SSENSE recently sat down with with Kris Van Assche, which saw the Belgian designer discuss his formative years, his rebellious attitude towards design and the ever expanding world of KRISVANASSCHE, amongst other topics. Check out an extract from the interview below and check out the whole article here. Also included in the gallery above are the designer’s Essentials and a black leather backpack designed exclusively for SSENSE.

 

YOU GREW UP IN THE SMALL VILLAGE OF LONDERZEEL, DID YOU HAVE MUCH INTEREST IN FASHION AS A YOUTH?

I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN LONDERZEEL, A CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENT WITH LITTLE SPACE FOR CREATIVITY AND PERSONALITY. IT WAS A VERY SMALL VILLAGE WHERE NOTHING REALLY EXCITING EVER HAPPENED. IT OBVIOUSLY INFLUENCED MY PERSONALITY AS A HUMAN BEING. I SPENT MOST OF MY TIME ALONE IN MY ROOM “BEING CREATIVE”. IT WASN’T NECESSARILY ABOUT FASHION BACK THEN, THOUGH IT WAS ALREADY VERY PRESENT IN MY MIND, BUT I COULD ALSO JUST BE DRAWING OR MAKING OTHER THINGS.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST “AWARENESS” OF FASHION? HOW DID IT CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK?

AT THE AGE OF ABOUT 10-12 I SERIOUSLY STARTED QUESTIONING WHY ANYONE SHOULD DECIDE FOR ME WHAT TO WEAR. A LITTLE LATER, MY GRANDMOTHER STARTED MAKING MY CLOTHES WHICH I HAD ALWAYS SEEN HER DOING FOR HERSELF. SHE MADE ME THOSE WIDE PLEATED PANTS THAT I LOVED, WHILE EVERYONE ELSE WAS WEARING JEANS.

HAS YOUR UPBRINGING TRANSLATED AT ALL INTO YOUR WORK?

PROBABLY. MY PARENTS ARE VERY MUCH ‘DOWN TO EARTH’… THEY VALUE HARD WORK AND BELIEVE IN THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING INDEPENDENT.

YOU’VE CITED THAT YOUR DESIRE TO BECOME A DESIGNER STEMS FROM WANTING TO HAVE MORE CONTROL OVER WHAT YOU WEAR, AND YOUR REACTION TO PRESSURE TO DRESS A CERTAIN WAY. WHAT STYLES OR PRODUCTS WERE POPULAR AT THE TIME THAT YOU DIDN’T WANT TO WEAR?

BACK THEN, I REFUSED TO WEAR JEANS. EVERYBODY WORE JEANS BACK THEN, JEANS WERE ‘COOL’. JEANS WERE THE CODE OF A GROUP I FELT I DIDN’T BELONG TO.

WAS THERE SOMETHING YOU WERE REBELLING AGAINST?

THERE WAS LITTLE SPACE FOR CREATIVITY AND DIFFERENCE BACK THEN IN LONDERZEEL. I DID NOT FIT IN AND IN A WAY, I DIDN’T REALLY WANT TO.

HOW DO THESE THOUGHTS FIT INTO YOUR LIFE NOW? DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR DESIGNS EMANATE THE SAME TYPE OF PRESSURE ONTO OTHERS, IN TERMS OF DRESSING THE “KRIS VAN ASSCHE WAY”?

MY CLOTHES ENFORCE ONE’S PERSONALITY, THEY DO NOT WISH TO PRESSURE ANYTHING ON ANYONE.

IS THERE ALWAYS A PERSONAL ELEMENT TO YOUR DESIGNS? DO YOU FEEL THAT SAME KIND OF PRESSURE IN TERMS OF DESIGNING A CERTAIN WAY?

YES, I WOULD SAY MY WORK IS VERY PERSONAL. WHEN I LAUNCHED MY LABEL, I WENT ABOUT DESIGNING WHAT I PERSONALLY WANTED TO WEAR. NOW IT IS NO LONGER ABOUT WHAT I WANT TO WEAR, I NOW ENJOY A MORE CONCEPTUAL APPROACH OF CREATING A STORY THAT FITS MY UNIVERSE, NURTURED BY EXPERIENCES OR THINGS I LEARNED.

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START YOUR OWN LABEL?

BEING AN ASSISTANT FOR OVER 6 YEARS BECAME QUITE FRUSTRATING. I WANTED TO EXPRESS MY OWN PERSONAL VISION ON FASHION AND THEREFORE I NEEDED TO QUIT MY JOB AT DIOR AND START MY OWN LABEL.

SETTING UP MY OWN LABEL, KRISVANASSCHE, REMAINS THE MOST DECISIVE MOMENT OF MY LIFE.