An interview taken from our last print issue: In conversation with .. ! The fourth annual KALTBLUT fashion award winner HENKJENZ is a progressive and youthful fashion brand from Rotterdam, Netherlands focused on instinct and excitement. During Fashionclash Festival 2018, the designers behind the brand, Juliette Heijnen and Maurice Muller, unveiled their winning collection: AVOCADO vs. MAYONAISE. We spoke to the duo about topical fashion, challenges faced during production, and how social media is affecting the world around us.
Congratulations! What does winning the KALTBLUT Fashion Award 2018 mean to you?
Winning the award means to us that the journey of the world of HENKJENZ can begin and that we are very grateful that you, KALTBLUT Magazine wants to help promote us.
How important are competitions like this one for your career as a designer?
It’s very important because it can lift up your label and helps to get a bigger reach for people who like to express themselves through fashion.
I’ve followed your work for years. We met in Maastricht during Fashionclash Festival and first got to know each other. How important is a fashion festival like Fashionclash for a young fashion brand?
For us, Fashionclash Festival is the most important because you really can connect with other designers and have the chance to talk to professionals who are already in the field for a long time. This is also one of the first events we went to. Every time we go, we meet new people. It’s an annual reunion for the ones you’ve already met. Compared to other events during fashion week where your show is more private, it’s harder to get the attention of people you want to notice you.
What does it mean to you to be able to present your collection at Fashionclash?
There’s a big international reach, which we didn’t experience on other Dutch fashion platforms.
You don’t have to be skinny or muscular to be beautiful. We live in a time where your body is your temple. You have to love you for you to be the best version of yourself.
How would you describe yourself and your work?
We accept the people around us, exactly the way they are, and find it very important that they at ease. The World of HENKJENZ is all about respect, acceptance, instinct and excitement.
When did you realize that fashion was a world that you were attracted to and that could be your future?
Juliette: I was always busy with what to wear as a child. Viktor & Rolf inspired me at an early age to sketch garments for people, but then I didn’t know what the fashion world was about. Later on, it attracted me to explore how clothing can influence your mood and representation for yourself.
Maurice: For me, it was just a thing to dress cool, I always wanted something else to wear. When I met Juliette, it became clear to me that it could be even crazier and different. I liked it even more from that moment on.
What fascinates you most about the world of fashion?
It fascinates us how every city has its own vibe and style.
What was your winning collection inspired by?
AVOCADO vs. MAYONAISE is inspired by the fact that we don’t have a ‘typical beauty’ type. You don’t have to be skinny or muscular to be beautiful. We live in a time where your body is your temple. You have to love you for you to be the best version of yourself.
We as HENKJENZ work with people who are completely themselves. We are all unique so why try to be someone else?
Your collections always have a topic, a social statement. How important is that for you as a designer?
It’s important for us to connect with the crowd on more than just on the topic of fashion. It’s nice if you like our designs for our designs, but we like to spread a message with HENKJENZ, where one of our keywords is acceptance.
What kind of material did you used for the collection?
For AVOCADO vs. MAYONAISE, we used a mixture of fabrics including jersey, bamboo, fleece and wool.
What challenges did you face during the design process?
Deadlines are probably our biggest challenge, because the further we are in the process, the more ideas come into mind to add to the collection – which is also the most fun part when it comes together at the end on time.
What would you say that is the biggest influence to your design process?
The world around us because we use such political and social themes.
What is your favourite piece of the collection, and why?
The long “Neon Tech Body Warmer” is our favourite piece because we love the tech flock print fabric. We feel it’s both practical and unique.
How important is social media for a young designer?
It’s such a digital time. We find that quite hard sometimes because our process is analogue. We like to see, feel and smell things. Social media makes the world smaller, making it so you can easily connect to people on the other side of the world.
Who are your 3 favourite influencers and why?
Henrik Vibskov, because pattern- wise he’s always exciting. He uses such calming colours in his collection and we are in love with the whole world he creates around his brand. Influencers Louis Rubi and Patrick Mason are two we like very much. They have their own vibe and both in a different way. Louis is always very classy and oversized, which makes it interesting for us with our one size designs and Patrick has his exciting colourful crazy style.
Where do you see the evolution of social media and fashion going over the next 5-10 years?
That is a hard one, hopefully, social media will challenge us to really connect to each other again and not only through apps and electronic devices but really face to face contact. And for fashion, we hope it will make it easier for designers to make the production process more sustainable and that consumers will consider more local designers over fast fashion.
How do you see the future of your fashion brand?
HENKJENZ is still at the beginning of its growth so the world is wide open for us. We hope to enchant the people in the upcoming season with The World of HENKJENZ and spread the word so that more people will get to know us and want to be a part of our world of acceptance. So our next step is to see you all in Berlin and get some stockists so you can shop offline.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a career in fashion, what would it be?
Never stop dreaming about what you want to accomplish in fashion. You have to be sure you are not a quitter because it can be hard and take some time before you see the result you want from the fashion world around you.
What are your three must-have items for every fashion lover for the next Spring/Summer season?
We think a unique pair of sneakers, for the sunny weather, an oversized T-shirt that feels comfortable and HENKJENZ shorts for sure!