When I asked why she chose menswear design (instead of the more popular, I thought, womenswear), she told me she has always been interested in the challenge of broadening the range of options for the suit-&-shirt palette – “I would say the style of my collection is androgynous – my goal has always been to cross the borders!”.
Janine arrived in China in 2010 to work as a fashion designer, but that didn’t last long. Right away she felt the urge to work at her own label and, in a simple and naive way only a beginner can go through, she started designing and producing her pieces.
“Without any business background, I was clearly investing more money than what I was making” she told me, even though she reckons it would have been impossible to launch her own label in any other place but China: being a German designer definitely was an asset in building her brand from a marketing point of view, plus competitive productions costs also helped her in the first stages.
After the initial struggle, Janine now has a Chinese partner for investment, a friend of hers who lived in Germany for a long time: “This way I don’t have to worry about keeping it low budget, and I can experiment a lot more – this is very important as a designer!” she told me, and I could definitely read relief in her eyes!
Her current collection, Presence, is all about living the very moment (in Chinese 此刻 – this moment/now/at present) and meditating on the emotions she experienced in the past. For the first time, Janine used red boldly, and, with the help of digital printing techniques, she layered together different pictures, and then printed them out on poliestere, in this way referring to the gaining of different experiences over time.
It normally takes her around two or three months to go through the creative process leading to a new collection: “It could take less time – she told me – but I like to go back and forward, to rethink everything, and I take care of everything by myself”.
Very often, the starting point is a new fabric – normally she would go to Guangzhou chasing new materials & textures, bring samples back home in Beijing and start thinking & designing, drawing inspirations from them.
When I heard that Jaden Smith, actor, rapper, dancer and son of Will Smith, wore Path at the international presstour to promote his new movie After Earth, I was pretty excited. “I was excited too! – Janine candidly confessed – Even more so when I kept spotting him wearing Path even in his free time!”. She told me that this was a big step for her brand, great promotion, and that the specific top he was wearing actually saw a clear sales leap ahead. Ah, celebrities!
Right now Janine is very looking forward to going to Vicenza for a fashion trade fair in May: “They invited fashion designers from all over the world – I expect to meet a lot of cool people and of course, stores’ owners, so that I can get more selling spots for my collections”. This is her goal and dream right now: tighten up the network of resellers (currently Path is present in China and in Dubai) so that she can reach out to a wider audience, and grow her brand.
And while being attracted by Northern Europe’s capital cities and NY, Janine knows for sure she will never ever leave her Chinese experience behind: “Even if I go back to the Old World, there is no way I can ignore that Path’s adventure started in Beijing: China will always be a big part of it! Also, I’m pretty sure I would look for Chinese people to hang out with them! I fear I will have problems in fitting back in the environment I left four years ago. I’m a completely different person now”. Ah, I’ve heard foreigners worrying about this so many times and I can so relate. It’s true that it takes time to adjust to life in China, but once you lived here for a while, it steals your heart, and the thought of leaving it is very painful. Come on, Janine, who is forcing you to leave our beloved Beijing?
La scorsa settimana ho incontrato Janine, creative director e owner di Path, indaffaratissima con i preparativi per il fashion trade fair a Vicenza all’inizio di maggio. Partita da Berlino e arrivata a Pechino per uno stage nel 2010, dopo soli sei mesi si e’ messa a lavorare a tempo pieno al suo brand di abbigliamento da uomo, che oggi le sta dando grandi soddisfazioni. Mi ha anche confessato che c’e’ ancora tanto da fare per raggiungere un pubblico più vasto in diverse parti del mondo e che e’ molto spaventata all’idea di tornare a vivere in Europa. Coraggio Janine, chi ha detto che tu debba lasciare Pechino?
For the chat with Janine at S.T.A.R.S. I was delighted to wear:
Black dress: Max Mara
Nail color: OPI Suzi skis in the Pyrenees
The pictures at S.T.A.R.S. were taken with my white Sony NEX-5T (and special thanks to Michel for his help!)
For all the other pictures, special thanks to Janine and Path.[map id=”75″]