Fabian Schmidt is tired of boring clothes. His label, Fabian Schmidt Clothing, which launched in 2016, aims to bring some excitement to your wardrobe, shaking up your looks by eschewing the norms and mores of contemporary fashion. Even with the brand’s disregard for labels, pieces from Fabian Schmidt Clothing are remarkably chic, and each piece from the latest collection, Yasumasa, can be styled and restyled with others in the collection. Schön! spoke with the mind behind the label to hear more about the design process and what’s coming next.
What’s your history as a designer?
Well, my history as a designer was a path with some detours. When I was younger, I always had a thing for fashion and makeup. In my teenage years, I liked the goth scene. I always dressed up in black and put some black eyeshadow on my eyelids, etc. I did some modelling stuff and did my A-level. After my graduation, I didn’t really know what to I wanted to do — actually, I wanted to do something creative. I did an internship as a hairdresser and was a failure. During this internship, my grandmother died, and I had a little mental breakdown. After that, I tried to fit into society. In school I liked politics a lot, so I studied law in Saarbrücken. But this was also a small detour… I didn’t like it, so I quit the studies and tried to focus on myself and what I really want. It was fashion design (I always liked sewing, my grandmother was a seamstress and my grandfather tailored for men). I did an internship at the theatre in Saarbrücken to learn the craftsmanship of sewing. After that, I was a costume assistant for Madama Butterfly. Then, I applied to the University of Applied Sciences in Trier for fashion design. I did an internship at Esther Perbandt in Berlin, moved back to Saarbrücken and graduated in Trier. In 2016, I decided to establish my label.
You mentioned you did several internships, including one with Esther Perbandt. What did you learn from those experiences?
Oh, the experience was amazing. I had my internship when we worked on her collection for the 10th birthday of the label. We worked on the collection and it was shown at a theatre, the Volksbühne in Berlin. It’s one of the best theatres I’ve ever seen. Esther is a very smart person. Well, I learned much during this time — I don’t like big cities, and you have to work hard if you want to reach something.
Introduce us to this collection. What inspired this series of works?
The collection is inspired by a Japanese fairytale about inner strength called Yasumasa. You can combine every piece of the collection. That was important — it should be wearable and comfortable.
What emotions were you looking to capture with this collection?
That’s quite hard to tell, because in every collection, there are so many emotions captured. At first I wanted to show the inner strength, but becoming strong is a process. I think everyone knows self doubt — am I good enough, am I worth it, etc. I think I want to show, yes, you’re worth it; yes, you are good enough. I think I showed this process in the way the clothes are fabricated. On one hand, you have the clean line; on the other hand, you have edgy cuts, open seams, etc.
You’ve said your work is for people who wish to “break free from society’s constraints”. What are those constraints, and how does Fabian Schmidt work to break them?
First, I do fashion for humans, not for gender. I don’t care about gender. It’s totally okay for me when I see a guy wearing a skirt and make up. That’s one of the aspects of which we need to break free. Don’t judge a book by its cover. But many people still have the thought that they have to fit in the society, even with their clothing. They always dress up like everybody else. Commercial fashion is for me like a gray matter — everyone looks the same. Look at bankers, lawyers, etc. If you don’t dress up like everybody else, they don’t take you seriously; they talk about you — oh, look at him, etc. Life is too short to wear boring clothes. Dress up. Express yourself. Don’t care what other people say.
You’ve mentioned that you have worked with dance companies and theatres in the past. Can you talk more about that experience and why you did it?
If you look at my career, I’ve always been inspired by the theatre, even the ballet. When I saw Casa Azul by Maggie Donlon in Saarbrücken, I was captured. I wanted to work with dance companies; you can express so many emotions with dance, music and costumes. I didn’t want to give it up. That’s why I worked with them. I also wanted to express feelings with the dancers. That’s another part of the work for me — you work with other artists; you’re always in a creative exchange with them; you work together on a project and to capture the audience.
What’s been inspiring you recently?
At the moment it’s hard to find something that inspires you. You cannot go to museums or exhibitions. That’s quite sad, because that gave so much to me, or travelling to Paris… so I started gardening. I have to say, gardening is very inspiring. The colours of the flowers, the smell and being in nature, appreciating small things, seeing plants growing or fading away.
What’s next for Fabian Schmidt?
Next step: we’re gonna have a project with a musician for a theatre — haha, here is the theatre again! — and selling our current collection. I am looking for inspiration for the next season, and I think I want to break all this seasonal stuff. I think clothes shouldn’t be seasonal. Everything comes again; you cannot reinvent the wheel. Everything comes and goes, but I want to do something for people that lasts forever, be it garments or the emotions they felt when wearing my designs. Another important aspect I will still be working on is that fashion should not be a disposable product. We have to do fair trade production and have to recycle and reuse things. We’ve just got one planet. There’s no planet B or C. We have to change things. For me, it was important that my employees have a good payment. We also try to have a short chain of production. We produce our garments in Berlin, the buttons are produced in Germany; the lining, the fabrics come from Italy and Spain, from small companies who use recycled polyester and recycled cotton. The leather goods are vegetable tanned, and the leather comes from Germany. The leather is rescued from slaughterhouses; otherwise they would throw the skin in the trash. That would be a huge waste and would earn the disapproval of every animal.