As part of our Behind the Seams series, we caught up with senscommon’s lead designer, Laura Silinska, to discuss her label’s background, output and vision.
A new raincoat is taking Amsterdam by storm. Its design is calibrated to repel the Netherlands’ notoriously volatile weather patterns, and its cut sits perfectly on a moving cyclist. This high-tech piece of gear is exceptionally light-weight and fits into a handy, watertight pouch, allowing cyclists to quickly alter their outfits after dismounting. These functional qualities are balanced with a flawless sense of style that is fundamentally genderless, and the coat is deliberately designed to complement feminine and masculine physiques.
To learn more about this modern lifestyle essential we reached out to its creators, senscommon, and spoke with their lead designer Laura Silinska.
How did the Cyclist Raincoat come about?
I have been working on the design of Cyclist Raincoat sporadically for around four years and it all started as a commission for my friend’s bike brand Erenpreiss. One version to another, the coat was shortlisted for the Muji Design Awards in 2014 and was going to start appearing in stores by September 2015. At the last minute, Muji decided to pull out, but their interest gave me enough confidence to continue with the design. This shaped the identity and the vision of senscommon.
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How did you develop the coat’s tech and can you tell us about its aesthetic?
I believe that apparel design should embrace technically advanced materials and techniques. Personally, I am against low-quality, fast-fashion, and think that, durable, versatile textiles are the way forward. For me, laser-cutting, seam welding/taping, and 3D knitting should no longer be an experiment or a decoration. They should be the standard, leading to more comfortable, performant, products that are compatible with modern life.
As Cyclist Raincoat combines aspects of fashionable streetwear and cycling apparel, perfecting its silhouette was particularly challenging. To get to the point where both worlds met took serious work, and every small aesthetic change had to be tested on a bike to ensure that it didn’t effect the coat’s performance. It was quite a ping-pong match.
What differentiates your coat from other comparable outwear?
I like to think that senscommon is creating a new market between the niche techwear created by Nike ACG, Y-3, or Acronym and Muji, or Uniqlo’s functional clothing. Cyclist Raincoat is an affordable techwear item that delivers maximum performance, while keeping to a basic, minimalistic design.
How did you find the process of funding the brand through Kickstarter?
Over the course of 30 days Kickstarter allowed senscommon to interact directly with customers, pre-sell the product and conduct market research, all at once. I cannot imagine being able to gather as many contacts, feedback and collaboration offers if we had launched the product using traditional methods. Participating in shows or exhibitions would have definitely taken us a year, if not more.
If we were to spend a day hanging out in Amsterdam with you, where would you take us?
Cycle around neighborhoods featuring Amsterdam School architecture. Go to Hotel Droog’s design store and eat at a ramen place on the 5th floor of a Chinese supermarket. Then, take in a brewery tour, ending the day at De School’s restaurant and club.
What are your plans for the future? Are there any other items in the pipeline?
We want our product to be well represented overseas and we are currently looking for suitable distributors in Japan, Canada and the U.S.A. Cyclist Raincoat is already available on our web-store, and we plan to use this site as our main platform- allowing us to communicate our vision while offering our products.
We have several ideas on paper, but are going to wait until Cyclist Raincoat has found its feet before committing to a new project. We want to approach apparel using processes drawn from furniture design; spending time perfecting a single product and only releasing it when it is truly ready.
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