Bringing digital culture into fashion: In Real Life London
Dutch illustrator and designer Cornelia Van Rijswijk started hand-making her line of clothing in 2012, choosing to base her initial t-shirt collection on the concept of Tumblr feeds. At just 24, her newly named brand, In Real Life London, is already proving very popular due to its rebellious and digitally charged themes.
When was the brand created, and what is the inspiration behind it?
Cornelia: The brand started around January 2012, but with a slightly different name, and I only did t-shirts that were popular on Tumblr. The brand started making its own clothes in May 2012 – that’s when I changed the name to IRL LDN, and changed the aesthetic of the brand completely. The inspiration behind IRL is computer/internet-related, and is used as “IN REAL LIFE” in chat rooms and online games – a play on URL and IRL.
Are the designs all your own or are there multiple designers? Do any designs come from outside of the brand?
All the designs are my own; no multiple designers are involved. I do everything by myself.
I completely adore your black Baked beanie. Is there a story behind why you chose “baked”, “puke” and “nope”?
Well, I brought out the Baked t-shirts and thought I’d bring out Baked hats too. I used a different, clean and minimal font, as I want to tighten the aesthetic of the items I sell. The Puke beanies are just a bit of fun as is the Nope beanie. The words are rebellious and that’s why they are popular.
How do you personally feel about fashion, and how do you use it to express yourself?
I’m obviously interested in the fashion world and appreciate the high-end designers, but I’m interested in street fashion, and how sub-cultures express themselves.
What is your favourite era for design and why?
This is a difficult one…I think the 90s. I just like the baggy, casual, comfortable clothes and leggings. I guess this is how I dressed as a kid, and it’s how I feel most comfortable.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Being featured in magazines and having my clothes worn by music artists such as Charli XCX, Pictureplane and Little Mix. It was a great 2012!
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I’ve never given this much thought. I don’t think I’m ready to collaborate at the moment. I will do in the future, probably sportswear; Nike or Adidas would be brilliant.
Which of your current designs is your favourite?
Would you say your work is directed at a particular trend or group of people?
My work is directed at 16- to 25-year-old males and females. Many customers found me through Tumblr, so I guess you could say it’s directed to the Tumblr scene.
What are a few of your likes and dislikes in terms of design and style aesthetic?
Fashion is like a magnet. It has polar opposites, and it’s either one extreme or another. Everyone flocks to one or the other, whether they like it or not because once fashion has you in its grasp, it’s hard to let go. That’s why so many people follow such bad trends and end up looking ridiculous.
What would you say your own personal style is? Do you have a favourite item in your wardrobe?
Laid-back. Leggings, t-shirt, hoody, trainers or platforms. My favourite item is an Adidas sweater I found in a bin! Most of my favourite pieces have been bought for £1. I think that’s why I love them more.
What is your favourite thing about your job? Any negatives?
I love sewing, designing the prints and picking fabrics, and I love the thrill of making and receiving orders. The negatives are that I do everything by myself. I’m kind of like a Swiss army knife in that respect. However, during photo shoots, help from others is much needed, so I am grateful for that!
Please tell me about the creative process that went into your current collection. What techniques were used?
I spend a lot of time researching and thinking. I don’t actually start designing until I feel like it’s time. I don’t want to rush into it. Once I receive the printed fabric (which I wait weeks for), I roll it out and stare at it, and kind of imagine the clothes coming out of the fabric.
How do you feel about the fashion industry at the moment? Do you think the change in economy has changed the industry?
I think that the cut-backs have led a lot of people to keep it safe, and they stick to buying classic items. I guess that’s why we’ve seen such a colourful backlash in street fashion over the last year.
How would you describe your personality, and is this reflected in your work?
I’m always silly and make jokes. I don’t beat around the bush. I’m direct and honest. So when I’m making and designing, I keep it fun. As soon as it feels like it’s getting too serious, I step back and think how I could make it fun. I guess I’m not the kind of person that likes to be constrained or controlled.
Have you any plans for the future? When can we expect your next collection, and where do you hope to be in five years?
Yes, I plan to develop my skills in garment-making and design. I feel like I have so much more to learn, and I’ve come so far in less than a year. As for the brand, I wish to increase the number of products available by bringing out new t-shirt and hat designs.
To shop for a glorious and psychedelic piece, visit In Real Life London here.