Meet Verena Schepperheyn, a young fashion designer based in Berlin. She found her label in 2014 and since then, her work keeps growing and evolving. The brand shows a great focus for details and a big attention on the different stages of the design process. It’s all about the fusion of the classical menswear tradition and contemporary influences. This, approached with clean cuts and interesting embroideries, results in a fresh and unique work.
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Your A/W 2016 collection was inspired from your family crest and the fishermen world. Having had a blank paper in front of you, where did you start your S/S 2017 collection from? What’s the story and concept behind it?
I like starting with a new collection. Normally I’m already bored with what I have done before and I can’t wait starting something new. However, usually I start going through the research folder we make for every collection and take a look at the different stages we went by, while working on the last collection. There are many ideas, concepts, techniques and try-outs which didn’t feel right at that moment, but attract my attention at the present and lead to new concepts and ideas. There I found a picture of the artist Oscar Murillo. I decided to have a closer look at his work and the work of other contemporary painters. Inspired and fascinated by the approach and the intensity of the colours and techniques used, I started working on the prints and textiles.
Your last pieces are way more minimalistic and lately you have been choosing more neutral colours compared to your past collections. Is this because you are following the fashion trend of minimal patterns and simple lines or is your vision and approach changed from your past one?
Working on a collection is quite a personal process, I choose colours really intuitively for example. For S/S 2017 I played with a touch of colour in the otherwise largely monochromatic compositions. I don’t really follow trends, but of course what you see everyday influences your work. As I said before, I easily get bored by shapes and colours, so it was also an idea of challenging my aesthetics by working in another direction without loosing my signature, but that won’t mean that all the coming collections will be as clean as S/S 2017. 
I can see this difference also in the shapes of your garments. Having started from playing with a lot of layers and structures, you are now deconstructing and cleaning the lines. Can you tell a little bit more about this?
The garments are cleaner as I thought it would be interesting to reduce styles without loosing the story behind it. My collections always show a certain stage of the process. I find it really inspiring to look at topics that have already been of interest to me in the past. That’s why the research also starts by looking back, and later connecting it with new ideas and inspirations.
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Have you minimised the style because your previous collection was remarked of being genderless?
I was not always happy having the clothes been mainly perceived as genderless. I think both men and womenswear is naturally dealing with gender differences. That was never intended to be my main focus. I wanted to focus the attention more on elements like textures, prints, etc. 
Your collections are entirely produced between Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. How do you manage and treat the sustainable theme in your production?
It’s really important to keep an eye on how the pieces are produced to me. I want to assure that they are made under fair conditions and that’s why it felt just right to keep it as close as possible. The main production is located in the south of Germany, also the knitwear is produced in a small factory in Germany. The prints are made at a company in the Netherlands, whom I have been working with from when I was still a student at ArtEZ. Directing face-to-face with highly skilled manufacturers gives the production a personal level: the quality, the design and also the sustainability of the products is getting profit by that. 
Your collection and your style is made out of contrasts: you mix interesting textures and unique embroideries/stitching with clean lines and traditional tailoring techniques. We can find completely solid coloured garments combined with bright and intense prints. Does this represent two different sides of Verena or do you aim to make your garments accessible to various styles?
I like playing with contrasts and I’m intrigued by both worlds, but I find it especially interesting to see how they interact when they meet together. It’s about balancing out the possibilities in men’s fashion what fascinates me most. But it is also important to me that every piece can live without the others and can be combined in different ways. In the end of the day I want to see men wearing my clothes, so it’s not only about telling stories but also about creating pieces that can be worn.
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A point that really matters to you is to make quality fashion with affordable prices. How do you manage to embrace both of these elements at once?
The personal contact with the production helps to figure out how to keep production’s costs low by still keeping up the best quality possible. I try to keep an eye on both elements to aim for quality and original products in a reasonable price category.
Before founding your own label in 2014 you have worked for Viennese designer Ute Ploier. How has this designer influenced your work and your vision of fashion? 
It was great working for Ute Ploier. I learned a lot from her. The time I spent there helped defining my way of creating collections. It was also amazing to learn the different aspects and challenges of having a label and dealing with production and suppliers. Working there definitely influenced my aesthetic.
I find your prints very unique and interesting and I see you take inspiration from paintings or photos, for example with the A/W 2016 sparkling coat that has a printed coral reef. How does the process of choosing a certain print work?
I love to work with prints. The printed coral reef was a picture taken during a diving trip in Australia back in 2008. It was always a good memory and I kept looking at those pictures for years. But for that collection it finally felt right to use it as the main motif. The atmosphere drawn by that, reminded me of that quiet, calm underwater experience back then. Pictures, paintings, hand drawings, lines or collages of collected slips of paper built the prints of the past collections. I like to combine different techniques while creating a print, but there is never one specific formula I follow.
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