Christina Seewald is a young, emerging fashion brand on the rise. The Vienna-based knitwear label always finds innovative ways to incorporate and work with the craftsmanships of knitting and crocheting.
After graduating from the career forge Central Saint Martins in Textile-Design, Christina established her namesake brand. Known for her sensual knit pieces, patchwork designs and the personal hand-written logo, she already created some buzz on Instagram. Now, the young designer made room within her brand for a bigger team, sharing the light with Lisa Knoll and Tamina Katz.
The three worked together on the new Christina Seewald Spring/Summer 2022 collection which they just released together with a video presentation. Christina Seewald’s pieces are usually seasonless as well as genderless, just like this time. The Spring/Summer collection features a combination of different textures, mixing heavy and fine knits with silk elements. Playing with sheerness, loose stitches, and cut outs, a sensuality is created, very distinctive for Christina Seewald. The team spoke to Numéro Berlin about the new collection to give even more insights into their small but growing label.
Thinking of Christina Seewald, pure white knitwear comes into my mind immediately. Now you gave some insights into the upcoming collection teasing with dark-blue images on Instagram. What do you associate with this color?
Christina: The SS22 Collection includes a range of blues. From royal to midnight blue, it’s part of the knitted pieces and crochet accessories. Blue is a color that symbolizes fundamental transactions, something that also Lynch refers to in Mulholland Drive or Blue Velvet.
It is a bridge to connect reality and dream, the private, intimate and public, which is also part of our video. Especially with these fundamental states of mind, we wanted to play in this collection.
Lisa: A big aspect of the collection was the opposition of the social and the personal ego. The contrast of the soft white and the strong navy blue resembles that contrast. The white and blue styles often have a similar structure, they just differ in their hues and how you perceive them at first glance.
Tamina: Our basic collection always focuses on mainly white pieces, some black pieces. Simplicity is the key for all our projects though, so even if we incorporate more colors, our collection will always be focused on simplicity and minimalism.
You now made some big changes within your team, not only focusing on you, Christina, anymore, but also on the roles of Lisa Knoll and Tamina Katz. What are each of your specific roles within the label?
Christina: I founded this brand in 2019 after graduating from Central Saint Martins. It is a lot of responsibility as a young Entrepreneur to get it all done by myself, primarily because it’s not just design anymore. Luckily I built a team that I can rely on so much and am extremely happy to work with. It is so important to have an excellent team and to be able to delegate things to these two special people. My heart lies in knitwear development, design and craftsmanship that I always want to include in each collection.
Lisa: I studied Fashion Design in Shanghai when Covid started. I was planning on returning to Vienna for a while, and wanted to do an internship in the meantime. I started at Christinas and stayed there ever since, because it worked out so well between us. I am head of menswear since the AW21/22 collection, managing the production with our factories and producers, but of course also doing studio tasks. We’re a small team so the tasks often blend between the three of us.
Tamina: I came here as an intern one year ago and been here since then. I mainly focus on the production, pattern cutting and sampling in the studio, but also on press and styling inquiries. I think all of us work in many different areas and it’s hard to really limit yourself to only one specific task.
Are there even more changes that come with the new collection?
Christina: We focused on fully fashioned knitwear to a greater extend. Inspired by my BA Collection, which I created at Central Saint Martins, we developed these techniques further for SS22. My highlight in this collection are the knitted scarves, which are so versatile to style. It’s a piece of clothing that is elegant, timeless and super easy for everyone to wear.
Lisa: It only started with a few added menswear pieces in the last collection, so I am quite happy that we expanded the menswear with this season, so we almost have as much menswear looks as womenswear now. Although we’re not strictly differentiating between menswear and womenswear, it’s more like an expanded range of pieces that are obviously not limited to a certain gender.
Tamina: You can see all of our different inputs, ideas and personalities represented in the collection. Also, we focused on the presentation of the collection not only as a “show-off” of the clothing, but also a story and concept behind it. The video is not only a representation of the clothing, but also of the socially critical topic behind it.
Christina, you base your designs on social conflicts, for example your master’s collection was inspired by the shape of the Shewee, a tool for women to simplify peeing in public. Was there a specific object that inspired the new collection?
Christina: A blue box, an object that leaves a bit of a mystery…. longing for something, finding something.
