Stylist Christian Stemmler: “Fashion should be political”

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Photo & Styling / Publishing

Styling is more than merely picking clothes for editorial or commercial shoots. According to Christian Stemmler it can be a political act. In this interview, he tells us about his job: a lesson in how trends emerge

A good stylist can elevate the most basic piece of clothing, let’s say a white polo shirt, into a desirable product, all by putting it into context.

Stylists need to have a fine sense of what is going on around them. They are the ones who connect a designer’s work with the audience and as such they need to know what their cravings are at a particular moment in time.

What is the feel of the moment? Want more edge? Put said polo shirt on a skinny boy with a shaved head, button it up and combine it with a pair of black laced leather trousers and moto-cross boots. Is the mood more country club? Loosen the top button, choose a pair of khakis and put the outfit on a man with a side parting.

 

One of Stemmler’s preferred labels to shoot: KTZ

 

When I first met Christian „Stemmi“ Stemmler more than ten years ago, he was an assistant, carrying a big blue bag, (you know, the ones you get at Ikea), collecting samples from Berlin designers for a shoot.

Today, Stemmler is well over the stage of being an apprentice. He is not only a renown freelance stylist and creative consultant for various fashion brands in his own rights, he is also fashion editor-at-large for the German edition of L’Officiel Hommes.

So what is Stemmler’s feel of the moment? „Stemmi“ feels political responsibility, regarding diversity and the blurring of the genders. And Berlin club kids. Read on for a lesson in how trends emerge.

(Credits both header images: Kristin-Lee-Molmann for L’Officiel Hommes)

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Monocle summit: print is the “spiritual home” of a brand

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Publishing

An international panel of renowned journalists (among them Olivier Royant of Paris Match or Christoph Amend of Zeit Magazin) gather at the Monocle Summit to share their thoughts on the current state of print, publishing in general and journalism. Tyler Brûlé, Monocle’s founder and editor-in-chief, and his staff host the conference on January 2, 2017 in London. 

”People have been asking ’is print dead?‘ for almost two decades now. It’s getting a bit old. … If I look at our five year business plan right now, there’s nothing which removes the printed issue of Monocle from the core, not just as the spiritual home of the brand, but I think also as the big money maker. It is still where the core profit for our business resides“, says Tyler Brûlé in an interview he gives me in the beginning of 2016.

Earlier this year, he and his staff host the Monocle Media Summit in London. Given his quote, its motto comes as no surprise:

”Enough now! Print is not dead.“

You can see the evidence at every newsstand. Not all titles might be commercially successful but just as TV never managed to kill the radio, print and online seem to be finding a way to coexist.

 

Monocle_Christoph_Amend_Tyler_Brule

Editor-in-chief of German Zeit Magazin Christoph Amend and Monocle’s Tyler Brûlé

 

More and more titles keep popping up and, in fashion, print seems to be as relevant as ever – at least that is what fashion brands’ PR agents seem to think when you observe how they still favour print over online. Freebies for influencers aside, you’ll have a harder time getting samples for an editorial shoot that is for online only, than for a classic spread in a printed publication.

Mandie Bienek of Press Factory, first and oldest fashion PR agency in Berlin, tells me in an interview earlier this year:

”From my observations, when I take a look at the under 20 years olds, there will be two relevant directions in publishing: On the one hand, print that has a certain quality, that may become a collectible, a magazine as a coffee table book, publications that stand out and are different, are brave, stand for something; on the other hand, there will be all the 24 hour real-time online channels that will feed us news in all kind of fields, obviously also fashion.“

The magazine is the hub, it is what connects all the channels. Granted, for many the question still is, how to keep up the revenue stream that everybody is used to from the old days. A lot of fashion and lifestyle books are being kept alive artificially by investors from other industries who buy themselves into the world of glamour. But then, „Culture cannot always be profitable, it always needed support“, says photographer Christop Mack.

So, according to the panel at the Monocle Summit, where is print going? Spoiler: Although it is being established that print is still alive, no concrete recipes are given on how to keep it alive financially while revenue streams are shifting to digital. However, valuable insights are discussed that will show what a good publication is made of in the 21st century.

