INTERVIEW ODDA MAGAZINE BY ADRIAN GOMIS EXPOSITO
Francon Editions is a womenswear brand from Rotterdam founded by creative director May Kaan and architect Kees Kaan whose aesthetic represents a modern, iterative approach to dressing, with timeless and seasonless collections inspired by architectural thinking. Instead of thinking about the temporality of clothes, Francon focuses on the setting and purpose of the garments to give them a purpose and functionality based on the place they are meant to be used as not two places are the same. With classic signature silhouettes rendered in exceptional fabrics and materials, Francon provides the ultimate wardrobe. ODDA has a lovely chat with May Kaan to catch up on Francon’s presentation during the Tranoï show and to reflect on the brand’s fundamentals and aesthetics.
ADRIAN GOMIS EXPOSITO. Francon Editions’s aesthetics are stunning, and that’s because you have a modern, iterative approach to dressing, which is inspired by architectural thinking. Could you explain to us how you integrate that architectural thinking into dress-making?
MAY KAAN. Francon’s thinking is implicitly architectural. I founded the brand together with my partner Kees Kaan who is an architect, and I look at how architects take on a design or a new assignment of a building and they start by looking at the context, the final user, and the purpose of the building. We operate in a similar way with Francon. We look at the setting instead of the seasons – that’s the key to our design inspiration.
A.G.E. With your strong identity, you have managed to build a unique brand based on “Francon’s five foundational architectural archetypes.” Why did you decide to set up your brand with these basics?
M. K. The archetypes are a further elaboration of the setting concept. We divide the collections into very different and iconic archetypes which are the lake house, the tower, the cabin, the chalet, and the palazzo. All these houses inspire different behaviors and ways of dressing and we design with these archetypes in mind.
A.G.E. Besides the importance you give to architecture and the relevance it has in your work, what’s your story with fashion?
M. K. I was in the Art Academy of Rotterdam but I was totally interested in fashion, so I switched to the Fashion Academy of Amsterdam. When I was around twenty years old, I started working at Yves Saint Laurent in London and I was living in a squat building on the south bank of London to be able to do so. I think working there drove me towards a classic approach to fashion design, focusing on quality, good materials, good fits, and craftsmanship. When I think about these housing archetypes I think about what you would like to wear in these places, how you behave in them, and how you socialize there.
A.G.E. Why is architecture so important for your brand, and how would you say your work is similar to that of an architect?
M. K. We are a fashion brand, not an architecture company, so I wouldn’t personally compare myself with an architect. However, what I think is interesting is that architects don’t have the freedom to work in the delusional day-to-day, fashion is really fast in comparison to them, even being together in the same creative industry. Architects have to wait for five, ten, or even more years before their ideas are built. I really like the idea of a long life span, and that’s what we try to translate to our designs and garments.
A.G.E. Seasonless and timeless collections are becoming more popular and relevant within the fashion industry due to the new needs and social responsibility of the industry. How are your seasonless collections contributing to sustainable fashion and what’s your corporate responsibility regarding this matter?
M. K. We are sincerely interested in figuring out the sustainability topic. First of all, we try to rethink the need, like why we even need garments – that’s why we design timeless and seasonless clothes because what you buy today, you should be able to use in five to ten years' time. Secondly, we’re also trying to redefine our methods and reduce our environmental impact, so we work with small production quantities, which allows us to work with deadstock fabrics, and we produce our garments in Europe as close to home as possible. They’re small steps, but they’re steps towards a better future.
A.G.E. You are presenting a new collection at the Tranoï show. What can you tell us about this new collection? How was the creative process and how do you feel about the outcome?
M. K. We are presenting our third collection, and it’s an edit of items from the lake house, the tower and for the first time the cabin edition. For us, all these items are the building blocks of our ultimate wardrobe. Once we deliver this collection we start working on the next one!
A.G.E. Fashion shows and runways are always exciting, but I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure and nerves before the show. How do you feel and how are you dealing with all this excitement at the time of presenting a new collection?
M. K. I don’t. We organized our debut show quite recently during the Amsterdam Fashion Week in which we showed our latest collection at Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, a really amazing location. During that day, there’s no time for stress, you just have to focus. But to be honest, the days before were a bit more hectic personally.
A.G.E. What does this opportunity of being part of the Tranoï show mean to you, personally, and the positive impact it will have on the reputation of your brand?
M. K. It’s recognition for the brand because we cannot unfold our ideas without the support of our customers, retailers, the media, and of course, a great show like Tranoï is fundamental. We’re really excited to be part of it.