Almost like not knowing what you are looking for, a state of mind reflects the social system.
What is private, and what becomes public?
Who are we, and what are the expectations we carry out within our society?
What does being a woman and embracing femininity mean to you?
Lisa: I think you can also embrace femininity without being a woman, it’s not necessarily linked to a gender. For me it’s all about gaining my confidence out of traits that are still demeaned as weakness. Being vulnerable, being open about my emotions and being sensitive are aspects that are giving me strength and what I also expect from my companions.
Tamina: For me, being a woman means being exactly who I want to be, without the thought of what others think about me. It means that I can work exactly as hard and be exactly as good as any other person.
Which new ways of working with knitwear do you want to explore in the future?
Christina: We want to start developing more products, such as shoes and bags. Furthermore, I am trying to find a material that sustainably replaces wool. It is also a personal approach as I am allergic to wool myself, and facing these consequences, I want to accomplish a small line that provides wool-free garments with the same quality of touch.
How long does the sampling process take with creating knitwear?
Christina: It’s a back and forth. Mainly because the sampling needs to be done with the final material, as each yarn behaves differently.
Lisa: Yes, you should sample right from the beginning with the yarn that will later make the garment, since every yarn behaves completely different. Which knitting technique you choose will also completely alter the outcome. So we tend to try different techniques and then see what works the best on the body.
Tamina: The sampling process in tailoring and knitwear is completely different. I had to learn many new things about it, coming from a tailoring school. You can’t really rely as much on patterns in knitwear, you have to focus more on the knit and the material itself.
From showing at London Fashion week after finishing your master’s to the Virtual Show during the pandemic, you explored different ways of presenting new collections. You now produced another video, what are your favorite aspects of presenting fashion virtually?
Christina: What I love about the Virtual Show is that it is available to everyone, no matter where or who it is. It is not tailored anymore to a specific target.
Lisa: I feel like presenting virtual is much more low-threshold than staging a real life show. It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are, you can still see our collection presented in a way, that tells the story and the emotions of the pieces from our personal perspective. We want to evoke a certain mood with the garments, and for the SS22 collection we wanted to deliver a feeling of obscurity and melancholia, which i think worked out so well through the video.
Is it your goal to go back to staging a real life fashion show, or do you want to keep the virtual way for now?
Christina: In the future, we are planning a physical show again. The virtual show is a good option in this pandemic; but for me personally, it is not the same.
I am a tactile person, and I think, especially with all the fine knit, it makes a massive difference to see it in real life – the connection between knitwear and the body within the movement that is created.
Tamina: I think all of us are really happy with what we produced this season, the collection and also the video. But in my opinion, a real life event is something really special in ways of human interaction and vibrations. You can see the immediate reaction of a Person watching the clothing, and you dont only rely on likes or comments.
You are presenting the collection now during the super busy fashion month – did you choose this date with the opportunity in mind to gain more attraction as a smaller label, or is there maybe a risk that you might perhaps vanish among big names in Milan and Paris?
Christina: Usually, I am choosing a different period, but we are now pending on the fashion calendar as we also work on wholesale basis and there is still a schedule we need to adapt to somehow.
Tamina: It is kind of a risk to vanish among the big ones, but I think this is a risk you always have to take as a small brand. Either you speak up, show your collection not really thinking about the risks you take, or you don’t show at all. If you show unique designs with a meaning and a message behind it, you’ll always stand for yourself – even if your designs get copied afterwards.
How important is it for emerging brands to participate in the traditional fashion calendar?
Christina: I wish it would be easier for young emerging brands to escape from it. The cash flow is complex for a starting brand. This system should slow down, giving us designers the chance to develop pieces more sustainably and economically that our customers and we can profit from.
Tamina: I think it really is hard not to participate and break the old system, because you can’t just think for yourself as a brand, but also have to rely on buyers, press and everything fashion brings with it.
Lisa: We certainly are re-thinking ways of presenting our collection. We are planning on having small capsule collections throughout the year with only a few pieces. And we’re focussing more on a made-to-order system for our own online shop. Every piece is made for a costumer, that means from our side there is no overproduction. For the costumers it means that they’ll might have to wait a little longer for their piece than usual, but i think you’ll regain a sense of value for your clothing in that way.