Streetwear pieces with unique features that capture the essence of multiculturalism are on the rise, especially in The Netherlands. Founded in 2015, Salt & Lemon co-founders Sérgio Macanji and Andy Au have expanded on multicultural fashion concepts rooted in their hometown Rotterdam to now expressing the beauty of various cultures around the world by combining elements of different cultures with modern fashion prints and fabrics. With their fourth seasonal collection on the way, we wanted to recap with the Salt & Lemon team on the inspiration behind their previous seasonal collections.
Salt & Lemon Team: Co-founders - Sérgio Macanji and Andy Au, and Art Director/Mode Designer - Olimpia Reszka.
Jonathan Mckinnon: Why the brand name Salt & Lemon?
Salt & Lemon Team: The name Salt & Lemon was chosen due to the characteristics of both respective ingredients. When we started, we saw too many fashion brands with black and white designs, so our brand name is the reflection of that difference. Lemon stands for the bright colors and strong taste we wanted to implement in our brand, and salt stands for the purity of the brand and its inclusion of black and white.
How has The Netherlands taken to the brand thus far?
We have received much support from the Dutch crowd, especially from our hometown Rotterdam. Our brand's presence abroad is getting stronger and stronger in other European countries as well.
Are there specific manufacturing qualities sought after by Salt & Lemon when comparing fabrics used for the design process?
It really depends on the designs we are producing. In every collection there are certain looks and feelings we want to implement in the designs. That is why the use of specific fabrics are very important. Before we choose a certain fabric, we visit many manufacturers, so that we are sure about the quality of the fabrics used for production.
Describe the selection process of choosing a new culture to feature through Salt & Lemon clothing.
We analyze a lot of cultures and trends before we choose a certain culture or country. Sometimes we choose a culture because of the inspiration we have gotten from trips, but most of the time there are profound reasons. The most recent collection we released was based on North Korea. The country has been chosen as the inspiration because of the constantly alarming news in the media about North Korea. We want to show a different perspective on the country through our SS17 collection by integrating its cultural aspects in the designs. Therefore, we chose the country rather than its regime as the inspiration.
What is Salt & Lemon’s interpretation of culture love, and how was it integrated into the SS17 collection?
Culture love is a statement we wanted to implement in our North Korean designs because of the hate many people have for the country. We are trying to promote the beautiful culture North Korea possesses as well as our own “unity philosophy we briefly talked about’’. We are not attempting to promote the North Korean regime in this collection (far from it). Every culture has things we like and dislike. We need to respect other peoples culture and learn from it. Take the good lessons you learn from a culture and transfer it to your own. Love other cultures as you love your own. Unite, appreciate each other and make our world a better world to live in.
How did Salt & Lemon source North Korean cultural references used in the SS17 collection?
We have spent a lot of time researching the country. We researched the history, politics and also the cultural behaviors. We used old documents, new documents, pictures, illustrations and books, etcetera.
Was the SS17 collection popular among streetwear enthusiasts in Asia?
The opinions and reactions on the collection were positive, but also shocking for some. Most of the people had never expected North Korea to be an inspiration for a collection. There were South- Korean people who felt insulted at first, but after they knew what the reason was behind the collection, they did not feel that way anymore. People were the most enthusiastic about this collection amongst the others thus far.
Salt & Lemon's rendition of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) flag and use of cultural refrences has a clean astheitic. Is the collection a statement against capitalism, and what does unity/enlightenment mean to the brand?
In the Russian collection, as every other collection, we wanted to show the beauty of the country and/or culture. We do not have a political statement, but we understand the question, because of the communistic symbol we have used in one of our designs. We wanted to use the symbol, because communism has played a big role in Russian history and culture. There is no statement or message we wanted to share through that design. Through our collections, we just want to show everybody the beauty of the cultures which we posses in our world.
Unity means everything to us, it is practically our brand philosophy. Discrimination is still very active all over the world. We want to reduce it as much as possible. We would like to unite everybody, no matter the country, skin or religion.
Name three Russian cities that have the best men's street style.
Moscow, as it is the gathering of everyone for fashion week. We also love the style of St. Petersburg (St.Petersburg is definitely upcoming. Moscow feels like the Amsterdam of Russia and St.Petersburg more as the Rotterdam of Russia). We also really enjoy the style of Irkutsk.
Genghis Khan is well-known for ruling the largest contiguous land empire in history. What other attributes of his inspired Salt & Lemon to display a portrait of him paired with Russian writing on the back of a windbreaker?
The Genghis khan windbreaker is part of the East Asia collection. That is why we also used Mongolia as inspiration. The Russian writing below the portrait means “Genghis Khan’’. We wanted to portray someone of power in our collection and also wanted to show the pride of the Mongolian people in a good way. That is why we chose to portray Genghis Khan, one of the biggest conquerors ever, so the windbreaker consists of a portrait of Genghis Khan and his name.
Soweto is a township of the city of Johannesburg in Gauteng, South Africa with a history of gold in the late 19th century, apartheid during the late 20th century, and currently a vibrant urban area. What pieces of Soweto's history are highlighted through the African fabrics and graphics used on the "African Soweto Denim Jacket?"
The denim jacket is called the "African Soweto Denim Jacket" because of what it symbolizes. Soweto was once a place where you did not want to be at (that is why the jacket is ripped at the back), but underneath the destruction you will find a beautiful and vibrant core.
Were there other South African cities of interest during the initial stages of sourcing of cultures.
Yes, the cities Durban and Pretoria. Both of the places are thriving and beautiful. We also made a dress based on Zambezia, the province of Mozambique.
What can we expect from Salt & Lemon this FW17?
You can expect something S&L has never done before and also something as far as we know is never done before by another brand.
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An explorer of men's fashion with inquisitive eyes, born and raised in Lakeview, Long Island. My inspiration comes from nature, city streets and the world wide web.
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