Last week global denim brand G-Star RAW opened its first store in South Africa that features a unique retail concept for female consumers only – G-Star Women. Situated in Hyde Park Corner in Johannesburg, the store becomes the 8th womens-only G-Star store worldwide. We caught up with head womenswear designer for G-Star, Rebekka Bach, to find out more
How did your journey with G-Star begin?
G-Star sort of happened to me. Ten years ago I was sitting in the Amsterdam airport waiting for my flight when Pierre Morriset - the mastermind designer that invented G-Star’s iconic Elwood design, the very first 3D denim in the industry - approached me. He asked me what brand of jeans I was wearing. I told him that they were my own design and that's how our conversation started. Now, 10 years later, my heart still starts pounding when I see the beginning of a new collection. At G-Star we continuously challenge ourselves to imagine the future of denim, whether it be in designing fits that celebrate the human shape or through innovations in our fabric (like with our RAW For The Oceans collection where we used recycled ocean plastic in a jeans range co-designed by Mr Pharrell Williams. Never a dull moment).
Who is the G-Star woman?
It is hard for me to name one woman... there are so many charismatic women I’m fascinated with. The G-Star woman is independent and strong minded. She loves jeans and she’s comfortable to wear jeans on any occasion. She likes to play with menswear related clothes and knows how to combine the exciting contradiction. For example, she'll wear super skinny jeans with a boyfriend sweater or boyfriend jeans with a heel.
How has your own style influenced your womenswear designs?
A perfectly fitted pair of jeans is of high importance to me. I feel confident and happy when the jeans I wear enhance my body contours and feel comfortable at the same time. They must be easy to combine with the rest of my wardrobe.
I’m also a modern working woman – I work long hours. Whether on the floor fitting models, hanging collection on rails etc. Finally I often go directly from work to dinners, either with work or friends. I think that paints a picture of a modern lifestyle. Women are active and demand their clothes to be transformable, functional and flattering.
What makes G-Star stand out in the world of denim?
There are so many things we do differently to other brands around the world, but these are the points that stand out for me. Our maniacal dedication to denim innovation, be it in fit, fabric or washing – we’re true denim specialists. Aside from that, I think there are no brands that approach denim design like product engineers rather than fashion designers. We live our philosophy, just the product, not only in our retail stores, campaigns or events but also in our design process. We combine inspiration from functional workwear and military pieces with technical innovations resulting in fresh functional and innovative jeans designs.
G-Star is known for its amazing brand ambassadors, any insight as to whom might be next?
Our brand ambassadors become a part of the G-Star family. Watch this space for upcoming news on our family!
Your favourite item from the latest collection?
The Lynn Zip Flared is my current favourite. The Lynn Skinny is my favourite everyday style but this season’s Zip Flare gives it a fresh cool twist.
The denim styles every woman needs to have in her closet?
For a long time, it was all about skinny. At the same time a comfortable fit is starting to become more important. Therefore, slowly but surely, we are moving away from super skinny to a more relaxed silhouette. However, the skinny fit will still remain one of the basics – just like a classic trench coat or a white tee. Those are essentials that you only have to combine with each other for a casual outfit. Nowadays the Elwood 5620, aka biker skinny, is one of my favourites in our skinny jeans range. They're perfect for a night out.
I prefer the more relaxed shapes at work. Not too big or oversized silhouettes but more relaxed ones. We have a denim fit called the Arc Boyfriend that has a relaxed fit, but is still form-fitting and makes a nice butt.
Why do you think women struggle to find the perfect denim fit?
For most women it can be really stressful to find the right fit of denims. If you look back to the 80s, it was much easier for women. They just wore men jeans, put a belt on and their look was ready. The form wasn’t that important back then. After that, the fit would become smaller with each new year and the closer the fabric got to the body the more important the fit became. I recommend that every woman should visit a specialized denim store where well-trained staff can support you. At our women’s stores, for example, we have staff that knows which fits complement which shapes best. And we also have special changing rooms that should reduce your stress level when shopping. The light is very pleasant and the curtains go down to the floor – everything to make our customers feel comfortable and cared for.
Androgyny has become a key theme for designers lately. What does it mean to you?
I love to play with contrasts. G-star’s womenswear design DNA is primarily driven menswear influence. Which I think is fantastic for women. A woman in a denim overall or jumpsuit is a very refreshing look – compared to a skirt or dress example.
What does the future of denim look like?
We are constantly working on denim innovations. Our latest denim creation is the Elwood Pouch jean. It is a striking and very modern approach to a 5-pocket jean. Also designed for the modern woman as they enable her to have her hands free – the clutch is attached to the jeans.
Have you visited G-Star Women in Hyde Park Corner? Tweet us your thoughts at @ELLEMagazineSA