Thomasine Barnekow, the gifted founder of Thomasine Gloves
, and her up-and-coming company are all-the-more making people see gloves in a different perspective – as a statement accessory. Barnekow launched her business six years ago, and aside from working on her own line, she has welcomed enthusiastically a range of internationally successful collaborations with artists and fellow designers. We caught up with her for an in-depth interview, while she was working on her ten-year anniversary exhibition with a museum in her hometown Kristianstad, Sweden.
Why did you choose to focus on designing gloves?
It started with the idea of making gloves as soft wearable jewelry. I realized that there were few designers on the international market focusing on this product. It felt like a gift finding an accessory for which there is still great potential from a creative aspect. I have taken the challenge to try to modernize an old craft, and make people wear gloves again – but in a new way!
What is your main source of inspiration and how is it translated into your designs?
Touching materials stimulates the beginning of a new idea. Resulting from my inspiration, my designs are quite sculptural – the shape, the construction and the combination of materials. I believe the geometry in architecture and the organic flow in nature inspire me the most. I try to work my idea around harmony.
Your gloves are named after the cities that have inspired you. What is it that inspires you in each city?
I love traveling and meeting new people. This spirit inspires me to create a collection of gloves as an everyday luxury accessory for modern travelers with an independent style. Places I have been and people I have met inspire the names of my gloves.
You have welcomed a range of collaborations with artists and photographers and commissions. How has each project helped you grow?
Collaborations make you look further – they give me a chance to create with a new design identity and make my work viewed in a new light and with a new visual identity. Walter van Beirendonck gave me the chance to explore art with gloves on an international level. Our final work was exhibited at several museums worldwide and received a lot of publicity. In Opera de Paris, I had the opportunity to work in a world of dreams – and to be a small part of a larger production – where every person engaged backstage and on stage made the most of themselves with a splendid perfection. Finally, the collaboration with Partners in Crime was very important for the growth of my brand. Having professionals fall in love with my collection and communicating it through their visual work makes my gloves reach further.
Your line also includes men’s gloves. How hard is it to get creative when designing for men?
My philosophy is to never forget men – they love to feel special as much as women. Small details, color and material combinations can make a big difference.
Do you feel pressure being creative and commercial at the same time and level?
I would rather call it a challenge – though I have made a choice of remaining creative rather than commercial with my own collection. I have promised not to sell my soul for money, but my goal is to make an internationally successful, creative company.
Do you feel that consumers’ approach to gloves as a statement accessory is changing?
It has begun to change. With my collections, I try to change the current attitude towards gloves – to make people see them as soft jewelry and urge them to create a “glove-wardrobe,” matching their different moods with different gloves.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Seeing customers falling in love with my designs! But the feeling of succeeding with a deadline for a fashion show is also very rewarding. For the couture collections I created for Walter van Beirendonck, I had been working day and night stitching to finish the collection, and felt great satisfaction, when I heard the music pumping and saw the models entering the catwalk wearing my gloves.
It was also part of my dream to work with the Paris Opera; a world full of magic, imagination, drama, passion and death – an art that always inspires me!
What are your future plans?
To make my glove collection popular around the world, continue doing couture collections and special collaborations with selected artistic brands, the opera and, hopefully, start working with the music and movie industry for customized accessories.