Ade Velkon is a Berlin-based fashion label founded by Molly McDonnell & Kathrin Kaiser in the year 2013. With Californian and Austrian roots both bring in a diverse background of tradition, handcraft, design experience and aesthetic vision. The label focuses on women’s clothing with a slight hint to androgyny.
The main principles of Ade Velkon are to create modern and “sustainable through design” clothing for people.
We started with basic classic shapes and spent a long time refining the cuts to be as easy going and flattering as possible.
For those that don’t know Ade Velkon and the team behind it, could you tell us a little bit about the label, yourselves and what you do?
Molly: Kathrin and I met in the summer of 2013. A friend introduced us at a party and we got to talking about our mutual interest in fashion. I had been working as a tailor and she in the accessories branch. We hit it off right away and realized we were both looking for similar changes in our careers. We decided to start meeting regularly to share ideas and before long we found ourselves working on a collection together. Just a few months after meeting we invited friends over to our working space and showed them what we had been up to. We got such good feedback that first event, that we were really motivated to keep going with our collaboration. The label just kind of grew from there.
When it comes to the design process and all creative decisions, Kathrin and I work pretty equally and everything is done in-house to date. We like to work with local professionals to help us reach our audience and customers, whether it is a seamstress or a student studying fashion management. Otherwise we manage all aspects of the business together.
“We like the idea of basics and our urge is to create basics you can wear for a very long time and always have the option to style these items in different ways.”
What do you feel are your label’s main principles and ideals? And in what way has that translated into your work, the way you operate?
Kathrin: The main principles are for sure to create modern and “sustainable through design” clothing. Right now we design for women, but we communicate our designs for both genders. Since the very beginning we have talked about unisex designs and even in our art work we integrate this subject. I follow a lot of men’s brands, but also brands like Vetements and Jacquemus are great inspirations for us. They definitely affect our designs and give us a lot of interesting input. Mainly we try to create pieces built on former designs, or pieces which are easy to style with a lot of other garments from our collections, or clothes you already have hanging in your wardrobe. We like the idea of basics and our urge is to create basics you can wear for a very long time and always have the option to style these items in different ways.
We create stories, something like fairy tales without words. At the heart of the story is a woman and we send her on different travels each collection. She gives us a focus within the collection. Her strengths and weaknesses, her fears and tricks to survive. Its a bit abstract though and never important if she achieves something in the end. We put her in a scenario and then see where Molly and I bring her together. It sets a mood and her environment inspires us, nature inspires us.
Tell us more about the current collection / that you are featuring on The Loppist. What’s the idea or inspiration behind it? What were you trying to achieve with it?
Molly: This current collection was greatly inspired by an abstract picture we created of a moment in imagined time where a lake becomes a desert, and gravity loses its strength, creating a feeling of weightlessness. The terrain is rugged, with hardly any vegetation. There is a feeling of survival and movement is slowed down almost unnaturally, although the senses are highly exaggerated. From these very obscure images we started to pull concrete design ideas. We wanted to achieve a slightly more sporty collection while retaining an elegant simplicity.
“All of our creations are limited since we mostly work with dead end fabrics. But what we offer on the The Loppist is a very unique fabric called fabric spacer. It’s quite technical.”
What for you really defines your label and why do you feel your customer opts to buy the products you make?
Kathrin: Hmm, what it defines is probably the materials we choose and the plainness of the cuts. We work with almost no details, or very subtle. I think our customers like this minimal design direction. It gives them a little edge. Our clothes are designed, but they are not intrusive as a design on the body. They are still clothes.
Molly: Although our clothing may come across as having a very clean and minimalist aesthetic, we do enjoy being playful with silhouettes. Having harmonious proportions is really important to me, but I also like to push this idea and explore purposeful disharmony in shapes. If we have, for example, a garment that is really extreme in shape, color, or material choice we like to pair it with something understated. We always like to give our customer the option to be daring in her dress choices, but in perhaps a more subtle way than often seen in the fashion world. It is also extremely important to me that our customer has the ability to make our clothing her own, which is why we love items that can be worn in many different ways.
Kathrin and I are both very active women juggling various activities on a daily basis. I think our creations reflect this in the sense of the versatility in our designs. I think our label also says a lot about the kind of women we both strive to become.
All of our creations are limited since we mostly work with dead end fabrics. But what we offer on the The Loppist is a very unique fabric called fabric spacer. It's quite technical.
Can you tell us about the materials you use? where do you source them? did you experiment with others?
Molly: Since we currently source all our materials from dead stock we are able to use really good quality fabrics that were at one point produced for other purposes in greater quantity, but have leftover meters. This offers us a more sustainable approach and even encourages inspiration through restriction. Having a limited supply of fabric meters encourages us to be unexpectedly creative in our designs and encourages limited waist. Since we build our silhouettes pretty organically from one collection to the next, we allow ourselves to be more experimental in our color and fabric choices and are pretty open to using a wide array of different fiber combinations and fabric weaves.
Describe your path to becoming designers? Were you surrounded by art and design when you were younger? Was it something you picked up from your family, or did it just mature naturally?
Kathrin: My dad has a sense and passion for art and design, but the rest of my family is not so into aesthetics. They are all very down to earth. At the age of 14 I applied and was accepted to an art and design school where I spent five years taking art history and hands on classes. After that I knew for sure that I wanted to continue studying art. It came naturally and to he honest I didn’t know what else to do. Art was the closest thing to me at that time. Fashion introduced itself much later. I was interested in fashion for a long time, but not in a professional way. I had never imagined starting my own label, but when Molly crossed my path and and we started to talk about our own garment designs, I realized how much of a passion I had for this. I could immediately see so much potential working with her.
Molly: I always had an acute interest in clothing and how I dressed myself even as a young child. I wouldnt say I was especially drawn to the fashion industry itself, but rather the relationship between clothing and the body and how different clothing can change one’s emotional state for better or worse. I started working at a high end vintage clothing boutique as a teeanger, as a side job while in high school. I was fascinated with old clothing, and loved studying the construction of all these beautiful old dresses, and at the same time I was really disappointed with the kind of street clothing I saw around me at the time. It was at that point that I decided I wanted to study fashion design.
We make everything in house either by us personally or we get help from local tailors. It is really important for us that our garments are produced in Europe and we strive to support local business as much as possible.
Can you share with us a little known detail about the design process that you have discovered?
Molly: I try not to be too specific in my ideas during the beginning stages of the design process. I have never been much of an illustrator so I tend to sketch out basic shapes with only some construction information. It isn’t until I get my hands on fabric and am draping at the mannequin that I really feel the pieces come to life. If I relied solely on my sketches I would be so limited in my creations. I guess I’m more tactile in my approach.
Why did you decide to collaborate with The Loppist?
Kathrin: Its interesting being part of something new and upcoming. That gives you freedom in some way and you’re part of the creation. We liked the concept and wanted to make a contribution.
What’s lined up for Ade Velkon for the rest of the year?
It’s for sure that we will have an event for Fashion Week Berlin. There is the plan to visit Fashion Week Paris too, as well as go to various buying and selling fairs and connect with production houses in Europe. Production for AW15 is coming up too. We will see how much time and energy we have to do it all. The collection is always priority though.
Images courtesy of Ade Velkon.