Clara Kaesdorf is a 26-year-old fashion designer with a focus on sustainable and extravagant design. The collections are defined by a non-stop flow of colours and prints with great attention to detail and use of high-quality fabrics. She founded her label in 2013 with the ambition to create clothes that are suitable for any occasion in life, during day and night. Every piece is designed by Clara and handcrafted in her design studio in Berlin.
What is the best part about being a fashion designer?
Fashion design is an all-embracing process. I love translating my designs into real pieces – deciding on colours and patterns and which materials to use best. It is always important to me to have full control of my creativity and choice of people I am working with. In my work, I combine elaborate concepts with technical skills and innovative design strategies. For example, I have invented a special closure mechanism, so that customers can adjust belts and pocket straps individually in length. And I enjoy the direct contact with customers, giving them advice when it comes to fashion issues. If a piece of clothing does not fit them, I tell them and we find another.
What has inspired you to become a designer?
My family. My grandparents are painters, and my father is a violin maker. Their creativity inspires me. From them I got a passion for designs, colours and handcraft. With my father I designed the Wooden Bag that is an innovative handbag which is made up of soft leather with a coating made from Satin Walnut Wood.
What piece of advice would you give to young designers?
At university you only learn model size 34 – there is little to no education on real sizes. In fact, bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. To be a designer means working with proper measurements of actual customers. This is only possible if you are in direct contact with your customers. Young designers should also network and realise projects in co-operations in order to have a better presence in the fashion world. There are different concepts to join for co-operations, for example sharing a store, doing a pop-up store, displaying one’s pieces in stores of befriended designers. Another possibility is to have an online-presence on designer platforms like nelou.
What does nelou mean for you?
nelou is a platform for designers who would not be perceived in the fashion world otherwise. This is true especially for newcomers and designers who launch their brand at a very young age. nelou makes it possible to have an online-presence with other like-minded designers who emphasise local and sustainable production of high quality.
Where is your showroom?
Linienstraße 114 in Berlin-Mitte.
What do you love about your city?
I love Berlin and the unique area of the Auguststraße and Linienstraße in Berlin-Mitte. That is why I have my showroom here. Around there, there are many galleries, studios and shops to be found. Tourists love that. If you want, you can meet the whole world around there. And the world comes to know you. In the evening I like to stroll up and down these streets and get inspired by the window displays.
Where do you find inspiration for colours, fabrics, cuts, patterns?
I get my inspiration from everywhere – always. Thus, impressions from fashion, nature, research and engineering have influence in my designs.
Which materials and techniques do you use?
I prefer to leave things vague. In this way, imaginative patterns result that look like scribbling or a blackboard that has been hastily cleaned. Looking very closely at my designs, you may also find small monsters among floral elements. There are also prints with individually designed ice crystals and checkerboard pattern.
For fabrics, I choose natural fibres such as wool, silk, linen and cotton of high quality. I use digital printing and screen printing – depending on the pattern and the fibres. There are only a few brands that specialised on these methods. But for me this is very special and extraordinary. Accessories are primarily made from leather and wood.
Which material was the one that was the most challenging?
Silk! Silk is a natural fiber fabric and a bit finicky when it comes to being processed. Because of its delicate nature, care must be taken when cutting the material and sewing seams. The fabric needs to be fixed permanently to prevent it from slipping and sliding all over the cutting board.
Who is the typical Clara Kaesdorf customer?
Plenty of Berlin tourists come to my shop as well as gallerygoers. Customers who return regularly come from German-speaking countries as well as from Israel, Sweden and Norway. They are looking for special patterns and fabrics.
Three items in your wardrobe that you can’t be without…?
I love to wear skirts and dresses all throughout the year. In winter I prefer skirts and dresses in green or red tones. Wearing skirts with long boots gives you a marvellous look for the winter. I add some cool tights with the combination along with few accessories like a statement scarf to style the outfit. This winter, I have a colourful culotte in my wardrobe. Thanks to its universally flattering fit this combination of trousers and skirt is perfect for casual daily wear.
Any winter must haves?
During winter, my favourite fashion item is a cardigan with long sleeves made from alpaca fur that keeps you warm very well. You are always well dressed and look terrific. Beneath this cardigan you may also wear a heavy sweater. Another must have is an elegant coat. Unfortunately, in stores you usually find coats in drab colours, but I think it’s important to wear bright colours during the cold season to lift our moods! Thus, for my coats I choose intense colours. High collars and lining add warmth to them. All of my designs are made for daily wear although the pattern is always form-fitting. For example, you can easily wear them when riding a bicycle thanks to a two-way zipper.
What else can we look forward to?
I want to expand my label on an international level and to offer my designs in different stores in order to reach more people worldwide. Moreover, I imagine to add jewellery and backpacks to my collections. The most important thing to me is sustainable production. This is why I am always looking for partners with whom I can achieve this goal. In the nearer future, I would like to use lyocell which is a form of rayon that consists of cellulose fibre made from beech wood. Its manufacturing needs less water and energy than the manufacturing of cotton. The fabric is soft, absorbent, very strong and drapes well. Furthermore, it can be dyed in many colours and it is resistant to wrinkles. This is perfect for my designs. To find suitable suppliers is tricky though.
Do you have some concluding words for our readers?
You should become creative and interested in what you are wearing. My advice especially for men: There are so many more colours than black and white. Try some cool colours and patterns so that you stand out from the lot.
Thank you Clara Kaesdorf!
Find all pieces by Clara Kaesdorf here.
Text: Vivien Bergelt, Translations: Vivien Bergelt, Katja Reise