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10 questions with designer Faustine Steinmetz

Paris-born Faustine Steinmetz moved to London to complete her Masters degree at Central Saint Martins before working with the likes of Jeremy Scott and setting up her own label in 2013. Known for her sustainable, ethical design approach and distinctive denim collections, Faustine is a unique talent and one to watch this London Fashion Week 2017. Here we talk to her about sustainability in fashion, collaborations, fashion week essentials and her new SS18 collection

Emily Scrivener
Emily Scrivener ,

After working with Jeremy Scott and Henrik Vibskov, you set up your own label. Did you always want to be a fashion designer?

When I was younger I was always cutting up all my clothes to make them into something else, which understandably annoyed my parents. It was probably when I was 14 or 15 that I really set my heart on becoming a designer. It didn’t go so well at first as I was refused by the first fashion school I applied to and my parents wanted me to become a PR instead as they thought I would never manage to become a designer if I couldn’t even get into fashion school. I hope at this stage they are happy I persisted …

What is your vision for the Faustine Steinmetz brand?
From the beginning it has always been to establish the brand as a pastiche of a typical denim label.

You have spoken openly about the struggle for sustainability in fashion. How much does sustainability govern your designs? What would you say is the best way to achieve it in fashion?
It’s never the starting point of my designs; what we’re always striving for is to just do things in the best possible way. Sometimes we end up not following through on an idea because we feel there would be too great an impact, but that’s always the way we approach it. I would feel too constrained otherwise if my starting point for a design was to make something for the purpose of being sustainable.
We’re not really trying to position ourselves as a sustainable brand – it just comes from our beliefs. A lot of the stuff we do probably actually goes unnoticed. A lot of our fabrics and the yarns we use in our hand weaving come from recycled materials, but for us that’s just the way things should be done as it requires very little extra effort on our part.
I guess the best way to achieve sustainability would probably be for everyone to just stop making new clothes altogether, but that would take a lot of the enjoyment out of fashion. I think if more people just made the effort to do things in the right way when they had the chance it would go a long way to improving things and would be a good start.

You have collaborated with brands including Cheap Monday. Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with in the future?
I really enjoyed working with Cheap Monday; the brand has such an amazing team and the experience was really enjoyable and quite invaluable. We had only just started out when we began talking to them, so it was helpful to get an insight into how they work. I don’t really have anyone in particular in mind that I would like to collaborate with – what interests me in collaborating with a brand is working around their identity to produce something that is my take on it.

Who or what inspires your work?
It can be quite random. A lot of it comes from the craft books that I collect, which are the kind grandmas would buy to learn a new technique. I have quite a big collection at this point! I think that what interests me each season is trying to work on something new, although it doesn’t always come off.

Other times it’s just how people are dressed in the street. I have a big collection of pictures of people I’ve stopped in the street who look quite confused! 

You were born in Paris and studied there and in London. How does the London fashion scene differ from the Paris scene?
I guess in Paris we have a number of large houses that are ingrained in the fashion scene. With London I feel it is certainly a lot more accepting of new ideas and new concepts from emerging designers. I feel that is slowly changing now in Paris as there has been a surge of new labels emerging that everyone seems to be embracing.

What are your London Fashion Week essentials?
Basically any highly concentrated caffeinated liquids! They are a must as we’re usually behind on everything in the run-up to the show and end up working quite late.

Where are your favourite places to shop in London?
This is basically a list of places I try to avoid to stop me spending all my money! Dover Street Market is always a great place to go as it has such a great selection of brands and it’s also quite a unique shopping experience. I also really like Machine-A as it has a great selection of London-based designers and the staff are really friendly. Browns is another that has a good selection of designers.

What are your favourite areas in London? Where would you tell visitors to go?
One of the first places I lived when I moved to London was Shoreditch, and it will always be special to me. In the short time I lived there it changed so much, which was so nice to see. Maybe not so interesting for visitors, but I think just visiting east London in general is quite an experience; I would suggest they take in some of the weekend markets such as Broadway Market.

Can you give us some insight to your SS18 collection?
Well, it’s going to be our first catwalk, so that’s quite different for us. Apart from that it will be pretty much what you would expect: denim pieces and, this time, a bit more of an expanding range to include other archetypes.



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