After doing a burqa as project at university, an internship at Vivienne Westwood and her beginnings in Prenzlauer Berg, Janna Lenartz founded her store and studio in Berlin-Charlottenburg. There she moved her focus away from jersey dresses for expecting mothers and concentrated more on doing her own thing – high-quality fashion for everyday. She still succeeded in giving her pieces that certain elegance reflected in the prancing gazelles featured in the brand’s logo.
What is the best part about being a designer?
My work as a designer is diverse and varied. I can develop new collections and bring my ideas to life. I also really enjoy working in my store; the direct contact with customers is important to me.
What has inspired you to become a designer?
As a teenager, I often went into stores with a clear picture of an outfit in my mind, spending lots of time in them to just leave empty-handed, very disappointed about not finding anything. This is why I started designing clothes that were perfect for me, being exactly as I imagined. At the beginning, I disassembled clothes, looked at the materials, seams and patterns like a detective, I would then sewed them back together again. One of the results of this exercise was a pink pair of riding breeches that were a real sensation in my village back then. Curiosity has often helped me understanding the background. My family has always supported me.
What would you tell young designers that are just starting out?
Stay down-to-earth. There are so many designers who have completely lost the connection between themselves and reality, who jump through hoops and follow every trend. It is important to always ask yourself what it is that you really want and what you feel comfortable with. Obviously, it is normal to change your strategy, particularly at the beginning. I also did that. You should never forget that fashion is not only a dream world but also an extremely hard business into which you as a designer are required to put in lots of time, energy and money.
What do you like about nelou?
At nelou, I become visible as a designer. Customers that are not able to make it to my store can find me here, and customers who would have never found me directly. These are customers who pay attention to quality and sustainable production and know that the price will reflect that. Designers need to be able to live from it. Customers who understand that clothes are complex pieces. Customers who find it important to know where their clothing is coming from and who has designed it.
Where is your studio/showroom?
It is located in on Pestalozzistraße 103 in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Not particularly a tourist region. I have many regular customers that are loyal to their neighbourhood. Also, many Swiss people and Austrians come to the store that I have had since 2014.
Your favourite place in your city? What do you love about it?
Berlin is multifaceted and contrasting. Here, you can find the centres with many tourists as well as lots going on just like the small neighbourhoods with all their charm. If you travel a bit out of town, there’s plenty of greenery.
Where do you find inspiration for colours, fabrics, cuts and patterns?
For me, inspiration is depending on the moment. When I am out and about, I often see fabrics and immediately have new ideas in my head. I also find customers with their very own ideas inspiring. They remind me of my younger self.
What materials and techniques do you use?
I work with natural materials a lot and make a new combination for every piece of clothing. For example, a piece can consist of wool, silk and leather. I find it important that the clothes are wearable and functional. Customers should have the possibility to individually adjust the clothing to suit them. I mainly get my fabrics from Italy and Greece.
Which material has been the most challenging so far in terms of processing?
Silk is very difficult to deal with, particularly in combination with leather. However, for me this has its own kind of charm, working with opposites. Men’s fashion is more difficult to design. It is plainer, I can’t go crazy with my designs. Women are much more experimental.
Who is the typical Janna Lenartz customer?
The self-confident woman who knows what she wants and has a feeling for something special, extravagant and handmade. In my store, she gets a complete daytime outfit for daily life, business or going out. I also offer make to measure.
Three items in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without…?
Any winter must-haves?
A beautiful coat that makes you feel comfortable and keeps you warm.
What can we look forward to?
Bags and shoes. I want to provide an entire outfit for my customers. I also want to extend the men’s collection.
Concluding words for our readers:
The most important aspect is to always feel comfortable – in your life and clothes. The way you dress is always an expression of your own personality. There is no use in dressing all colourful when you don’t feel it inside.
Many thanks to Janna Lenartz!
Find all pieces by Janna Lenartz here.
Text: Vivien Bergelt, Translations: Katja Reise