INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER JANIS MUNZ
Damaged / Goods: What led you to pursue a career as a designer?
Janis Munz: Wanting to be my own boss, faith in my taste I think the need to prove myself.
Damaged: What have you learned from your two previous collections and how have you grown as a designer?
Janis: People care about the product as much as they care about the community, that was really surprising. More than as a designer I’ve grown as a business minded person.
Damaged: What inspired this new collection?
Janis: Two things: what the customers told me they wanted and the French yéyés. The term yéyé comes from the English “yeah yeah”. It’s essentially a pop wave from the 60’s that broke the 50’s “rules” in every way. Everything became colorful and bright. I’ve been obsessed with Dalida and Serge Gainsbourg since I was very young, the yéyé is kind of where they met. And honestly, wasn’t everything better in the 60s?
Damaged: Where do you find inspiration?
Janis: People! I like to listen to what they want. I also like to find communities who make special textiles and go from there. That’s how I made the denim bag.
Damaged: Tell us how you’ve found the textiles behind your new denim bags?
Janis: I wanted a denim bag and I wanted a fully sustainable collection. I looked everywhere and talk an organization called Nest, who connected me with The New Denim project.
Damaged: Who are you designing for?
Janis: Everyone. Men, women, transsexuals, black, white, big or skinny… I really want Janis Studios to be as inclusive as possible.
Damaged: Where are you sourcing from?
Janis: Our leather is ethically sourced in Italy. Our denim was sourced in Guatemala from a factory that had upcycled it. We’re working on a collection with a community in Scotland right now. We want to be as ethical as possible and promote the work under-seen communities.
Damaged: Why NYC?
Janis: It was either NYC or Paris for me, where I’m from. But honestly, trying to build a leather handbag business in the land of Hermes, Vuitton and Chanel… It didn’t make sense to me.
Damaged: Why not?
Janis: The competition is very hard. Plus New York is the center of the world, everything is more attainable: getting fabics, the right scene, etc. I also felt like in Paris, people weren’t giving emerging brands the attention they deserve. New products don’t get the same exposure. People like their habits, they fear anything new.
Damaged: I beg to differ. Los Angeles is now the next great Capital of The World. We've had the film and the music industry for years. The fashion district is booming in addition to exploding renaissance of the Art world here. Furthermore, CA is the most progressive US states when it comes to natural & holistic medicine, clean energy, ethical and sustainable fashion and new technologies. "Tip the world over on its side and everything lose will land in Los Angeles." Frank Lloyd Wright
Janis: Oooh my bad I was answering why not to Why Not Paris -- I’ve thought about Los Angeles a lot, and almost moved there when I was working in film. I still want to build a base there, and we did our first IRL experience on Melrose. But living there… It’s too far from Paris for me.
Damaged: New-York was my first love, I don't mean any disrespect. Some of my closest friends are born and raised New-Yorkers. But as a young artist, entrepreneur, art dealer, publisher, actor, musician, I don't see New-York being the center for the world. I watch Woody Allen's Manhattan and Larry Clark's KIDS at least twice a year. I am still very nostalgic and appreciate spending time there. Neither one of these filmmakers could make those films in NYC the way they did back then. If you have dreams of opening an Art gallery in NYC, everything has already been established by our peers for the past 30/40 years.The market, industry is quasi impenetrable for anyone under their 30's.
California, Los Angles, The future, still has that rebel yell. It's new, fresh, everything is still there to create and re create. Start businesses, take over the silicone valley. It's the far west. You have people like Elon Musk doing working towards reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption. The guy is literally building an Aerospace manufacturing company in Hawthorne, CA. People are changing the world here.
Damaged: How does your Parisian upbringing influence your creations?
Janis: 10000000%. New York is my office, Paris my home. Nothing inspires me more than home. My family, the food, the streets, the colors, the music… That’s definitely my biggest influence.
Damaged: Tips for a Parisian weekend?
Janis: Eat everywhere. Never take the subway, walk everywhere.
Damaged: How does music inspire your creative work?
Janis: This collection specifically was inspired by the Yéyés: Birkin, Dalida, Vartan, France Gall. In general, I listen to a lot of Gainsbourg and French hip hop.
Damaged: Who is your favorite French hip hop band?
Janis: That’s hard. NTM for old school. I just read Diam’s’ book and was really moved. But really, MC Solaar and now Belgian rap: Romeo Elvis etc.
Damaged: Dream project?
Janis: Writing a book, maybe with my dad.
Damaged: He would be a good one to write with lol) What would the book be about?
Janis: You’d have to ask him! Family, most likely. He always wanted me to be a writer. I hope he’s not disappointed!
Damaged: Fair enough. I owe him and his beautiful wife Celine, my first love, a call to congratulate them both on the new addition to you're growing family,
What’s your damage?
Janis: I don’t know where my home is at this point. I’ve been in New York for 6 years, since I was 18. But I don’t feel quite at home here. And when I’m in Paris, where I think I really feel at home, I often find the pace too slow and that everything is just kind of lagging. So, I’m really missing a sense of belonging somewhere, being at peace with my environment.