I had the opportunity of interviewing Julia Knüpfer of i.c.a. watermelon over the weekend. Calling from Berlin, Germany, Knüpfer discussed her eco-friendly brand and shared her views on fashion and the environment. Despite an unsure Skype connection and a semi-fuzzy cell phone, we managed to have a great conversation about the importance of sustainability and societal trends. 'i.c.a watermelon' stands for "I carried a watermelon"- a famous line from the movie Dirty Dancing. What started off as a simple movie quote as a brand name soon turned into a representation of how Knüpfer's brand carries the large image of green fashion.
Knüpfer had an interest in fashion ever since she was a child. At a young age, she began making clothes for herself. She originally started out as a psychology major, but soon realized that a more creative path was her true calling. During this time, she studied conventional fashions and decided that she wanted to take a different route. This gave rise to her strong interest in sustainable fashion. Knüpfer says that she is easily inspired by those around her and that her collection is inspired by her concern for humanity and its future. Knüpfer describes her collection as "extraordinary" where she doesn't rely on current trends, but opts for high quality long-lasting designs. Her collection uses a variety of techniques such as knitting and crocheting, which play into her eco-friendly scheme. Furthermore, she uses eco-friendly materials such as certified organic cotton, wool, and natural dyes. This can be attributed to the fact that Knüpfer is most passionate about animal rights. Knüpfer, who is also a vegetarian, always ensures that if she is to use materials like wool, the animals are fairly treated. She says that her designs are similar to her personal style where they both reflect her personality. She describes her personal style as "feminine, poetic, and artsy" where it offers a subtle storytelling aspect.
I noticed that on her website, it encourages people to be "greenagers". Knüpfer says that this term is a combination of 'green' and 'teenager', which represents how she believes that we are the new generation that should think about the future and pay special attention to caring for others. She hopes that this kind of thinking will act as a new criteria for lifestyles and for design. She views the current relationship between fashion and the environment as slowly growing where people are becoming more aware of sustainable fashion, but much encouragement is still needed. She also talks large corporations and how they should be able to produce green fashion since they have many resources (such as money) available to them. She is optimistic though where she hopes that in the future, it won't be necessary to be labeled a green designer if eco-friendly fashions is the norm.
I also asked her about how she thinks society views green fashion. She says that people are generally open-minded, but she finds that people would tend to choose aesthetic appeal over an eco-friendly garment. Eco-friendliness is seen as a bonus rather than a factor to take into consideration. She says that there are still many misconceptions about eco-fashion where people are not aware enough about its truths. She believes that people tend to think that eco-fashions are more expensive and/or unattractive. However, she says that this is not true. Green fashion comes in many different varieties of styles, so it's not necessary to compromise style and design to be green.
Knüpfer's intends to continue promoting the importance of green fashion and expanding her brand. If you're in Berlin, keep an eye out for the i.c.a. watermelon flagship store opening later this year! As my final question, I asked her how long it usually takes her to get ready in the morning. "20 minutes, but 2 hours to wake up!" I can completely relate.
Thank you to Julia Knüpfer of ica watermelon and Theresa Micallef of [FAT] for making this interview happen!
Be sure to check out ica watermelon at the Toronto Alternative Arts & Fashion Week on April 27 at 9 p.m!
Images via [FAT]'s Flickr