What I like most about menswear is to work within a limited framework with limited possibilities that menswear naturally offers and that then can be explored and pushed, which makes designing for men a worthy challenge.
interview LEA LARCHOUANY
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