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_pictureLayla
What do you do backstage when your dad is a stage manager? You start playing—with rope he doesn’t need anymore, for example. Layla De Mue took this childhood memory to the next level and turned it into a sustainable accessories line. The collection is called Knothingelse, and just a couple of years after its launch it has made it into Vogue—a major milestone in every designer’s career. That De Mue cares about the future of this planet doesn’t just show in her interest in sustainability, but also in the interplay between fashion and technology in her work.
Which piece of clothing in your wardrobe have you been wearing the longest?

I got this white fluffy jacket from my mum. There are pictures of me wearing it in kindergarten as a (really oversized) “ice princess costume” and I still wear it during German autumn weather. I look like a yeti but it still feels so cosy.

Knothingelse is your sustainable accessories line made from cords and silver-plated hoses. What’s the idea behind it?

As the daughter of a New York Broadway actress and a German stage manager, my childhood took place on tour behind the scenes of a huge cultural industry. The inspiration for the statement jewellery is based on my father; as a master of event technology, he needed ropes and special knots for security when working above stages at a height of 35 metres. I began weaving objects out of his broken, old ropes, which over time has evolved into a collection of high quality materials with a focus on sustainable, handcrafted production.

Why is sustainability important to you?

In the early development stages of the product, it disturbed me that I couldn’t receive any transparency from the suppliers about their production. There are many ways of being sustainable, as this term is widely defined. The fashion industry is one of the biggest industries in the world and has such a bad impact in many different facets of its existence, whether concerning human issues like working conditions or harmful chemicals for our skin, or the environmental issues when it comes to chemicals, transportation and waste. I wanted to consider those effects and not just create sustainably, but also communicate the importance of changing the usual ways of production in the hope that, over time, this wisdom will be in everyone’s minds.

© Sophie Kietzmann for British Vogue

Why is sustainability important to you?

In the early development stages of the product, it disturbed me that I couldn’t receive any transparency from the suppliers about their production. There are many ways of being sustainable, as this term is widely defined. The fashion industry is one of the biggest industries in the world and has such a bad impact in many different facets of its existence, whether concerning human issues like working conditions or harmful chemicals for our skin, or the environmental issues when it comes to chemicals, transportation and waste. I wanted to consider those effects and not just create sustainably, but also communicate the importance of changing the usual ways of production in the hope that, over time, this wisdom will be in everyone’s minds

Fashiontech is another of your interests. You’re working on a coat that turns touch into sounds, for example. How do fashion, sustainability and technology blend together for you?

I believe these aspects are shaping the future of fashion. There are many directions the industry could go in, and these can be responsible for a more positive approach towards the textile and fashion industry. Technology can improve the conditions of fashion production, but it won’t do any good if you don’t take a sustainable approach.

You’ve recently been featured in Vogue, which is pretty much every designer’s dream. How did that feel?

When I received their request to present my brand at British Vogue, I was confused at first and thought I’d accidentally bought a subscription for a Vogue issue. Being featured in Vogue is amazing. It gives me the feeling that my approach towards design and sustainability is accepted and supported, not just by the people that are close to me, but also by international fashion experts.

 

Thanks to Layla for taking the time to speak with us, and to Björn Lüdtke for the interview.

Credit portrait Layla: Luba Lubinskaia.

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