Denim design & G-Star RAW: talking with Rebekka Bach

As head womenswear designer for G-Star RAW, Rebekka Bach is at the forefront of pioneering denim design for women. Interviewing Rebekka at the Bread and Butter Tradeshow in Berlin last week we discussed the endless possibilities of denim which continue to inspire the innovation and craftsmanship at the heart of the G-Star brand philosophy. Read the interview with Rebekka to discover the latest innovations and key features of the autumn / winter 2013 G-Star RAW collection and find out why G-Star has launched a women’s only store.

Rebekka Bach gstar

What is your background in denim design?
I did my fashion degree in Denmark and I have been working with G-Star for seven years. I’ve worked with denim for more than ten years now.

G-star is experimental. Is experimentation your main approach to denim design?
My team and I are very experimental in denims. We love testing and experimenting; sewing, cutting and shaping to see how we can find the best 3D fit. I think the approach from G-Star is influenced by the very strong brand DNA which comes from our head designer Pierre Morisset. He is a great designer and a great inspiration for me personally, but for G-Star he really set our DNA. Denim craftsmanship is this season’s communication that there are endless opportunities and possibilities in denim. Since creating the first 3D denim we have made several evolutions of 3D denim, for example the Arc pant. I think G-Star is well known for its crafted denims and details.

How would you describe the G-Star woman?
The G-Star women cannot be specifically defined, but I would say she’s tough, very feminine and very independent. It’s not about age; it’s about being classic and timeless. We are very much into innovation, so we combine classic jeans with something very modern, for example the Arc pant which is a modern version of a five pocket skinny jean. The panel inside the leg gives it a three-dimensional shape and enables it to shape much better around the body. This design has been developed from the concept of not designing in 2D but designing around 3D as the body is a three-dimensional object.

Can you tell me more about the concept of the 3D denim design process?
Our craftsmanship comes from an atelier, because when you work in an atelier and work things up on real bodies you realise that when you draw things they become flat, but when you put things on the body they have much more shape. We make things for real woman’s bodies.

gstar denim

G-Star is renowned for its unexpected brand ambassadors. Can you reveal anything about the new G-Star brand ambassador and campaign?
This season the campaign is called the Art of RAW and it features our Skelton dog, which is a running dog. The dog is running, eager to be the first and to be the fastest and it wears a denim jacket to demonstrate the endless possibilities of denim and unexpected combinations of denim. We always put unexpected things together and the campaign shows our passion for denim and the modernity that G-Star is all about. It shows inspiration including how we think about denim; we don’t think about denim as cowboys and old vintage looks, we think about denim in a very modern way. The
campaign showcases our craftsmanship abilities in 3D cuts, as everyone can make clothes for humans but it is a challenge to make clothes for a running dog.

Do you find it is a difficult balance to maintain the traditional G-Star DNA whilst also continuing to innovate the brand?
We are not trying to ‘catch fashion’, for example, we are not trying to create statement catwalk pieces, but we have a very strong DNA and it is not difficult to keep developing new innovations in womenswear. We always have so many things we’d like to put into a new collection and someone has to say ‘No, we cannot do all this!’ The owner of G-Star always tells us when we start anything that the sky is the limit, so we can do whatever we want. We believe everything is possible and we always have so many ideas starting off of how we can explore the endless possibilities of denim. There is nothing that is not possible to do and we want to make it possible to do everything.

Are there any hero products in the autumn / winter 2013 womenswear collection?
Our hero product is called the Jeg Skinny and it is a skinny jegging/jean. The secret is in this jean is not only about fit but about fabric innovation, as the fabric has very high stretch ability and ninety five percent recovery. This means that when you put on the jeans in the morning, they will stay tight and hold until you take them off at night. I know that there are many variations of skinny, slim jeans on the market today, but you are lucky to find jeans which have good stretch and good fit.

gstar denim jeg skinny

Is this the reason why G-Star opened a women’s only store?
Yes, the main reason for the women’s only store is because we realised that it is very hard for women to find the perfect fitting jeans and that is very stressful for women. A lot of stores don’t give any advice about fit and which jeans you should go for depending on your size or shape or the look you would like to have. We found out that we have one of the broadest ranges of women’s denim and in the seven years I have worked for G-Star we have really worked a lot of detailing in to every design and we are very confident that that we have a whole, strong collection every season.

Can you tell me anything about the striking blue colour featured throughout the autumn / winter collection?
We have done a lot of research this season to find perfect blue shades for our denim and we have found a blue colour called the RAW Mazarine, meaning butterfly. We describe the RAW Mazarine as indigo and think of it as shades of deep, dark beautiful blues. The inspiration came from a French fabric called Toile de Chine and the philosophy behind it is to weave a fabric from two directions, weft and warp, to create a very saturated, intense blue colour that is totally unique.

What was the key influence of the autumn / winter collection?
At G-Star we always think about the continuation of 3D denim and denim craftsmanship, and this season we have worked a lot with new silhouettes. For us, silhouettes enable women to express toughness and coolness, and for G-Star women we are influenced a lot by menswear inspired clothing, but fitted to a women’s body.

You often mix denim and tailoring to create masculine silhouettes for women. What can we expect from the autumn / winter collection?
We have a philosophy of pairing unexpected combinations and recently we have been mixing the G- Star RAW look with tailoring. Inspired by Charlie Chaplain, the 3D, low-crotched Charlie pant is a typical G-Star silhouette and is an evolution of the men’s A-Crotch jean. I like these jeans worn with a smart white shirt.

gstar denim

Finally, what is the next big thing in denim?
For autumn / winter in terms of denim wash it is our RAW Mezarine, and for denim fit it is the Jeg Skinny. But we always continue to develop new designs and new silhouettes. We are like the running dog; determined to be the first and the fastest.

For coverage of G-Star’s fall 2013 collection on the runway at Bread & Butter Berlin, follow that link.

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Achieving the perfect curated wardrobe is a perpetual challenge for Jemima, but with an eye for the minimal and classic a timeless wardrobe is never too far away. When she's not shopping for beloved fashion finds you can usually find her reading, writing, socialising or travelling. Though a country girl at heart, UK-based Jemima loves nothing more than to globe-trot to the world's most interesting cities, immersing herself in their eclectic cultures. A lover of history and art alike, more of her musings can be read at her blog, thestylesoliloquist.blogspot.co.uk.