Swimwear fun with a vintage feel – proud trifft Jessica Krupa

von Michael Rothleutner

Täglich kommen immer mehr junge Designer nach Berlin – durch sie wird Berlin mehr und mehr zu dem pulsierenden und angesagten Modeschauplatz von dem die Welt berichtet. proud traf sich mit einer davon – Jessica Krupa, eine US- amerikanische Designerin mit Großstadtträumen. Ihre Kollektionen bestehen aus süßen und wirklich sexy Bikinis und Badeanzügen, die zugleich mit der Benutzung von shapewear auch noch praktisch sind. Die Fashionista erklärt uns, wie sie in Berlin landete und was ihr ­Unternehmen besonders und brauchbar macht.

With a name like JK Swimwear, it sounds like you might not be serious.

Like, ‘just kidding?’ Yeah, you’re not the first person to say that.

Is that true? Here I thought I found a clever way to open the interview.

I just didn’t think it was a good idea to use my full name for a new label. I’m just starting out; I’ll keep it simple with my initials JK for now.

You studied fashion design in New York at The Fashion Institute of Technology. What brought you to Berlin?

I got my first taste of Europe when I spent a year studying abroad in Florence. The program in Italy took us on a field trip to a tradeshow in Germany. And Berlin is great for indie and young designers, entrepreneurs… here you can start your own company and be respected for it. As a designer in the States you usually work for some preestablished label. There are really great support systems in Berlin for young artists like ‘Create Berlin’ and ‘The Senate for Economics, Technology and Women’s Issues.’ Plus, the leading trade and fashion shows, ‘Mercedes Benz Fashion Week’ and ‘Bread & Butter,’ are all here.

So are you digging the Berlin style?

Berlin fashion is surprisingly relaxed. You wear what you like. But I would actually say that New York and Berlin are actually more similar than different. Both cities are really diverse, you see all sorts of things depending on what neighborhood you’re in.

Growing up in New Jersey, is your life more ‘Project Runway’ or ‘The Jersey Shore?’

(Laughs) My life is more like ‘Project Runway,’ but I did spend most of my childhood summers running around in a swimsuit.

Is that what made you want to be a swimwear designer?

It developed more gradually; at FIT I studied womenswear and specialized in intimate apparel, which is similar to swimwear construction. In Florence I really learned swimwear design and tailoring techniques from professors that had worked with leading designers like Pucci. After graduation and working in the New York fashion industry for a couple years, I did a solo- backpacking trip through South America, where I saw locals designing, making and selling their handcrafted swimwear in small island boutiques. It was totally inspiring. They had the most beautiful and creative pieces I’d ever seen in my life. They were well-tailored, really cute, really fun… if they were being produced in New York, you would see them all over the world.

Your silhouettes and patterns in the collection have a definite 1950’s vibe. Is this an element of your personal style or something you were exploring this season?

For this collection I found my inspiration in a number of vintage photos from the picture gallery at New York Public Library, my favorite place in NYC. In swimwear and intimate apparel, retro and shapewear are really in right now. But what I really like about the ‘50s style is the quality and tailoring that was used back then. The details, fabric quality and tailoring of the pieces for my collection I would totally say are retro and yeah, these elements are definitely what I’d like to be known for.

So we can expect to see more of these playful, flirty details in your next collection as well, as sort of a signature?

Yeah, my next collection will be more Hollywood glamour… I’ll continue working with shapewear and retro, but prints will be replaced with more pleating and more construction details. Keeping it chic and trendy, like with some cute matching headbands.

You mentioned shapewear, what is it exactly?

Shapewear already has a large presence in the intimate apparel industry, and is designed to smooth out the imperfections of your body. Shapewear is not about making you look like a size two, but is used to smooth your body and accentuate what you’ve got.

Is shapewear something unique to your line?

In America, shapewear sales have already increased $89 million since 2009. But according to a recent article, almost half of the swimwear purchased is never worn because women feel too self-conscious to wear it, so we’re talking about millions of dollars wasted every year. The problem is that right now shapewear is concentrated almost entirely in the intimate apparel industry. No one has really worked the same concepts into swimwear. I’m filling that niche.

And where do you hang out in Berlin?

I’m totally falling in love with Charlottenburg. I actually live over there, I love the shops and wine bars everywhere, we have a great jazz bar right around the corner and I love seeing everyone dressed up to go out. But I work in Neukölln; I love the fact that there are more young designers heading over there. It’s a great scene with all the young entrepreneurs opening up their own shops in East Berlin, because it doesn’t require thousands of dollars to do it. I really like ‘SING BLACKBIRD Vintage Coffee & Clothes’ it is really cute boutique I check out on my lunch breaks.

JK Swimwear wird in Boutiquen, Kaufhäusern und in Online- Geschäften verkauft. Einkäufer, Investoren und Swimwear- Enthusiasten können derzeit die Kollektion online bei jkswimwear.com unter die Lupe nehmen.

Michael Rothleutner

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