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Robert Bartholot: “I’m not looking to capture reality”

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Photo & Styling / Publishing

How do you make an image count in times of Instagram? Make them as elaborate and unique as you can. Artist Robert Bartholot says he is not a photographer, his camera is merely a tool: “It’s about the image, not photography.”

As with everything else in this world, digitalisation has its pros and cons. A pro: I can publish this article without having to move from my desk or hammock and still reach a worldwide audience.

Before digital, you’d either be part of an editorial office (for a print publication or a broadcaster) or you’d literally spend hours at the copier to put together your fanzine (probably the analogue equivalent to a blog) – and then, your audience would be very limited.

A con: since copying and pasting is no longer a matter of hours at the machine but rather a matter of a click, we are being exposed to an endless stream of information, at every moment of the day.

We are being bombarded with images. What’s a picture worth these days? And why bother making them yourself if reposting the ones of others brings you just as many likes?

 

Robert Bartholot: never being boring

 

Because someone has to. Otherwise we’ll be drowning in endless repetition and, eventually, die from boredom. The artist Robert Bartholot is one of the people who make sure this is not going to happen. The elaborate compositions he photographs are far from the random Insta-snapshots that are out there in abundance.

Bartholot gave me two hours of his time and this is the essence of we talked about. Take a glimpse at how creativity happens – picture by picture.

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Storytelling: when retailers become media providers

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(e)Retail / Publishing

Steven Cook, partner at Edenspiekermann („digital products, brands and service experiences with attitude“), talks about the importance for brands and retailers to integrate the digital space to tell their story

The history of retail is a story of change. We might forget this today, as „digital“ seems so disruptive. However, back in the day, wasn’t the arrival of the department store just as disruptive to all the specialty stores with their snobbish staff that would turn up their noses if you didn’t buy what they showed you? Didn’t the supermarket shake up the landscape of grocery shopping? What about the effects of home order television or outlets on city centres? At pretty much every point in time, retailers had to adapt – or they would disappear from their customers’ shopping lists.

Yes, the digital transformation can be daunting. Advancements in technology happen fast and what was hot yesterday might not be tomorrow. Plus, revenue streams might not be what physical retailers are used to, at least when you make your first steps in the digital world.

Nevertheless, some of those advancements – broader bandwidths and ever smarter stationary and mobile devices – open possibilities never known to tell a story and, eventually, make a sale.

Steven Cook is a partner at Edenspiekermann, self-proclaimed agency for „digital products, brands and service experiences with attitude“. He tells us how important it is for brands to integrate the digital space to tell their story, what the challenges are and how to face them.

(The header image shows Steven Cook with his wife Maxi. It has nothing to do with this story, other than luring you in with attractiveness.)

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„Don’t be guided by fear“ – about opening a retail business

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(e)Retail / Publishing

With no background in retail, friends and business partners Anke Lönne and Saskia Willich opened Alma („Kicks for ladies“) last October. We talk about whether things are going according to plan and what to do if they don’t. 

Having an idea is one thing. Turning it into reality is another. Every once in a while, some of us dream of changing careers, of opening a little hotel or café. But most of us never do it.

Anke Lönne is a successful manager for people in the media industry, TV presenters for example. She had an idea for a long time. She loves baking and sneakers and she always had a little shop in mind: „Torten & Turnschuhe“. That’s German for „Cakes & Kicks“. She loves baking, but shoe shopping often became a frustrating affair. She likes the cool kicks for the boys, the limited editions. Most of the times they wouldn’t be available in smaller sizes for women.

The idea was there and Lönne had already identified a little niche in the market. In 2015 plans become more concrete and Lönne asked her friend Saskia Willich, who has a background in marketing, to help her with the business side of things. The working together intensified and the two became business partners.

In October 2016 they opened Alma (that’s Lönne’s mum’s name). Alma is a physical store in Cologne, but also an online shop and community for women who like sneakers. Kicks for kids are also available.

With no experience in retail, Lönne and Willich have a fresh take on things. Five months after the opening, we talk about whether things are going according to plan.

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