Talking Textiles, an interview with designer Barbara Weigand
An exclusive interview with Barbara Weigand, designer behind the luxurious and timeless brand, IOSOY. Weigand opens up about her story and the true inspiration behind her collections.
- Tell me a little bit about your background
I started painting at the age of 4, and later as teenager, I started to design dresses and was always knitting. After school, I realized I may not be able to support myself with art, so I then began to study textile and fabric design in Krefeld, which is well-known for its textile design program. Parallell to my freelance work as a fabric designer, I studied 3 years of fine art, where I really enjoyed painting and brought up my skills to their best.
Anyhow, I worked for ten years during 1990-2000 as a designer for a Swiss design agency, who sold the ideas/designs to fabric manufacturers in the hometextile sector. It was similar to painting, but in a repetitive pattern, with a different medium. I was quite successful in this field, but the industry changed as they moved towards more digital design. Due to this, I decided to start new. I then worked for the CEO of an art gallery, which is where I learned how to run a business. I was working directly with customers when I realized how I can connect art with clothing and I would visualize what these customers could wear. With artistic fabrics, we can make beautiful clothes.
- What is meaning behind Iosoy?
The name of my brand is I O S O Y, which means I am. When you flip it around, it becomes Yosoi, which is Japanese for beautiful clothes - a lot of my items are inspired by the Japanese style.
- The fabrics you use are very unique, where do you find/source the materials?
I am a textile designer, so where I’m coming from is the fabric. I love very special or unusual combinations and to support small manufacturers. The lace comes from northern France and Paris, as well as from Sophia Hallette, who makes lace for the Princess of Wales. I am a small-scale designer, who doesn’t need a lot of fabrics, but they love me and I only need a few meters so I can offer them here to my customers. I also use silk prints coming from Italy, north of Milano at Como Lake, while the plain silks come from Bologna. What I’m looking for are the manufacturers who are still doing fine fabrics, not the wholesalers. I’m also always looking for new combinations of silk and microfibers allowing for new textures, so that they are technical and modern but also traditional. For example, I have a skirt here that is silk, but they have used thermoprinting to give it a completely new texture and 3D-movement. My favorite fair is PREMIÈRE VISION in Paris, where I have found some very interesting fabrics from South Korea. They are traditional fabrics used in their traditional dresses called brocade, made of silk, lurex and microfibers.
- Would you say the fabrics are the main source of your inspiration?
Textiles and fabrics are a huge part of my inspiration. As soon as I can feel the fabric in my hands, I know what I want it to look like. I don’t need complicated cuts, because the fabric does the talking. I see how they flow and what they look in the light - then I know what I am going to design out of it.
- What makes your collections so unique?
The point is to keep the designs simple and to let the fabric shine, allowing you to wear it daily, in the evening or for special occasions. This is one of the key concepts for my collections. To be able to mix and match one of my silk skirts with a t-shirt and sneakers or transform it into evening wear with one of my lace tops and heels - a statement piece that you can wear all day, no matter the situation. This is what makes my collection very fun and interesting, as you don’t need as many clothes, making it a very sustainable option. No need to change your whole look for that fancy dinner later, it is made for however you want to use the piece in that moment. That is how my business-women customers use my pieces. They bring along their small carry-ons, pop in the skirt and wear it all day, as different looks. One skirt could even turn into three evening gowns with the right top. A lot of my items are also reversible, allowing for two ways to wear the piece, again encouraging sustainability. Of course, there is also my use of new and unusual materials, where I have one piece from my collection that is a jersey but also a pure linen as well as a piece made out of paper materials and microfibers.
- Tell us more about the idea behind your collections
It was in 2008 that I came up with the idea to design a collection, first being made-to-measure and later, including a casual wear line in a small production run. I wanted the pieces to be timeless, where you could combine tops and bottoms from all of the different collections. So, even a collection that is three years old, can still work with pieces from the current collection. I love to see my customers walk in with pieces from years ago combined with a piece from my current collection. I want my customers to become the designer again, so I am the designer on the first level, but they take over from there, combining and mixing and matching it with whatever they like. I love that they can take a piece and create their entirely own versatile look. From my fine art studies, I also understand the concept of the golden cut, so that my made-to-measure pieces can be perfectly created to support the figure, because I really want to make sure the piece fits to the body perfectly.