Jan-Jan Van Essche
There is a lovely global nomad vibe to Jan-Jan Van Essche’s collections, a sort of Buddhist minimalism, translated into a wonderfully wearable, moody men’s wear collection, totally effortless and somehow reflective in nature, and completely timeless. Investment and heritage dressing in its true sense, clothing that never goes out of style, that is not trend driven, but is instead a pure expression of personal style. The collection is not seasonal, with a single annual range produced each year, in a wonderful reversal of the fast fashion trend, where seasons are almost weekly with constant updates and fresh merchandise. The collection proposes adaptive layering instead of seasonal dressing, while blending influences from the four corners of the globe in subtle and indefinable ways, yet reminiscent of a desert landscape and nomadic tribal peoples.
The collection is produced in a limited series, with each item individually numbered. The color palette echoes the desert theme with discrete and de-saturated natural colorations and refined patterns. Van Essche’s unreserved voluminous and layered silhouettes invoke unrestrained freedom.
Van Essche is a graduate of the famed Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, and the winner of several grand prizes, including the prestigious Dries Van Noten award, for his 2003 graduate collection. His first collection, entitled Yukkuri, is Japanese for ‘taking it easy’, which epitomizes his philosophical approach to creating contemporary men’s wear fashion. Collections 2 and 3 build on his comfortable aesthetic, entitled ‘Satta Amassagana’ – ‘give thanks’ in Amharic, and ‘In Awe’; each with varying degrees of sharp cut volume and dimensional layers. The collection emphasizes the rich textures and subtle colorations of Van Essche’s fabric choices.
Not an eco designer in the true sense of the word, but a designer that focuses on limited quality production in predominately natural fibers. In a world of fast fashion and a constant turn over of the latest trend, heritage buying of quality designs, that express a deeply personal sense of style, not dictated by the fashion system, is perhaps one of the most ethical choices we can make as consumers. The collection is available in Van Essche’s native Antwerp, as well as Brussels, Rotterdam and online.