After individually being titled as stylist, Leonie and Lois met each other 5 years ago at the School of Arts (HKU). They are inspired by each other with their different views on the same projects. Their mutual fascination for crafts and the passion for repurpose waste, results in graduating together with the project Spijkerbrij. In July 2014, they started their own company Leonie & Lois.
How would you describe your work? What is your technique?
To show the whole story and process from waste material to new products we build a portable factory. Our inspiration comes from crafts, by collecting knowledge from craftsman and turn it into a new concept. Spijkerbrij is a result of our visit to the old paper mill in Zaandam, where the still make paper out of old cloth. Instead of making paper of old jeans we wanted to press 3D-products.
"We think it's very important to show how a product is made, and who made it."
Have you shown your collections before? if so, where?
Since last july we have been traveling around with our portable factory. It's great to see such a respond on our project. When we were graduated for only two weeks, our first showcase was at the Modefabriek in Amsterdam. After that we collaborated with stores by doing events together and with schools by giving workshops. In April we were part of the Amsterdam Denim Days and we took our factory international, giving live demonstrations at Salone del Mobile in Milan!
What do you aspire to be?
By showing the whole process of making our products we aim to inspire people by looking at their own waste material and see how fun and easy it can be to create something new out of it. Our mission is to do more projects like Spijkerbrij, where we show what you can do with waste material and collaborate with organizations and companies.
Who are your artistic influences or inspirations? Why?
Our eye-opener and biggest influencer is Porky Hefer from South Africa. During our half year internship working with him, we developed a work method, which we still use here in Holland. Working with waste material, get inspired by (local) culture and enter into collaborations.
Finding your own voice is difficult, where and how do you find your personal creativity?
Just go, try and do. We just drive around, connect with people, search for the right waste material we want to use. Experiment with this material. Listen to craftsman, get knowledge from people around you and see how they work. Spijkerbrij is a result of so many people, putting their knowledge together in one portable factory. But one thing we never loose out of sight; to keep it simple!
Have you recently experienced something that totally blew your mind?
Yes, at the moment we are experimenting with the Spijkerbrij mixture. The first results where great, it blew our mind of the possibilities what we can create out of Spijkerbrij. The potential extends to board material so we can create furniture like closets, tables, chairs, but also flooring or walls. Maybe even a house made out of denim?
Which item in your wardrobe really typifies you? Why?
One item that really typifies our project is our working cloth. We made a jacket of denim (of course), which we wear when we are at work at our factory.
What is your most favorite accessory? Why?
We love a lot of accessories, but we carry around a lot of stuff which become a sort of accessory. Like our ruler, Lois, it's always in her bag! Also, our handmade Leonie & Lois agenda is something we always carry with us. It's our bible.
"Fashion has become so temporary. The industry goes so fast, and it creates a huge surplus of textiles. We are happy to see how the textile industry is slowly developing itself now. "
Are you a people's person or a loner?
We are definitely people's persons, it's so great to meet people at events and stores. It is inspiring for us!
What do you strive for in your work?
Awareness of how products and fashion items are made. It takes a lot of time and energy to create new products or fashion. It should be normal to know how it's made and who made it. That's one of the reasons why we like to keep on creating handmade products, it's a lot of work. We make it, with our own hands.
What are the key factors in your design?
It's handmade and unique. We tell a story, we make it personal, we want to repurpose waste, and show the fun in making something new out of something you thought is useless.
What makes your items different from others? Or what is your designing philosophy?
We think it's nice to give people the chance to get involved in the project. They can help us by handing in their old worn jeans and we can give something back by creating a bow-tie for them from their own old jeans. Also the fact that we show people how it's made and give them the opportunity to do the same is already a different design thinking. Everybody can ask us everything!
"By innovating. Keep on surprising. Never stop playing. "
What does your collection try to communicate? What is your collection about?
Dutch people are true jeans lovers! They buy more jeans than anywhere else in the world. The love for jeans also creates a surplus. 20% of this surplus is unwearable clothing. It’s a shame to waste this strong and beautiful material! We want to repurpose used jeans by pressing different products. This has led tot the portable factory ‘Spijkerbrij’, where we show the entire process. While cycling the fibers will be grinded, while stirring the fibers will be mixed with glue and thereafter the so called ‘Spijkerbrij’ mixture will be pressed in a mold. So far we are focusing on accessories (bowties) and interior products (lamps and seats), but the potential extends to board material to create furniture and even flooring.
What can we expect from you at the festival?
We will bring our portable factory Spijkerbij and show the whole process of old jeans to new product. People are more than welcome to hand in their own old jeans. If you want we can make a bow-tie for you for a special price or it will be part of a new Spijkerbrij with light!
Who are your target consumers?
We made customers happy from a kid at the age of 1, to a 72 year old fashion grandpa and everybody in between. Fashion bloggers who love the concept or young people who love denim and fashion. All the bow-ties are different, so there is a style for everybody.
What is your price range?
Normally our bow-ties are 19.95. We will sell them at FC for 14.95. It takes us two full days of creating the "Spijkerbrij with Light" made of 16 jeans en costs 895,- and the smaller one, made of 8 jeans is 595,-.