We had the great opportunity to interview the designer, Conny Groenewegen, who created the brand, Electric co.
1. Tell us a bit about Electric co.
Electric co is my brand, and is based on the knits that I developed on the knitting machine. They are very sculptural as I use a 3D knitting technique. I base my designs on architectural shapes by using rigid fabrics.
2. What gave you the idea to use soft tech materials?
The idea is based on the technical part of knitting. I make all the patterns myself for the digital machine. I see the results as a type of sculpture. The results that come out of the machine are very soft, which makes me think of soft sculpture. That is why I chose the word “soft tech” to describe what I do.
3. Tell us about your background.
I did a combined study of fashion and art. The fashion part was very strict as it was mainly composed of pattern making and tailoring. I studied in Rotterdam at a very technical school. After that, I attended The Willem de Kooning Academy to study fashion and was also studying fine art at the same time. When I arrived in my third year, I had to choose what course I wanted to graduate in as I had done 2 years of fashion and 2 years of Art. I chose to graduate as a Fine Art student. The degree included mixed media, performance video and drawing. I started exhibiting my drawings in galleries.
A few years later, I came in contact with Alexander van Slobbe and he proposed me to work for him. I accepted and that is how I came back into the fashion world.
4. What is your favourite part about your job?
My favourite part is the fact that I can work with people that are as crazy as me or that are technically very advanced. What I love most is that fashion offers you a lot of freedom, and there are no limits to creativity. If you have an idea, you can just create it, with no restrictions. Experimenting with fabrics is also a very fun part for me.
5. How do you see the future of Electric co?
I think it is a brand and idea that should develop slowly. I started it in 2015. When I go too fast there is always something that goes wrong. I need to take my time and let it grow from the inside. I am still working with people to create a strong centre. I think the base of my brand is already quite strong and it has potential to be a long-term brand.
6. Tell us some more about the fashion machine project?
Fashion machine started from an idea we had at the contemporary fashion museum in Rotterdam in 2015. It originated from the idea that we wanted to show people the backside of fashion. Most people are not aware that the industry is not only glamour. Fashion is the first most polluting industry in the world after the oil industry. I found this to be quite shocking. I also found out that fleece was one of the most difficult fabric to handle within the industry as there are a lot of leftovers. That is why I chose to create this project around fleece sweaters.
7. How long did it take you to finish the entire piece that will be seen on the Mediatec building?
Many fashion students came to help us create the project and they are more aware of what is really happening. Together it took us 2,5 months.
8. What is your proudest accomplishment?
Fashion machine is probably my favourite project as it has impact on people, which makes me happy. I am also very proud of Electric co as it has a lot of potential. Where I am right now is probably the best time for me.
9. Is there a designer that you admire or inspire yourself from?
I learned knitting from the knitting engineer of Issey Miyake. He taught me a great deal and was my inspiration to start digital knitting. He would create 3D clothes with a machine he created himself and he didn’t need a sewing machine. I thought he was a genius. Otherwise, I really admire Japanese designers.