PARIS — You’ve heard of the duffle, the hooded toggle-buttoned coat named after the town in Flanders, Belgium, where it was created, and made from duffle cloth. But what about the Kassl, a new workwear-inspired jacket with its own provenance-based moniker conceived by a well-connected Amsterdam- and Antwerp-based collective?
Behind the project are Ilse Cornelissens and Tim Van Geloven, cofounders of the conscious-luxe Antwerp-based concept store Graanmarkt13; Christian Salez, former chief executive officer of Delvaux, and Bart Ramakers and Charlotte Schreuder of Parrot, an Amsterdam-based independent fashion agency that has worked on the launches of brands including Vetements and Halpern.
Designing the mono-product collection is Camille Serra, a former designer of the MM6 Maison Margiela line and creative director of Joseph, and handling the visual side are Gijsje Ribbens, a former fashion editor at Vogue Netherlands, and Dutch graphic designer and art director Merel van den Berg. Also part of the team is respected Belgian scenographer Bob Verhelst, who will design all the in-store presentations as well as provide graphics to be used on some of the coats.
Based on a vintage Dutch fisherman’s raincoat that Ramakers spotted on a female friend in New York, the Kassl coat is manufactured by a family-owned outerwear specialist based in Kassel, Germany, which produces the jackets for the Dutch police force and the German fire brigade.
“I remember driving to Kassel, and we were discussing what kind of coat we were actually making, what we could call it: It’s not a raincoat. It’s not a trench. It’s not a duffle coat…let’s call it a Kassl coat,” said Cornelissens, who with all her retail experience sees the unisex coat, with its distinctive oversize shape, technical fabrics and lightness, as a new proposition for the outerwear category.
Serra’s role is to dream up new editions of the coat each season, tinkering with the volumes, fabrics, colors and lengths, all the while retaining the attitude of the original heritage workwear garment.
Details include pierced buttonholes with metal rings, glued and taped Mackintosh seams, and functional die-cut circular back vents. Sizes go from extra small to extra large, with prices starting at 900 euros and stopping at around $3,500 for a limited-edition version in crackled silver and gold with a shearling lining made from Chanel deadstock. Each coat is number stamped, and the main fabric is supplied by Italian textile house Limonta.
Key styles for the brand’s first two editions, with its second collection hitting stores this month, include the signature Kassl in a leathery oil-coated cotton canvas, nodding to the authentic utility fabric used on fisherman’s coats; lacquered styles in a range of colors and a superlong trench version in a shade of pink inspired by German contemporary artist Isa Genzken. Certain models come cinched with rope belts.
In its first season, the label was picked up by retailers including Barneys New York, Browns and Lane Crawford.
With their respective experience in the industry, each of the members of the collective brings to the table a different point of view.
“We have been in business for almost 10 years now, and what we’ve learned on the road is that you can only manage a project by doing things with the right people,” Cornelissens said. “For me, Kassl is really a project bringing together an interesting team with the [collective aim] of doing something just around that one shape, that one attitude of a coat.”