Who’s HauTe: Interview with South African Menswear Designer, Stiaan Louw.
Stiaan Louw is one of the few menswear designers who takes it to the next level. His designs are futuristic and unique, challenging the usual menswear style that most designers opt for. In his new campaign ‘Atletiek’, he brings a new STL man – pushing the boundaries to the maximum and leaving a lot to be desired and talked about.
HFA: Tell us about yourself. Who is Stiaan Louw?
Stiaan Louw: Designer, based in Cape Town with global dreams.
HFA: Career wise, what did you want to be growing up?
Stiaan Louw: I was always drawn to fashion, but also considered journalism and had a fantasy of becoming a dancer. I think dancers have incredible bodies and its a truly beautiful sport. I would like to work more closely with one in the future on a collection.
HFA: How did you get into the fashion industry?
Stiaan Louw: I studied for four years after school. It has been a natural progression from there. I initially worked as a fashion stylist, but knew I wanted to focus on the design process. I showed for the first time at a fashion week platform in 2004, designing for women, and relaunched with menswear in 2008.
HFA: What do you love most about what you do?
Stiaan Louw: The ability to come up with an idea and being able to make it.
HFA: What do you do for fun?
Stiaan Louw: My life revolves around my work. Life is design.
HFA: Do you ever wear your own designs?
Stiaan Louw: I do. Most of my wardrobe consist (s) of my own clothes. I have a bit of a uniform during the week, and own multiples of the same tshirt and trousers. But I also enjoy buying clothes too.
HFA: Who or what inspires Stiaan Louw?
Stiaan Louw: Everything. All at once. My work always presents a series of questions, about identity, sexuality, culture or subcultures…
HFA: What has been the highlight of your career?
Stiaan Louw: I think it is a privilege to have had a dream of becoming a designer and being able to realise that. There is still many goals I would like to reach. They always shift. Nothing is constant.
HFA: Complete the sentence. My style is…
Stiaan Louw: Understated.
HFA: Cape Town is a fashion forward city. Has that ever influenced your designs or the way you design?
Stiaan Louw: I believe everything influences your design process: geography, economy and politics.
HFA: Describe the STL man.
Stiaan Louw: Ever evolving. The SL man of the ‘Atletiek’ collection has evolved from the modern African nomad of the ‘6’ series. He is masculine but at ease with the power of his own sexuality, traditional but globally conscious.
HFA: If your twit-pics are anything to go by, your new collection looks quite different from the nomad of 2011. Can we expect any traces or elements of that modern day nomad/Persian/Arabian style in the collection?
Stiaan Louw: I think there is always a hint of preceding collections in any of my work. Its an evolutionary process. A constant questioning of who I am, where I have come from and where I am heading as a designer. I’ve been told it is different to the work I did in 2011, but that it is still my aesthetic.
HFA: What inspired the collection?
Stiaan Louw: The idea originated in 2010. I already instinctively knew that I would want to change from the deconstructed drapery of the nomad I was creating at the time. It evolved post Joburg Fashion Week last year through ongoing discussions with my art director Michael Cooper. I have been drawn to a more masculine ideal or model as opposed to the androgynous angular ideal I had used since 2008. The influence of the upcoming Olympics on men’s fashion was also evident in 2010 already, hence the sports theme.
HFA: Texture clash, sporty, nudity and bespoke tailoring are some of the terms you have used to describe your new collection. What kind of pieces can we expect from it.
Stiaan Louw: The collection is less deconstructed than the collection I worked on in 2011. I have moved along from draping and have incorporated a more tailored approach. Sport is an underlying theme throughout the collection and ties with the archetypal male sports ideal, hence an exploration of the male form.
HFA: For the shoes you partnered with Missibaba. How did the collaboration come about?
Stiaan Louw: I have collaborated with Missibaba since my Cape Town Fashion Week show in 2008. I have great admiration for their work. Missibaba also made a significant contribution to my Joburg Fashion Week show last year. I approached Chloe Townsend to work on several leather pieces for this shoot, including a piece inspired by American football shoulder pads. The shoes are my favorite collaboration from the pieces. I had such a simple idea and she transformed it by adding the stripes to the flatform sole.
HFA: What can you tell us about your new campaign and film?
Stiaan Louw: Michael Cooper brought Neil Roberts, the photographer and film director, on board in the beginning of 2012 as well as model Thane Guy Williams. They both brought a fresh perspective and completed the missing components to this project. The campaigns are always a collective process. Each person is respected for their unique talent. The clothes seen in the campaign was custom made for Thane who is also an athlete. He became a part of the design process, his proportions and body but also his interaction with the clothes during the whole process. Neil’s natural affinity for the concept and own preceding work was also a part of what I think is possibly my best campaign to date. Michael and I have always had a natural ‘synergy’ and this campaign would not have been possible without him and the discussion we had for nearly a year preceding it.
HFA: When will be the new collection available for sale?
Stiaan Louw: We are still in the design phase. This pre-collection campaign is just the start. Hopefully the full collection will be revealed during a show in July and available for order directly after.
HFA: Where can our readers buy STL merchandise?
Stiaan Louw: Contact email@example.com for more details
HFA: In the past we have seen designers elevate from fashion to home decor and home ware. Is there any possibility of you taking that route in the future?
Stiaan Louw: I don’t have any plans at present. But I would be interested in exploring it.
HFA: Any message (s) for upcoming menswear designers out there?
Stiaan Louw: It is challenging working as a contemporary menswear designer in SA. Surround yourself with people who share your vision and complement your own ability.
Designer: Stiaan Louw
Photographer: Neil Roberts
Model: Thane Guy Williams
Art Director: Michael Cooper
Grooming: Henry Maritz
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Designers: Stiaan Louw