DBMS DESIGNER TALK: SMINFINITY
Sabine, you have been designing knitted collections since 1991, for ESCADA Sport and Iris von Arnim, among others. Three years ago, you founded your own label…
When you’re designing for other brands, the real art lies in adapting your design to match the label’s line and yet still managing to put your own stamp on the collection. For me as a designer, that was part of the appeal for many years. With SMINFINITY, I have fulfilled my dream of not having to adapt my designs to meet any prescribed direction, but rather to develop a collection which only meets my own criteria. As such, I felt it was really important to establish my own label without the help of others, so that I could realise and produce my own line independently.
In doing so, I let myself be inspired by items that I like to wear myself and the creations that my friends wear: knitted creations for modern women who do not succumb to external forces, but who dress confidently – casually and comfortably, and at the same time are beautifully styled. The feel-good aspect is very important to me. Besides a good fit, quality is crucial here – and Cashmere is the perfect material for feeling good in sort of second skin.
SMINFINITY – a combination of your initials and the word ‘infinity’. Sounds like an exciting story!
The infinity symbol has always been one of my favourite symbols. It was a deliberate choice to use it for my label because I intend to develop collections in which the themes of sustainability and durability are given priority, in line with the principles of ‘slow fashion’. Sustainable in terms of the quality, purchasing processes and the entire collection. I want to create styles that are favourite items for many years to come…
And by adding my initials the word ‘infinity’ becomes more personal, making it unique.
Your love of purism and the practicality of the Bauhaus style are the leitmotifs of your label. What else inspires you?
I discovered my love of the Bauhaus style while I was still at school specialising in Art for my Abitur (school leaving examinations), and it’s been continually evolving ever since. On trips to Weimar and Dessau, the masters’ houses, the Bauhaus school and the museum fascinated and inspired me. The longevity, durability – and by extension the sustainability – of Bauhaus design, which still exudes modernity even today, is unique. Bauhaus style and design is most definitely a source of inspiration. Even though it might not be possible in fashion to the same extent as it is in architecture, I still dream of creating something that is still contemporary in 20 years’ time.
I am also often inspired by colours from nature – whether that’s the sandy and stony hues on the Elbe river beach or the Blankenese sky, which transforms into strong or grey nuances depending on the weather. I am also interested in the movements in modern design and modern art.
During the design process, I tend to shut myself off from other collections. Of course, I still follow developments on the market and current trends, but I don’t want to be influenced by them. I prefer to retreat to my studio, listen to good music and enjoy the view of the countryside and stay true to my own line.
Cashmere is at the heart of your creations. Where does your love and passion for the natural fibre come from?
Cashmere – the queen of fibres – is simply unique. At an altitude of up to 4000 metres, Cashmere goats live in a special climate; their coat is perfect for those conditions. In addition to their long top coat of hair, they have a particularly fine, soft under-fleece which is very soft and keeps the body warm. Cashmere goats are not shaved. Instead, the Cashmere wool is carefully combed from the precious hair of the under-fleece by hand, and collected and sorted with exceptional skill. One Cashmere goat provides only 100 to 200 grams per year. Compared to all other wool fibres, Cashmere is exceptionally fine and light – the diameter of a fibre is only 15 – 19 micrometres, which is about one-sixth of the diameter of a human hair!
Cashmere provides a lot of warmth, regulates the temperature, doesn’t crease or wrinkle and hardly absorbs odours. Since the fibre is inherently dirt-repellent, you don’t need to wash it at high temperatures to remove stains and dirt. The perfect ingredients for a feel-good fibre!
It continues to amaze me just how versatile Cashmere is: you can create so many things from a fine thread – from super-fine, wafer-thin knitwear to coarse hand knitting. The fibre can be transformed into a ribbon yarn, cabled yarn or wick yarn. And thanks to the different structures which are produced by the various knitting techniques – whether double-face, cable or crochet – you can emphasise different characteristics of the natural fibre.
And regardless of how you use it, Cashmere always has a unique feel-good factor.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process? How is a ‘simple’ yarn transformed into a SMINFINITY creation?
After 25 years in the business, my process has evolved into a well-established sequence of various development stages. To create a sense of cohesion between the pieces in a collection, I look for a central theme. Then, I develop the colour concept. After, I decide on the structures and surfaces that I want to use; swatches and samples are knitted, many of which are produced in-house. In this stage, the focus is on playing around with the yarn – single-thread, multi-thread, different structures.
I always take into account the interplay between colours, yarns and surfaces, because some yarns work really well in some colours but not in others.
Once I have created the surface – the actual fabric – I develop the silhouette, the shape and the style.
For all the lookbook photo shoots and also for the BERLINER MODE SALON group exhibition, you work closely with the model Babette Rasch. Does she embody and symbolise the essence of SMINFINITY the best?
Babette is a clever, beautiful and disciplined woman; we work very well together. She is a model and actress, and an amazing talent – she conveys the moods of the collection convincingly. And, as in our Sminfinity philosophy, longevity plays a role here, too. It was a deliberate decision to establish a long-term cooperation with Babette so that our label would have a familiar face for the years to come.
The fact that we have become good friends over the years is the icing on the cake.
Photocredit: Holger Stoehrmann for SMINFINITY