Katharina & Theresa from WE.RE
For our first #HangingOut episode, we had the absolute pleasure to chat with our friends Katharina (left) and Theresa from WE.RE, who started out with a temporary design project in 2014 in Munich and turned it into a fashion label that is here to stay. From finances, false assumptions and breaking into fashion design – here’s what you need to know about founding your own label.
What was your dream job as a child?
T: Fashion Designer
What’s the best thing about your job?
Worst thing about your job?
If you weren’t fashion designers, what would you be?
T: Unemployed (laughs). No, I think I’d be a pilot.
Have you always been interested in fashion?
T: I think I’ve always been interested in clothes and how clothes were made, and the older I got the more interested I became in actual trends and fashion as a career.
K: I’ve always been pretty extrovert and loved expressing that with my personal style, so I think the way I got into fashion was more through creating my own style rather than being interested in certain labels.
You guys met while studying fashion design in Munich. Do you think its essential to go to a fashion school in order to work in this industry?
T: The one thing you definitely need is to learn your craft, be it by studying fashion design or a traineeship. People tend to forget that creating clothes is a craft, and that you have to learn how to master it.
K: Going to a fashion school definitely helps you focus on your future in this specific industry, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t work in the field coming from a different background.
Often times fashion design students end up becoming editors or working in other fields in the industry. Why do you think that is?
K: Being a designer is probably the most competitive job you can pick in fashion. There are a lot of talented graduates competing for a limited number of jobs, which is my some choose a different path at first. However, I also think it’s the most creative field in fashion, and I believe that the more time you spend away from designing, the more you’ll lose parts of that creativity.
T: Many people working in fashion started out at a very young age, not knowing how versatile this industry really is. 'Fashion designer' is kind of the obvious choice, it’s the one title everyone knows. So once some graduates realize what’s out there, they might pick a different path.
How did your label WE.RE originally start in 2014?
T: We were both looking for a new creative project in Munich. Looking back I can say we wanted to make fashion, but according to our own rules and conditions. So we were thinking 'How can we, as two young designers, stand out of the crowd?'. That’s how WE.RE was born, and what started as a pop-up project is now a full-blown label.
How important was the financial support of family/friends to start your own label?
Both: Obviously it was important to have the support of friends and family throughout the stressful times, especially towards the end. However, that is not speaking in terms of monetary support – we almost solely funded this project ourselves. But we had so many helping hands in putting the original pop-up shop together – and that was very, very important!
How does a typical business day look like for you now that you’ve grown from being a pop-up project to having your first store in Munich?
K: I would say no day is the same apart from the obvious routine of opening (and closing) the store. Most days it’s the three of us (the girls’ intern has just joined us, coffee in hand), working on all sorts of different projects. That can range from sketching and sewing to marketing tasks and business emails.
T: The only routine we got going on is cleaning in the morning (laughs).
What’s the starting point of a new collection? How do you get inspired?
K: It usually starts with one of us being inspired by something and forming an idea in our heads, and then we start getting deeper into that theme. We start gathering images and moodboards and do research to get a 'base', and then go from there.
T: I won’t deny that like any other label we’re also inspired by trends, but I think it’s essential to also look for inspiration outside of fashion. We get inspired by travelling or things as trivial as a dream, and I believe that’s how our designs keep improving.
Is there a difference in how you approach designing womens and mens wear?
T: For women, we only design pieces that we ourselves would wear as well. Same goes for menswear – we design pieces that we would put on our men (laughs). A lot comes down to trusting our gut!
K: Menswear in general is way more 'ordinary',so we try to design pieces that match our aesthetic but also add something special to a look. Our clients really appreciate that we focus on both women and men – and even have pieces that both can rock!
What’s the biggest false assumption about the job of a fashion designer?
K: 'Oh so you sew all of your pieces on your own?' (both laugh) We often say we’re designers, without the fashion part – just to avoid all the cliché assumptions! Some people tend to think that fashion designers are superficial, but there’s also others who are super fascinated that this is our actual job.
T: That you spend your days sketching pretty things that turn into clothes – that is the smallest part of our job. 10% of our time we’re fashion designers, the other 90% we’re distributors, marketers, producers – that’s the challenge of having your own business!
How important is it to have influencers wearing your label? Who would you like to see in WE.RE?
T: I think as a label you’re very, very fortunate if it happens, and it can ultimately be a huge catalyst for success. It’d definitely be someone who’s like our customers – independent and interesting beyond their fashion sense. I’d pick Tilda Swinton!
K: We do work with influencers, and we’re always happy seeing them in our pieces. We’ve never had a celebrity wear WE.RE (yet!), but I’d love to see a strong, beautiful woman like Heike Makatsch in our designs.
Speaking to young people who are looking to break into the fashion design scene: What do you look for in an intern, and what are some typical design intern tasks?
T: You need to know how to master the fundamental techniques. As a small business, we simply lack the capacity of teaching our interns the basics. If you work with us, we trust you and truly need the support with all parts of the design process. An interest in fashion and marketing is an asset, as is the willingness to be part of the team.
K: If you work in a small label you will get the full experience. We’ve had interns who, through working here, decided they wanted to start their own label – that’s the kind of guidance internships are perfect for!
What would you say to anyone who wants to become a fashion designer?
K: Believe in yourself and focus on your goal. Not everyone is meant to start their own label, and that’s okay. Keep your eye on what you want to achieve and go for it!
T: Don’t wait for, or expect anyone to make you a designer- go and become a designer! Put in the work, and if you’re not happy with your education or what the working world has in store for you do something about it. We weren’t happy with our job prospects, so we started something new!
What’s your biggest dream for the future?
T: Keep on growing, and some day add a line of accessories!
K: Having stores in other cities and countries would be a dream come true! Finding the right balance between being realistic but also courageous enough to follow our vision is what we’re working on.
Both: Either way, our biggest dream – creating our label - has already come true!
Make sure to check out (and shop) WE.RE here.
Interviewed by: Annika Lange