G-LAB, THE JACKETS FOR SEASONS WHICH CAN’T MAKE UP THEIR MINDS
Björn Gericke, the founder of g-lab on designing functional fashion
It should be summer now, but except for the odd sunny days, we seem to be stuck in a seasonal limbo. Is it sweater season, raincoat weather, or just straight up the return of the winter coat? Dilemmas you won’t face if you have a piece from the following brand: g-lab, the jackets for seasons which can’t make up their minds.
g-lab has comfortably conquered a space between function and fashion, with supremely weather-capable and stylish jackets. whose contemporary design and craftsmanship seamlessly make the switch from season to season. And this year, for it’s Spring/Summer ’19 collection, “JPN-LTD”, g-lab took it’s durable design to new heights with innovative fabrics especially engineered in Japan.
We spoke to the label’s founder, Björn Gericke to find out more about the collection and what inspired him to manouevre the tricky world of functional fashion.
SARAH OSEI What were your first experiences with designing?
BJÖRN GERICKE As a matter of fact, g-lab originally started off as a design and R&D agency in the sports and powersports industry when I founded the company! We designed motorbike gear and apparel for companies like GORE, Harley Davidson, KTM/Red Bull and many others. It was only after 7 years that we created a product of our own and started to build the brand.
SO I didn’t know that! So when you founded g-lab, as a clothing brand, what did you think was missing from outerwear?
BG No other jacket brand combined contemporary aesthetics with high end performance. Having extensively worked in both industries, fashion and functional sportsgear, it really bothered me that I was not able to find outerwear that would make me look good and feel good in terms of its functionality at the same time. I was wearing something rather stylish but was not comfortable as soon as it got into some weather – all the outerwear that actually did perform was my sportswear with skiing jackets from Peak Performance or The North Face, sailing gear from Musto or my bike gear – which I would not want to wear in the urban environment. So it was basically a genuine development that I needed to go down that road and unified both worlds. I had to create g-lab jackets!
SO What is the essence of the brand?
BG We create ‘Supreme Weatherwear’, which means contemporary design paired with true performance and premium quality.
SO It’s becoming increasingly hard to pin down, but what does luxury mean to you?
BG To me, freedom is the biggest luxury. It’s a superpower generated by independence, non-conformity and attitude.
“Our idea is really to create pieces that can accompany you 24/7.”
SO Outdoor clothing tends to be rather traditional and doesn’t embrace trends as much as pure-play fashion brands. How do you address this “delicate balance” when designing for g-lab?
BG Absolutely. When we launched the first g-lab jacket, the combination of contemporary design with high-end performance was not understood by fashion retail and it took us years to get where we are today: part of the overall concept completing the outfit.
Trends like athleisure and streetstyle did help us to move forward, outerwear is no longer „hidden“ since Balenciaga and all the others are now presenting it prominently within their collections. Our customers have now understood the value of our concept and are happy that we add to their portfolio. Our idea is really to create pieces that can accompany you 24/7. We carefully design jackets and coats with a great versatility, trying to make them as perfect as possible for their wearer in every situation while making them look their part all along their days, from business meetings to shopping trips and playground coffees. In modern life, daily sections blend seamlessly – and so should the outerwear that accompanies its wearer. Many of our jackets are designed as a 2-in-1 concept, meaning you can take out the high performance, warm PrimaLoft ™ thermo lining, which makes it a jacket that actually covers all seasons of the year. So some of the styles are adjustable in their silhouettes or have detachable hoods, presenting a totally different look when they are taken off, and, and, and…
Also, we believe in creating value through our contemporary yet timeless design, superior craftsmanship and quality. A g-lab jacket is not made for one season only – you „live in it“ for a long time … and when you decide for another style, you pass on the old one to someone you really like.
“To me, freedom is the biggest luxury.”
SO It’s a relatively straightforward concept, however not many brands manage to bridge that gap. Do you ever encounter times when functionality and fashion are at odds? How do you resolve that?
BG Of course, this is our biggest challenge. If you look at high performance sportswear, you will find that truly functional materials or details are often stiff, thick, standing. We feature truly functional claims for our garments, too, and need to offer the same features but design would never allow for functional material qualities as available off the self. A g-lab jacket is high performing but you would never guess so when you see or touch it. Therefore, we create our own fabrics, meaning we source fashion-oriented, often natural-fiber-based, fabrics and then add high-performance membranes and coating to make it g-lab: waterproof, windproof and breathable. As you can imagine, this sort of material development is really difficult and very often a fine line. The wool material, for example, took us more than 4 years in development. That’s a long time in this industry but we have set ourselves the highest standards. The excellence of our products lies in linking our determination for performance with our passion for design and style. This means thinking outside of the box and work, work, work.
SO I’m curious, who is your g-lab “muse”?
BG It’s us, our circle of friends, living the busy and all-encompassing modern, urban lifestyle.
SO What is your creative approach to creating a new collection?
BG The looks are constantly inspired by our countless travels to the most vibrant and creative cities of this world. And whenever we don’t work, we go high on sports – biking, skiing, sailing define our leisure time when we get out of the city. Here we enjoy the functionality and high end performance of the respected garments. These experiences and findings are then fused with urban everyday challenges and translated into the next design. We created an own, unique DNA over the years which will be found in every one of our jackets.
SO Your new JPN LTD collection was specially developed in Japan. What was it about Japan that inspired you and this capsule collection specifically?
BG Yes, the material of the SS19 capsule was developed in Japan. But it was – like all other products – designed here in our Düsseldorf office. We actually source fabrics regularly in Japan as they simply offer fantastic and very special material. For example, for FW19 we teamed up with a traditional Japanese weaving mill to create an extraordinary “Seigaiha“ dot print fabric. The original Seigaiha motif depicts ocean waves, and like a wave, no dot is like another as a traditional Japanese roller print technique is used to create the pattern.
Beyond the fantastic Japanese craftsmanship, Tokyo is one of my favourite spots for inspiration in general. I love the vibrancy of this city that combines tradition and future like no other place.
SO Definitely, Tokyo has its own very unique style that many find inspiring, I feel like silhouettes in Japanese fashion are not as gender-defined. So it’s quite fitting that the collections is unisex. What are the challenges of designing non-gendered clothing?
BG The main challenge is really the sizing.
SO What is your favourite piece from the collection?
BG For the upcoming season fall/winter 19, it’s the women’s coat “Blossom Seighaia” – an oversized puffer coat within the mentioned Seighaia overall print. For men’s , I really like “Craft”, a padded overshirt that comes in a supercool, new combat wool fabric.
SO What can we expect to see in the future of g-lab?
BG We will keep on challenging the status quo and will, like in the past, define new product groups. For Spring/Summer 20 we will, for example, broaden our spectrum and introduce a new “24/7 series” which is based on an indoor-outdoor concept. Stay tuned!
Interview SARAH OSEI