the story behind
We would love to share the story behind Sofie D'Hoore. We sat down with Sofie D'Hoore herself to get to know the Belgian designer better. Who are the people behind the brand? How did it all start and in which items should we invest in according to Sofie D'Hoore?
What was the initial idea behind Sofie D’Hoore? How did it all begin after your studies and work at Franco Bruccoleri?
“In Italy, I was offered a job in production by Mr. Bruccoleri. Afterwards, he gave me the opportunity to design my own collection. When the company went to bust, I returned to Belgium, upon which I met Chantal Spaas, my current business partner. She had a vast network all over the world and years of experience in the field. We soon established Fashion Ink together and slowly started building our business. She manages the commercial side while I have complete liberty over the creative aspect. Over twenty-five years later, this still suits us both very well.”
How would you describe the aesthetic identity of Sofie D’Hoore?
“My designs are often described as minimal and pure. They are elegant and feminine and allow great liberty of movement. Every garment is created so that it is comfortable, practical and easy to wear. Simplicity is a word that often comes to mind. However, this does not mean that the cut of the garments is simple. I dedicate a great deal of time to my patterns. I aim to create unusual volumes in the finest materials. The integrity of the materials is paramount. Finally, the garments should speak for themselves.”
Sofie D’Hoore is known for natural materials and clean lines. Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
“I feel myself returning to the essence of the craft. I often look back to folklore and traditional costumes. The kimono, the African robe, the classic shirt. If a certain cut has been around for such a long time, there must be a reason why. These ‘primal forms’ allow me to push my boundaries and find new inspiration.”
How did you get into the world of fashion? Is it something you were always interested in?
“I grew up in an intellectual environment and would always travel to Paris with my mother, to whom I credit my love for fashion. From a young age, I had a keen interest in sewing and drawing garments. A career in the field seemed a precarious career choice to my parents. Especially to my father who had a medical training. I eventually decided to train as a dentist. I knew soon enough that I would never become one. After graduating, I enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp where I studied under Walter Van Beirendonck. I ended up staying for two years before setting off to Italy in search of a job and real, tangible experience.”
Do you have a style icon or muse in mind while designing?
“I have always been drawn to creative women, such as designers, artists and architects. Women with a strong artistic vision and a sense of self-belief. A source of inspiration, in historical terms, is the 20th century Russian avant-garde designer Varvara Stepanova. She was obsessed with geometric forms and functionality. I love the simplicity and graphic quality of her work. She wanted to liberate women from the restrictive fashions of the day and created functional, practical garments for active, working women. Her spirit is reflected in the uncomplicated nature of the clothes I design and in the freedom of movement they allow the wearer.”
In what kind of item(s) should everyone invest?
“I believe that classic white shirts are always a sure bet. I have become well-known for my use of poplin. I tend to describe the feel of my shirts by a term the English describe as ‘crisp’. I absolute love the feeling of fresh sheets when getting into bed. This feeling is equally important when getting dressed. After stepping out of the shower, you put on a crisp white poplin shirt and start your day with a clear mind.
Strong coats have a long-life span. Every collection always has a strong selection of outerwear. I work with Italian manufacturers that still use time-honoured and artisanal techniques. How often does one come across a double-faced wool coat? However, once you are used to not only the great comfort but the immense practicality this technique offers, you hardly want to wear any other coat ever again.”
“I believe that classic white shirts are always
a sure bet. I have become well-known for my use
of poplin. I tend to describe the feel of my shirts
by a term the English describe as ‘crisp’.
I absolute love the feeling of fresh sheets when getting
into bed. This feeling is equally important when
getting dressed. After stepping out of the shower,
you put on a crisp white poplin shirt and start
your day with a clear mind.”
What is your favorite design of all Sofie D’Hoore collections?
“It is honestly very difficult to give an answer to this question. Each season really reflects a new offering that I want to present to the outside world. I always put a lot of dedication in every new design I introduce. I could not simply pick a favourite.”
How do you want women to feel when they wear Sofie D’Hoore?
“The women who buy my clothes are independent women who are well traveled and active in the worlds of theatre, dance, architecture, and the visual arts. They cherish this independence and have a certain practicality to them. They appreciate the fact that my designs are simple, comfortable and fit for everyday life and they have the personality to match them. I am often told that my clothes make them feel younger.
There are so many tricks in my patterns that make women feel elegant and comfortable without necessarily knowing why they do. I think that is why a lot of female designers are doing well now. At the end of the day, they can feel what women feel.”
How does a day at the Sofie D’Hoore atelier look like? What’s your daily routine?
“When I embark upon a new collection, fabric is the starting point. Each season, I research hundreds of textiles before making the choices that will influence my designs. I have three full-time pattern makers, which is enormous for a company this size. This is how I like to work so ideas can be materialized immediately. I prefer this to having five people searching for inspiration all day. Finding ideas is not the problem, the problem is channeling your ideas in the right direction. For me inspiration comes in the working process; when I work in this practical way I can refine a piece as I go.
Every Friday afternoon, I say goodbye to my studio in Brussels. Before heading home, I take piano lessons to decompress. Then I am off to the seaside. Weekends consists of bicycle rides along the sea and doing handicrafts with my son. This balance works surprisingly well.”
“My designs are often described as minimal and pure. They are elegant and feminine and allow great liberty of movement. Every garment is created so that it is comfortable, practical and easy to wear.”
What does Sofie D’Hoore contribute to sustainability?
“There is simply said too much fashion. I sometimes worry that I am part of this fast fashion system; I contribute to this large-scale overproduction. The only modest solution I can offer is this: garments that are timeless, not bound by any trends and that maintain their value and beauty over time. And it is true. I am sometimes approached by customers who tell me: I have had these trousers in my closet for over twenty years and I still wear them.”
How would you define the Sofie D’Hoore collection at Pauw?
“Madeleine Pauw is someone who shows incredible decisiveness and who truly buys like no other client of ours. She is not afraid of going in depth and has an incredible flair for selecting strong styles. The way in which she buys perfectly translates a very coherent vision of what she wants to present to the Pauw customer. In a sense, she is almost unyielding. She has a clear image of what will be on offer in store and carries this through from A to Z. It is a compliment to have someone who designs her own expansive and detailed collection buying Sofie D’Hoore. She is quite inimitable.”