Sophie vom Scheidt of Sooph, is one creative and passionate fashionista! She lives and works here in Berlin and her approaches to sustainability are intelligent, creative and multi-faceted. It’s easy to see how her worldliness affects her aesthetics, but we truly appreciate how she knows where she’s come from and where she’s headed.
Sophie wearing her own creations
Please tell us some of the most important experiences that lead you to where you are today, working on your designs in Berlin.
Living in Amsterdam for about 2 years was pretty important for me. I had a wide range of friends and really enjoyed the multicultural society there. I also traveled to the Middle East, Palestine and also to Africa. I was so impressed by the handcraft and the fabrics used over there. Witnessing their everyday lives, with my own eyes, changed my whole perspective on the world and made it even more clear how brainwashed we are by the media.
Your varsity jackets are likely among your best sellers and have become a distinct part of the Sooph brand. We love them! What do you think makes them so attractive to people like us?
Varsity jackets are a true classic of youth and urban culture, which is why I think they are appealing to such a wide range of people. Rockabillies, indies and hipsters like them just as much as hip hoppers. Because they are reversible, it also attracts those that prefer it loud and those who like it classy. I like how they are not as bulky as the original ones and still have that all-time favourite, classic spirit to them. If you wear a nice varsity jacket, you just look well-dressed and cool at the same time, isn’t that what we all want? I’ve been around varsity jackets most of my life – my aim is to make them fit perfectly for every size and every person, all while keeping them funky and up-to-date. And of course quality is extremely important since they should, of course, last a lifetime.
You’ve created some amazing stage outfits so far. Do you have any favorites? How do these outfits differ from your street wear collections?
Stage outfits are much more free and crazy. They always have to be more exaggerated and extreme and that’s what I like about them, you can really go wild. Also I like the direct combination of music-culture and fashion, which go hand in-hand anyway, but with stage outfits you can really add this little extra to the music with the clothes and the other way around. I worked with THE VERY BEST, take them for example, they are all about Africa and African sounds and about how to mix them with western music and that is exactly what I do with my clothes, so it just fit perfectly. I also like how stage outfits move and come to life on stage. Last but not least, it’s nice if a whole lot of people see your clothes at one time and if the performers feel comfortable and happy in them.
The direct use of used material is a new concept for your designs, but can you briefly explain why sustainability in fashion is important for you?
When I wrote my thesis with a friend for my fashion design diploma, we wrote a 200 page “book” on the environmental and social problems in the textile industry. So I am very aware of the problems in the textile industry and am very critical about the entire fashion business. I don’t want people to buy a ton of new clothes all the time and change their entire wardrobe 2 to 3 times a year.
I think it is a shame that we got used to crazy cheap prices for garments due to cheap labour in the Far East. I don’t like the damage that the dying and bleaching of fabrics and denim does to the environment. I could go on and on forever….. I just really hope to use only recycled and organic fabrics. I had a shop with a friend and we used as many organic fabrics as possible there, it was hard to explain to the people why our clothes had to sell for such higher prices, but I still think that there is no way to avoid the consequences of bad choices than to be more conscious about what we wear and how much we buy. In general, just be conscious about what and why you consume. Upcycling is one important part of it and I am really looking forward to dig deeply into it for this collection. I always keep little bits and pieces and use parts of 2nd hand clothes, so it is not that new to me. But for this collection I plan to source old curtains or bed linens that I can mix with my African fabrics.
Lando Kal wearing custom made jacket by Sooph on the flyer for Amsterdam music festival Appelsap. Photo by Malou van Breevoort.
Other than for aesthetic reasons, why do you choose to focus so much on the use of African fabrics?
The mission that I have, in regards to my African fabrics, is not so much environmental as it is social. I want to create awareness of other cultures and their diversity. I want to tell the story behind the product. It would be great if people could track which country their fabrics came from, what kind of techniques were used and who made them. Also to keep hand-craft traditions alive, for example in Palestine all the woman used to embroider a lot, using a lot of really bright colors, and now they do it less and less. One day no one will remember how to make these traditional embroideries and what a shame that will be.
I would love to make modern styles and hip clothes that feature these old handcraft techniques, to keep them alive, create a living for those who make them and telling their stories.
For now, I mainly focus on using African wax prints, in particular kente fabrica from Ghana, and trying to buy them as much as possible, directly from Africa or African importers here in Europe. For the future, I would like to have one manufacturer over in Africa with whom I could work closely together.
Sooph’s newest, upcycled collection will be launched at SemiDomesticated’s next event, Funky Fresh on July 6th-9th. Get there first because these jackets, seriously, won’t last long. You can check out more of her work on her website.