Swept away from cold Greenland onto the hectic streets of Copenhagen, BIBI CHEMNITZ, self-taught fashion designer slash entrepreneur originally from Nuuk is a proud ambassador of Greenland and Scandinavian style. Bibi mixes her precise clean cuts with elements from the Greenlandic/Inuit culture.
In her designs black predominates, yet she never forgets to contrast black with white combining it with color or graphic prints. Her charm lies in a perfect balance between elegant silhouettes and sporty, leisure cuts. In 2014 Bibi opened her online shop in WeAreSelecters Stores, and this is her first interview with us, … on her life, passions, influences and fashion.
To begin, tell us something about yourself that is surprising, and that no one would ever guess…
I'm addicted to oranges and sparkling water, like I gotta have these things everyday.
Bibi Chemnitz SS15 'Lost in Navigation' shot by Polina Vinogradova
As a self taught designer, how did you start to create? What was the impulse?
I moved a around a lot as a child in Greenland, I got the chance to see several cities in this giant country. When you move around a lot as a child you sometimes find yourself depending a lot on yourself as your best friend, since Greenland is about the same size as Western Europa and there are no roads, it’s very difficult to stay in touch with old friends - remember I was a child of a pre internet/cellphone time. As your own best friend, you often use your imagination as an escape, and this was, I think the start of my creative thoughts. The impulses now to create are always there, with my underneath the surface and when I have my creative processes I let them burst out.
Have you ever thought about what you missed out of school? And have you taken up any courses?
School was never for me, never liked it. I also moved from one country to another when I was a teenager, I had to start to speak a new language and that didn't help out in school. For sure there are many things you can learn from school but for me it was not the road to take, so instead of going to school 3-4 years longer I started my company when I was around 21 or so. I have not taken up any courses, I work close with my partner David and we learn from each other.
Implementing sport or athletic elements is a huge trend right now, what do you think is most differentiating/unique in your designs?
This element has always been key in my brand and design, and my brand is almost 10 years old so for me this is natural. I really do not follow trends, but I notice that 80% of new brands try to have a sporty/street men's wear style - but I think I can see who has an authentic look and who just tries to go with the flow. I’m not 100% alone designing in this brand, again my partner David has been into basketball, hiphop etc. for close to 25 years, so he has a huge background knowledge about this. I think what differentiates BIBI CHEMNITZ from most is that we are authentic in our sporty/street look and the how we mix the Greenlandic elements into this. Greenland is a VERY unique place - it's one of a kind and unknown to most people.
Bibi Chemnitz and David Røgilds
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from all around me, but 2 things have the biggest influence: 1. The nature, culture and people of Greenland, 2. The urban life of Copenhagen where I live and work. But really I get inspiration from everywhere.
Greenland landscape by Annie Busk
Graphic design seems like an essential part of your designs, is this something you are passionate about?
Graphics are very important to BIBI CHEMNITZ as a brand, it's a good way to show ideas, feelings etc. BIBI CHEMNITZ’s graphics are done between David and I, he is much better working with the right tools for this - but we have similar tastes in what we like.
The graphics in BIBI CHEMNITZ we try to keep them simple and not over complicate things, its much more about substance and idea than an amount of elements in the design.
This goes well with the idea of the overall design of the brand where we work in the same way. We try to have a key element to use as a fixed point in the graphics and that fixed point is Greenland in some way, shape, form or idea. If you look at the graphic works from several collections you can see what we mean.
What about your design process? Can you give us an insight of how it commences?
The design process is always going on - its never ending! But I get more and more creative the close I get to the deadlines we work with, so often when we design a collection things start out really really slow. Most people might think that we do nothing, but we are playing around with ideas until it all somehow makes sense and then we explode with a lot of ideas. And finally we have to do a selection and drop some designs or put them aside for the future.
Has anything changed throughout the years when it comes to your creative process?
When I first started, it was more hands on and not so much about doing collections - it was more about the single piece. Now I try to think about a collection look - but I think I work very much the same. I might have to work more intense in the last creative process because I use more and more time traveling and running the company, we are still a very small company so I have to do much more than just designing.
What do you think about Denmark’s fashion scene?
In Denmark sometimes it feels like everybody is a designer, there is a huge culture of working with design in some way or form.
On the other hand, what do you think Denmark is missing out?
Denmark for one thing is missing out on amazing nature. In Greenland people also seem to have more time to reflect and are not so stressed, this is a thing that I think is missing in most modern countries.
Would you ever think of moving somewhere else? Like Asia?
I love to travel, we travel a lot. I really haven't been to Asia, but would love to visit Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and more. I think the design aesthetics of many places in Asia is very similar to what we have in Denmark. But at the end I think the time difference and distance to my family in Greenland would be too much. But never say never - who knows.
North of Greenland, a passenger boat almost 1 mile in front of the Masive Eqi glacier wall. Courtesy of Greenland.
Would you like to experiment with more unisex cuts and silhouettes in the future?
It's already such a big part of BIBI CHEMNITZ so I don't know if it will become a even bigger part. The unisex cuts will always be an important feature in my designs, and mostly it's the masculine look that I go after, making my women’s collections a bit masculine.
You play with contrasts a lot, Scandinavian, minimalistic and full black, which seams to be a trend right now, what would you add to it if you could?
I only wear black clothes, I try to make clothes that I myself love, therefore we have a lot of black in the designs. When we work with color, prints or patterns we try to think about sets - like matching tops and matching bottoms. I love this way of matching things, it gives the design a uniform look which fits my minimalistic design. But Scandinavia has always been about simplicity and minimalism and I don't think this is something that will change, that is why I love living in Copenhagen where these designs and buildings are all around me.
Tell us 3 things that you are missing from fashion right now…
First, that more individual designers who dare to start up by themselves - no investors just them. Secondly, Designers/brands staying true to their own style and not just following trends. And third, Less power to bloggers.
Nuuk at nigth, Greenland by Zinni. Where Bibi is from and the place she and David stay when visiting.
BIBI CHEMNITZ SS15 - Lookbook Shoot