PATH, revolutionise traditional notions of menswear one garment at a time from their Beijing studio. Meet Janine Grosche, Creative Director and Founder of the menswear label, who speaks to us about her Berlin fashion background, going with her instincts and the design process that goes into each intricate PATH garment.
What's your background? How did you get into fashion?
I studied fashion design at ESMOD Berlin International University of Art for Fashion and graduated in 2007. In my last year I focused on menswear design and created a collection that I was able to show during China Fashion Week in Beijing as part of the Hempel Award, who selected me amongst other great international designers to showcase my graduation collection.
What do you do on a typical week day?
I always start my day with a morning routine: meditation practice, a healthy drink, sometimes reading. Basically I’m saving this time for myself to have enough energy for the day, because the rest of the day is always unpredictable and I have to be flexible. Depending on where I am in a cycle of the collection, there are phases when I spend the entire time designing and focusing and during which I shut myself off so I don’t get distracted from the outside world. I like this time, as well as creating the patterns and working with my team on the samples, the most. It is always a very exciting time, although it is a lot more exhausting and there’s so much to organise which is even harder in China due to the cultural differences and language barrier. The next phase involves more time on the launch, promotion and marketing of the new collection. There never really is a typical week. I really like the variety of it all.
Which song is currently on heavy rotation in your studio? Which magazine is on your table?
Song: ‘Russian Ballerina’ by Chinawoman from 2007
Or actually the entire album ‘Party Girl’.
I stopped buying magazines, actually, mostly because the ones I would buy are not available in China. It is not possible to find independent magazines in print, besides the major [commercial] ones like Vogue China, Elle China or Harper’s Bazaar China, due to the lack of independent media and government restrictions. But it is possible to find more online and even i-D China has just launched a digital-only version. I tend to read more online since the content is available easily, just like Dazed Digital or AnOther Magazine, to name a few. I read a lot more books recently. At the moment I’m reading ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho.
How did you establish your brand PATH?
I started PATH in 2012 in Beijing by designing a small collection, selling to friends and like-minded individuals and promoting my work online. To be honest, it all started without a proper plan and simply came from the heart. I just did what I wanted to do and followed my guts and intuition. I realised shortly afterwards that the feedback was really good and it got attention from the media, so I continued designing more collections (although it was only one per year at the time) until I established the brand officially in 2014. Since then it’s been going well and PATH is steadily growing. There are times of ups and downs when I start to question myself. But I assume that everyone at some point in life is going through this stage. I learned how important it is to believe, trust and be persistent during the process and to not give up during hard times.
What do you love about fashion, in particular menswear?
PATH is all about pushing the borders of menswear further while creating a radically different aesthetic for men.
There is still so much room for challenging the boundaries of traditional menswear, by just using unusual fabrics, cuts, layers or incorporating new details.
You're a German designer working out in Beijing. Compared to Berlin, what's different in the fashion scene in Beijing? What's similar?
Although China’s fashion market is now well-established, the fashion scene is not yet comparable to that in Europe and it still needs time to grow. A lot of people consume the big brands — and that more than anywhere else in the world. China has a huge buying power. Although more and more independent labels have been established in the past few years (I’m sure there is already a shift going on from buying the big brands as at status symbol to getting more unique pieces from independent labels), it is still a long way to go until the majority has adopted a similar mindset. And that’s fine too. These things take time and can’t be rushed. It is scary yet fascinating to me how advanced and ahead of the time China is with its technology, that even western companies can learn from it. Things happen so fast here that sometimes I question if the mind can follow and adapt.
Who is the customer that wears your pieces?
The most important message PATH wants to communicate is: pride in individuality.
The look presented by PATH is both inspired by and designed for confident outsiders. It is for a niche market, not the masses. PATH targets men with a different mindset when it comes to menswear, with a different view on traditional gender roles and how men have to dress in order to be seen as men. PATH is for the rule breakers. PATH is for men who are confident in their own skin showing a new masculinity, free from the standard uniform. On top of that, I don’t necessarily think of the customers in categories such as age, race and gender. Instead, I think of them in terms of shared beliefs and values.
Could you talk us through the design process of your collection?
I always start by selecting fabrics and a specific colour scheme. This will give me the first direction I want to go in. I usually have an entire wall in my studio, which will later be transformed into a seasonal moodboard, where I put up images that inspire me. It’s currently filled with a lot of imagery of architecture, which always gives me a lot of ideas for shapes and construction of a garment. From there I start to design. The process is very interesting for me to observe, because I sometimes need to stop designing for a few days to focus on something totally different, just so I can go back to see what I have made with a little distance and perspective. If I’m still convinced of my designs after that, I go for it and start with the patterns. Even during that time, the design often gets improved and new ideas of construction come in. That’s why I do the pattern myself, which I think is crucial as no one else knows and understands the design idea better in order to transfer it into a fitting pattern.
What's next for PATH?
We are just in the final steps of the SS17 collection which will be launched in September. In China, the seasonal collections are usually presented around October and April, so we are excited to introduce the new collection soon. A collection book will come with it, similar to what we have done for SS16, with images of the campaign and lookbook and some additional behind the scene and mood imagery – photos that I usually take myself that inspire me. We hope to make more connections with physical stores in China and also worldwide, as well as finding more partnerships with online shops and platforms for SS17 to widen our network and community. We are also planning on new creative collaborations, and a new logo is in the making as well. We are excited for what this year and the next will bring!
Interview by Dora Mentzel for Kwaleö.
Meet Janine Grosche from Beijing
There are no products in this collection.