Jan-Jan Van Essche: Under the Radar No More

Florence — Belgian designer Jan-Jan Van Essche is an unconventional choice as guest designer at Pitti Uomo, the biannual menswear trade show that started yesterday. Pitti’s organizers are great at discovering emerging talent, but rarely provide a platform for such left-wing designers.

Van Essche has remained firmly underground since launching his namesake quiet luxury brand 12 years ago. Although he has a following among a handful of menswear editors and is stocked in his 40 retail stores, including his Dover Street Market and his Ssense, his brand remains one of fashion’s mainstream. He never made it to the division, and today’s Pitti his Uomo show will be his first show.

At the heart of Van Esche’s work is what he calls “reverse multiculturalism.” His clothing draws inspiration from Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and traditional clothing often offers a sense of looseness and concealment not typically found in commercial fashion.

“What fascinates me is how many cultures find similar garments. For example, from Turkey to Asia to Africa, we see different ways of making clothes, but these same things The fact that it was invented in another place at the same time shows, for me, essential humanity,” says Van Esche.

If not simple, the results are minimal. Van Esche prefers silhouettes and textures to decorations and motifs. This approach no doubt helped him avoid accusations of “cultural appropriation.” He removes unnecessary seams and allows the drapes to shape the garment. or unprocessed, fresh from the loom.

While today’s fashion is fast, Van Esche’s approach is intentionally slow. rice field. His first collection was called “Loose.”

GQ Global Style Director Noah Johnson said: “I was blown away by his skill and his unique aesthetic vision. And of course, he does everything outside the traditional fashion system. A true independent.”

Van Essche, together with his partner Piëtro Celestina, runs Atelier Solarshop in Antwerp’s Seefhoek district, which is mainly populated by immigrants, and offers a selection of other slow fashion brands such as Cosmic Wonder and Mittan, as well as couples’ trips to the remote corners of the world.

42-year-old Van Esche was born in Antwerp. He graduated in his 2003 from the prestigious fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Before launching his brand, he worked with his father and his three brothers on sets for the Belgian television and film industry, as well as his fashion work in the mass market. “It’s important to know what you don’t want to do,” he says Van Essche.

Van Ecke started his fashion career in menswear, but “I don’t pretend to know how a woman feels in clothes,” he says. “Male and female structures are the same. Proportions may differ, surfaces may differ in terms of drawing or size. The way it drapes around the body makes it more feminine or more masculine.

The Tonight Show is a coming out party of sorts. “As a small, independent brand, it was never possible to do a show. The fluidity of his clothing almost requires seeing it in motion. “We’ve been trying to capture movement by making movies, but many of the teams that have worked on our movies are now working on the show.”

Whether this exposure will boost Van Essche’s business remains to be seen. He has no grand expansion plans for the label. “Being a small independent brand is pretty scary,” says Van Essche. “If we can continue to do what we do in a more sustainable way that gives us a little more stability and freedom, that would be great. But if the brand can reach more people without changing what we do, that would be great.”

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