You might remember that this year’s Jakarta Fashion Week featured a series of German labels that also made appearance in this year’s Berlin Fashion Week. And as lucky as I was, I got to interview one of them—Starstyling.
I met husband and wife Kei Seifried and Katja Schlegel—who have been married for 18 years—in one sunny afternoon in a Japanese restaurant, on the day of their show. Kei in his bright pink t-shirt and shorts, and Kartja in her multicolored tunic seemed so laid back, far from pretentious, but most importantly, raw and real. And though not quite recovered from their jetlag yet, Katja and Kei still happily chat with us.
You are going to show your latest collection tonight, which is Stripes for Your Right to Party. I have taken a peek at some of the pieces, but can you tell more about it?
Katja: The inspiration for this collection was stripes and lines. I want to break it because lines are normally strict and mathematical. I painted the stripes by hand, so they are not stripes anymore. They are more organic stripes. So it’s kind of interesting to break this kind of normal… watching the things. And even when you have circles in lines, I break them and make patterns out of it.
Kei: They are, like, lines from the fabric and on top of it there are some painted lines. So sometimes there are three layers of different kinds of stripes, and it makes the special appearance.
The colors on this collection are not as strong as our previous collections. This time we feature pastel candy shop, ice cream colors.
And although we’re only going to show the pieces on female models, the collection is actually not only for ladies. A lot of stuff is unisex. There are also sporty stuff that works on boys, like t-shirts, sweaters, and unisex trousers.
What are the characteristics of Starstyling wearers?
Kei: It’s probably more for people with strong characters and people in special positions, like artists or musicians. In Korea there are several pop stars like the Wondergirls, 2NE1, who shoots their video with Starstyling pieces, because the appearance is very strong.
There are a lot of people who like our stuff, but they said they don’t have the courage to wear this. So I guess Starstyling is for people with strong characters, courage, and vision.
Mischa Barton and Kylie Minogue, some of the many celebrities who are caught sporting Starstyling
Starstyling is known to “mock fashion’s strict aesthetics”, so I guess that means you like to have more fun and don’t follow trends?
Kei: Nope. [In fact,] There are many big houses that are following us. We have a case where one big label copied one of our best products. Our lawyer wrote them a letter, and the company stopped immediately, because it was quite clear that they copied us.
So it’s an exact copy?
Kat: Yeah, but in a bad way, not better [laughs]
Kei: Yeah, in a bad way and looks cheap [laughs]. It’s not good for us.
But you know, imitation is the best form of flattery.
Kei: Yeah, it’s a compliment, but they should make the copy good and not make it look cheaper, because this is bad for us.
We once found 100% exact copies in shops near us, from big companies. So, all in all, we are more trendsetting and not so much on “What can we do to make our products to be commercial enough, so people would buy it?” It’s the other way around.
We like to have fun, but not always funny!
Speaking of which, you’re known to do quirky stuff like the hiring albino models and model with prosthetic legs for your shows.
Kei: Actually, in Berlin, many people like to look tough and eccentric. But our reason for hiring the fake leg model…. Well, he’s just a beautiful guy. It’s not about his leg, but it’s about his attitude and how he looked. We didn’t care about the leg. But the press saw it as “Oh, they take a model with one leg missing, and didn’t take a look at the person,”
But we did look at the person. Actually, he came to us in a long trouser, so we didn’t know he was missing a leg. And we saw him, we think he’s a nice guy and that’s it.
Was anyone offended?
Kei: Oh, there’s this one magazine that said…
Kat: They said we used this guy…
Kei: Yeah, they said something stupid about how we exploit the guy to get more attention, which was 100 percent not true.
Kat: Yeah, we’re democratic in a way. The world is colorful, and we have every kind of race and age and color, so why don’t put that in the show? And it’s interesting to see our clothes on different kinds of people, with different skin colors, different body shapes.
Kei: She was asked yesterday, why does she use so many colors, for example on the hand paintings. And her answer was, “There are so many variety in life that you can choose, so why just choose black and white? Why be boring, if there are so many things to see and taste?