They remind you that this is an exciting city with a steadfast spirit of renewal – a place of where change is possible. No surprise then that the studio of designer Monique van Heist is located in this very city. We decided to pay her a visit on a rather warm summer day.
One of our questions is answered as soon as Monique appears in the doorway: yessir, of course she wears her own design, at the very least one article every day. We must say that skirt Linda does indeed combine very well with a vintage, sleeveless T-shirt and some flip-flops. Quality casual! Once inside, the atmosphere is nothing but laid-back; flip-flops are dropped and glasses of water are filled.
Monique van Heist (1972) was born in Haarsteeg, a town in the province of Brabant. That she was destined to work in the fashion-industry was quickly apparent. At the young age of 8 she already knew her way around the sewing machine and even then she wore her own creations (talk about confident). Following her studies at the academy for the visual arts in Enschede she successfully completed Fashion Design at ArtEZ (Academy of Art and Design).
While her love for fashion has only grown, so has her dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the fashion industry. Van Heist believes the life span of trends is needlessly short and accuses the industry of elitist pretentiousness. In spirit of the motto be the change you want to see in the world, she decides to start the Hello Fashion project in 2009. Goal: creating a continuous collection composed of mostly basic patterns to which new designs can be constantly added. It is a great success; barely any of the initial designs have yet to retire.
She has said she does not design for one, specific target audience; what’s important is creating the ideal fit. Designs like the Monique van Heist leggings (by now a classic) and coat Don have since their original release appeared in a variety of colours and fabrics. You want to keep things fresh, but great designs will always be great designs. According to Van Heist, it’s necessary to keep experimenting with fabrics and materials in order to give your designs character. This way, every piece of clothing manages to be highly personal and has the capacity of surprising variety.
Recently a group of sixty clothing companies agreed on guidelines to stimulate honestly produced clothing. When we ask her opinion about this, she readily replies: “What a nonsense. I’m sorry to say that sustainability is more than a sewn-in label of good behaviour.” Van Heist herself chooses high-grade (preferably organic) fabrics and produces every collection on a small scale in Europe. Any waste is sold or donated to an art academy – she doesn’t need any guidelines.
At this point our interview has become a casual conversation that probably could’ve gone on for hours. However, Monique has more to do that day. So we decide to conclude with asking her about her plans for the future and her possible ambitions. She chuckles and replies smiling: “Designing the perfect underwear?”