Berlin-based Starstyling is without a doubt one of the most coveted on the Tokyo fashion scene, we have seen them on this site via Wut Berlin’s bi-annual fashion shows (last one here), and odds on you will have spied their work on the street of Tokyo before, or else by proxy online, especially given that wearing anything from this brand multiplies your odds of getting snapped infinitesimally. That connection to the street strata does not necessarily encompass all that the brand does in the context of the Berlin fashion scene, but it is the side that they were keen to push in Japan thanks to the “Hologhost” project you see below, where a little chunk of the Starstyling world is taken for a stroll through the very streets of Tokyo, catching people off guard with its reality glitching aura.
This also marked the 10 year anniversary of the brand, and given their enormous influence on the Tokyo underground, we were keen to catch up with them at this juncture and talk fashion with the husband and wife design partnership, Kai Seifried and Katja Schlegel, as the drinks flowed.
TT: Looking back over the 10 years of Starstyling, what was your initial brand concept and has that changed?
Katja: When we started there was no concept at all, we really just fell into it while we were working as stylists.
Kai: We started making our own clothes for ourselves, but people kept coming up to us and asking us where we got them from, so we responded to that on a really small scale. After 2 or 3 years of that we realized we had a brand without intending to!
Katja: We still think like that now, it has always been a really personal brand. Everything is made in-house, we don’t think about the mass market, actually, I work better when I am not think about the consumer at all. Then if what we make appeals to someone on a personal level, that is a truly natural fit.
Kai: It comes down to a short sentence “love it or leave it”. We have always lived by that and still do.
TT: But how do you avoid thinking about the consumer in the digital age?
Kai: That is always a fight for us, the decision about how much to interact is almost a fight.
Katja: It can be good at times to be made aware that maybe customers in Asia need different lengths and cuts, but we have to work hard to not let that effect the actual design process.
TT: So when did your brand actually become “Starstyling”?
Kai: It actually came from a pizza box, we were being pushed to come up with a name by a buyer who wanted to have our work in his shop and we didn’t have a logo or name for him. We just looked around the room and there was a box from “Star Pizza”, so we added our previous job title to it and went with that! 10 minutes later we had worked out a logo and branding, and that was that. At first people always used to think we were hairdressers based on the name, they would come into our shop that obviously sold clothes and ask for a haircut – very odd. Now we do get actual stars coming in like Bjork, but that was never our intention, the irony is a happy coincidence. It was very organic like everything we do. Our son ended up being our model, but that again was not deliberate it just fell into place.
TT: Next season your concept is “Fuck Minimalism”, is that your manifesto as a brand?
Kai: It was actually from a buyer complaining about every designer feeding off the same colors, cuts and shapes as fashion becomes more minimal. He said “fuck minimalism” and that just got stuck in our heads and a couple of weeks later it was clear that was going to be our new concept. We worked with silk and hundreds upon hundreds of dots that already is quite busy, then you turn out the lights and then the dots glow in the dark and it is really intense.
TT: What are you doing while you are in Tokyo?
Katja: We are going to be going on a “Hologhost” walk, a character that walks the street in a holographic sheet with accompanying music. It is very surreal and an extension of how we want to challenge people with our clothes. We have tried it in a couple of cities around the world and the reaction is always really different. The name was unintentional, and you can read what you like into it.
TT: What do you think of Japanese fashion?
Kai: I love how in Tokyo everyone is constantly reinterpreting ideas so you don’t know what is original as such, because that doesn’t matter as long as ideas are moving. You don’t know what is cheap and what is high class, and you see such a range in just 10 minutes that you would not see anywhere else in the world.
Katja: I am not sure I understand kawaii fashion, which is what I seem to be seeing most of right now. Especially the haberdashery rags style. Maybe it is a cultural difference of sexuality – sometimes it almost shocks me, but I think it is always good to be challenged.
TT: So what do you think the main difference between Berlin and Tokyo fashion is?
Katja: In general German fashion is very boring, people do not try, but in Japan everyone tries. It makes Tokyo feel more experimental. In Berlin the “in crowd” ignores us because we are “un-German” because we try. The press don’t know if we are art of fashion because we don’t fit into the scene perfectly, but the public always reacts to us positively.
Kai: That is not to say Tokyo is perfect, you can try too hard, and you have to know when to stop! For us coming to Japan and feeling that sense of difference is very exciting.
TT: Finally, what do you want to take on in the next 10 years of Starstyling?
Katja: I would like to try a perfume, I think it could be quite intense!
As part of their 10th Anniverssary celebrations the entire Wut Berlin shop space was given a Starstyling makeover, transforming into a glittering wonderland at first glance, but one packed with grim subversive imagery the closer you look.
The shop was positively packed with archive and limited edition pieces, as well as fans to eager to snap them up. This brand is kept seasonally by Wut Berlin, so if you are on the hunt in the city this should be your first stop.
Here you can see the darker side of the Starstyling world.
The white shoes above hide a very cool secret as below:
There were plenty of rare items for the serious fans, although that is no prerequisite for dressing a baby in the above!
Following on from the 10th anniversary proceedings at Wut Berlin the designers took to the street in their alternative digital ghost personas.
Occasionally funny, occasionally more than a little disturbing.
Just in case we make it to the end without seeing a single picture of Starstyling worn proper, lets end with some classic shots from past season, as modeled by the designers’ own son.