Brand To Know: Style Q+A With Designer Lisa Konno
During my recent stay in Amsterdam, I met up with the wonderful Lisa Konno,
a name to watch in the thriving world of mindful fashion. Lisa Konno graduated two years ago from the prestigious Artez, a renowned fashion college in Arnhem, the Netherlands and moved swiftly to Amsterdam as an artist in residence in the WOW building. She showed her “For the Workers” show during Amsterdam Fashion Week in 2015 and designs beautiful collections for fellow Amsterdam-based mindful fashion company Afriek. With her work, she wants to raise awareness about the fast fashion industry and the unethical ways it brings about. Always researching new ways to source and recycle materials, ethical production and sales she is trying to set a new standard for high fashion but never loses good design and her signature element of optimism and fun out of sight. Here are her tips for where to shop, eat, and what books to read and documentaries to watch.
Maaike Mekking: How would you describe your style?
Lisa Konno: I guess if I have to break it down in three words I would describe my style as eclectic, easy and young. I wear and design a lot of colourful printed items and in terms of shape, I like things to be very straightforward with an easy fit. I say young because I've noticed that a lot of my clothes have ‘childlike’ aspects like goofy socks, huge pantsuits or oversized schoolbags.
How do you acquire your clothes, what are your shopping rules?
I mostly buy second-hand clothing. I like big thrift stores that are super cheap where you have to dig to get to the good stuff. The dutch bank holiday “Koningsdag” is a day where the entire city turns into a huge flea market. I tend to buy a lot of stuff there once a year and only spend about 40 euros. I also wear a lot of old clothing from my mother and grandmother. When I do buy something new I want to know how and where the item was made, and it has to be something that I think I will wear a lot and can’t easily make myself.
Do you have an archetypal outfit that you would happily wear at any time of your life?
Not really, I like having a lot of options. However, I do tend to wear a lot of button down shirts. I have them in a lot of colours and prints and they will probably always be an important part of my wardrobe.
What’s the first “investment” item you ever bought? Do you still own it or wear it?
In the last six years, I have only ever bought one item in a mass chain store. I am really against mass production in fashion but my greed took over once and I bought a beautiful black dress from &Other Stories. It cost 180 euros and the most money I had ever spent on an item of clothing. I accidentally put it in the dryer and it shrunk so much that I can't fit into it anymore… karma.
What was the most transformative conversation that you ever had on the topic of fashion and style?
That's a hard one... I don't have a clear idea of a specific conversation in mind. I think conversations with design teachers or classmates at art school, were that once that were most transformative.
What role does art, music, literature and film play in your life?
Definitely and important one. These forms of art are equally a break away from my work and a huge influence on my work. Enjoying movies, books, art etc is like an escape from daily life and at the same time, it inspires the work that I do on a daily basis. Art exhibitions are very much direct inspirations because they can be so visually triggering. Even when I hate a piece of art it is useful to be aware of the why. When it comes to books I usually like an author and then just read their books for a while until I'm sick of it. I’m really into Haruki Murakami’s books at the moment. Actually, with music, it’s kind of the same deal. I go through extensive phases.
Where do you live and what do you like most about the place?
I live in Amsterdam. I like that it has the atmosphere of a big city, there is a lot to do, but it has a small village type feeling at the same time. Because you can cycle everywhere, there is lots of water and there are neighborhoods that are not yet gentrified.
What is your favourite independent or vintage store?
Could you recommend a tailor, a cobbler, and an eco-friendly dry cleaner in your neighborhood?
The most eco-friendly dry cleaning tip I have is to hang your clothing in the bathroom while you have a hot shower and then hang it outside. For a good tailor: Rio Kledingatelier on the Marnixstraat.
Do you have a favourite book/film on the subject of conscious fashion/ environmentalism/ mindful living,…?
“Het einde van bezit” is a great documentary from the Dutch public broadcaster VPRO about a new economic system that could drastically change the way we produce and use things. A lot of documentaries are shocking in how it showcases how bad humans affect the world, but this one focuses on a quite concrete solution which I think is nice. The documentary “Cowspiracy” really changed my view on eating meat and fish drastically. I already knew that it was bad for the environment, but the scale of damage that it causes blew my mind. The film “Racing Extinction” is also really on point on that subject but from a different angle. “The True Cost” is a good one to watch when it comes to the impact of the fashion industry on the environment.
What is your favourite organic/local produce restaurant?
I like Vinnies Deli in De Haarlemmerstraat.
Lisa's favourite vegan recipe:
"I like this recipe because it has the heartiness that meat has too. I think that
only eating vegetables can sometimes be boring but if you mix the structures that you prepare them with it is a good competitor for meat. ;)"
Tempura flour (3 tablespoons)
Sparkling water (3 tablespoons)
For the sauce:
Half a lime
Ginger (small chunk, grated)
Soy sauce (2 tablespoons)
A few drops of sesame oil
A few drops of sambal oelek
Make the batter by mixing the tempura flour with the sparkling water. Dip the
slices of eggplant in the batter (make sure they are fully covered). Then drop them slowly into the hot frying oil until they are light brown on both sides. Serve the slices on some kitchen towels together with the dipping sauce.
Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce, stir and voila!
Photography and interview by:
Maaike Mekking is a London-based photographer, design consultant, and stylist, working in the areas of fashion, film, and interior. A Royal College of Art graduate with a masters in fashion design she has garnered a wealth of experience, having worked with brands such as Alberta Ferretti, Alexander McQueen, and Gloverall as well as the conscious line at H&M. Having recently consulted for a British heritage brand, Mekking is currently working as a stylist and art director on fashion shoots and is contributing her photos
on a regular basis to The Lissome.
Follow her on Tumblr or Instagram.