Photo: Frauke Bönsch (fash.de) Hair: Theresia Pistel MUA: Melli Horn (both the-mup.com)
Janet along with business partner and friend Kai Unger, have established a formidable name within the German vintage inspired clothing scene, with their high quality and great designs, I had the privilege of interviewing Janet to find out what really makes her tick.
What inspired you to start your business and the philosophy behind your clothing range?
I have always had an interest in vintage fashion design and from 2004 I used to offer custom made garments inspired by various genres and decades and that is how my first fashion label of VECONA started. When I visited New York in 2007 I experienced a whole new World of live swing bands and dancing of which struck a new chord with me. Back in Germany we hired a dance teacher and established our Deca-Dance party series with friends. This provided us with inspiration to produce our first ready-to-wear garments and the start of the Vecona Vintage Collection. In 2009 we started with three looks for ladies and gentlemen and have added new designs on a regular basis.
We design and produce high quality garments that you can wear for a very long time. A feature of our men’s trousers is that they have a split waistband so they can be easily adjusted if your measurements change over time (i.e. just after Christmas!). Many pieces are lined for comfort and protection of the upper material. This way our woollen garments won’t scratch you and do not sag around the bottom and knee areas.
All garments are developed with swing dancers in mind so they allow a lot of movement. Even the slimmest pencil skirts provide room for big steps or an A-frame with clever pleats or wrap details.
Because we are independent from the ever changing fast fashion industry, we don’t change the collection every season but add new items on a regular basis. This way you can start building up your vintage style wardrobe and add matching pieces one by one.
What are the most popular items you sell?
The ladies tweed ensembles are very popular, as you can mix and match the particular pieces and get a complete wardrobe from a few garments. The waistcoats can be matched with the wide Marlene style trousers, an A-line skirt, knickerbockers and even shorts! With different blouses you can add a pop of colour to your outfit which makes it go a long way.
Also Vecona vintage dresses are amazing wardrobe staples because they offer a solution to every vintage styling crisis you might have. Our crepe dress Evita which can be accessorized with rhinestone jewellery and metallic heels is a real show stopper at night. With a scarf and wedges it’s just perfect for a busy day – just so versatile.
We also have a high demand for our men’s range, made in various materials and styles to get the classy 1930s look or to achieve the casual worker style of the time.
What do you find the most challenging aspects of your career?
As we are a small but growing read-to-wear clothing label, one of the most challenging aspects is finding high quality materials in minor quantities that meet our expectations at a reasonable price. Many suppliers only sell in larger bulk so sourcing our suppliers for an exclusive item such as the custom made embossed metal buttons has been time consuming but well worth it.
How does the love of vintage clothing and the vintage scene compare in Germany to the UK?
Since we correspond with vintage lovers in the UK mainly via online media we are not familiar enough to make direct comparisons. In Germany however, we are very much aware of the historical and social background of the era so we prefer to’ dust things off’ and put them in a modern context, instead of doing the 100% authentic re-enactment. We’re happy to not have to relive that time, but pick and choose the beautiful, elegant and artful elements to enjoy in our modern life. We appreciate the convenient time saving achievements of today like computers and washing machines. Even more than that, we value democracy and women’s rights. But we embrace and love vintage fashion, old movies and magazines, art deco objects and swinging jazz.
Who do you most admire and aspire to from the 1920/40s eras in respect of fashion designers and iconic celebrities of the time?
As many ladies out there I love the glamour and grace of old Hollywood actresses like Hedy Lamarr, Myrna Loy’s Wit or Jean Harlow’s boudoir style and that out of reach diva image they represent until this day. I admire ladies like Amelia Earhart and Heidi Hetzer (who is still alive and striving) who where so much ahead of their time; adventurous and daring. You will certainly find these influences and styles in our Vecona vintage collection!
Regarding fashion designers – I can’t deny being a huge fan of Elsa Schiaparelli since I was a girl. It is because her concepts and designs cover so many topics that I love. Her whimsical circus collections, the sparkling celestial theme and her co-operation with contemporary artists are amazing. I also love the foreign influences starting in the 19th century due to World fairs and cultural exchanges with Countries like Japan, China and Russia; this had such an impact not only on European fashion design but all fields of art and crafts.