Wool Week Belgium – Stephan SchneiderFor the first Antwerp Wool Week, Stephan Schneider drew his inspiration from Sigmund Freud’s Persian rug covering his famous couch. He used a Persian carpet pattern and knitted it into a long, wool jacquard scarf. This scarf illustrates the sense of ordinary, forgotten luxury mixing nostalgia with familiarity, which is a key ingredient in Stephan’s collections. Photo credit Pieter Jan Boterhoek.
The Campaign for Wool has been talking to Stephan Schneider who is one of the designers exhibiting at the WM Gallery in Antwerp as part of Wool Week in Belgium.
Please tell us a little about yourself and how your designs utilize wool?
I want garments to look as simple and effortless as possible but at the same time highly sophisticated. Therefore I need to work with strong fabrics full of soul so that the emotion of the garment does not get lost in the industrial process of manufacturing. I don’t think of fashion as a luxurious status symbol but as a collection of garments with an emotion, a story, an atmosphere.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I draw all my inspiration from the reality around me. I have a fascination for the visual mass. Mass- consumption, mass-communication, mass-entertainment… As a fashion designer I should aim for individuality and uniqueness but at the same time fashion becomes a global industrial product with the same marketing campaigns all around the world.
This juxtaposition is the starting point of each of my collections and helps me to focus my energy on creating charming garments and not a brand.
What makes you choose wool over other fibres?
Wool is a honest and authentic fabric and fits my design language perfectly.
How do you source wool?
When I visit the fabric fairs and have a look at thousands and thousands of swatches there is hardly a single one that inspires me. Therefore I have to design the patterns, structures and prints of the fabric story by myself.
It is a technical process to design those patterns for the weaving machines but they come alive in the garments and give them my personal signature.
With some of my wool suppliers I work together since the very first collection. I’m not very open for changes in my work and appreciate loyalty towards my manufacturers and suppliers – some of them I even worked together with for my graduation collection at the Antwerp Academy. As my design approach is season by season inspired by one specific atmosphere and theme, my collections are not connected to specific trends and cannot be categorized into a design movement. This constancy gives a timeless value to my garments.
Are there any plans to introduce more wool in to your collection?
Luckily, I do not plan my collections but I can get driven by the inspiration of that specific season.
What is your opinion about The Campaign for Wool and your participation in Wool Week?
I prefer a campaign for wool rather than for war.
What does 2015 hold for you?
I am not into new projects. My definition of quality is all about continuing passionately.
For the first Antwerp Wool Week, Stephan Schneider drew his inspiration from Sigmund Freud’s Persian rug covering his famous couch. He used a Persian carpet pattern and knitted it into a long, wool jacquard scarf. This scarf illustrates the sense of ordinary, forgotten luxury mixing nostalgia with familiarity, which is a key ingredient in Stephan’s collections.
Curator of the Wool Week expo, freelance journalist Veerle Windels:
Stephan Schneider was one of the first German designers to graduate from the Antwerp academy, in 1994. Afterwards, he launched his own collection, presenting both men’s and women’s wear in Paris, and in 1996, he opened a flagshipstore in Antwerp. Stephan makes no nonsense yet personal fashion, bringing tailoring to another level. He loves producing his work in Belgium.