AR: please let us know what Conni Kaminski is about and what’s your main focus in design.
CK: Conni Kaminski is a sustainable label with a production 100% made and Belgium. I launched the brand with my partner 15 years ago, and it was important for us to create a brand which has certain values. We focus on a special way of designing which is contemporary, modern but also timeless.
After working for many years in retail, what wasn’t my real passion, I have chosen an artistic path. It made me happy and I started to create my own little universe. I made first designs at home when I was still working full time. In the beginning I had worked only on artistic projects and after some time I started getting into a fashion scene of Brussels. I had exhibitions and fashion shows with no commercial interest at that time.
I started with the technique of deconstruction, what mean that I took some second hand clothes and created unique designs. It was not commercial at all and made for fun. My friends started to buy my designs, I got interest at a fashion fair in Paris, and I had my first fashion show and exhibition in Brussels. I started working 3 days per week next to my normal job to prepare the first collection of 20 pieces. In the first season we got to 6 orders from Belgium multibrand stores and it was the real start.
Since then we went with our collection to Paris to fashion fairs and also Berlin with other designers.
We found a very good supplier in Brussels, and also in Flanders for our knitwear collection. Over the years we have built a network of suppliers and a distributor, so we have a team which I can count on.
In addition, I always work with environmental issues in mind. Today, with all the mass production, so many clothes they get destroyed as they hadn’t been sold. Fashion is a really very poisonous market. For me is really important to have small series and which last longer. In addition have collections from which one can add a little peace to a wardrobe every season. Nowadays people got more aware of what they buy, how the clothes are made and where they come from.
AR: You are originally from Germany how did it happen that you are in Brussels?
My friend, with whom I worked with in Hamburg, moved to Brussels. First I was a bit scared to leave Germany but I wanted to get experience of work in a foreign country. I was offered an internship as a fashion designer, but couldn’t afford to live for 6 months without a salary. So, I had a job which I did not really liked and this was a reason why I became independent.
AR: What do you like most about our city?
I fell in love with Brussels. I like so much the flea market area of Les Marolles- Place jeu de balle
I also love interior design, it is my second passion, so I like to go on Sundays to rue Haute and Rue Blaes to antique shops and really old buildings from the 19th century. It’s a bit like time stood still and it feels like a holiday to wander around with all the tourists.
I lived in Ixelles for 16 years and now we have moved to Laken, to the North of Brussels. I didn’t know this area at all. I discover it bit by bit and I like it so much because there’s a lot of green areas. I also like to go with my bike near the canal and MiMA museum. I will definitively stay in Brussels, I have created my life here and I feel complete.
AR: So what are the plans for you for the future?
For the moment I’m so happy to have my shop and I am able to balance our personal life and work life. My boutique is close to the pedestrian area, which is being renovated. There will be a lot of trees and green places on my street, which will be a pedestrian zone too. With my neighbor shop owners we try to make this area really nice.
I also have a new project for next winter. I will include vintage clothes in my collection to have a bit of up-cycling mix. It will look really interesting. It feels like with this I’m going back where I come from, which is the deconstructing.
AR: What are the things in fashion that you would recommend to everyone?
I would advise people to wear things which you feel good in. I always say this to my clients, that there are things in the collection that don’t suit everybody. A piece may be really nice, but it may be not suitable for this person. I find it very important for a customer to take time to choose carefully.
Buy clothes which come from a good background. Don’t go for fast fashion, very cheap industry shops which have a new collection every month. It’s so cheap that you know it’s almost impossible to produce it in an eco-friendly and fair way. Take some time to make your choice and keep your clothes longer.
Visit Conni at her shop at Rue du Marché au Charbon 102, 1000 Bruxelles or www.connikaminski.com