In a market saturated by slogan sweats, Dutch-born label Zoe Karssen still stands out. Launched 2010 by wife-and-husband team Zoe and Quince Karssen, the brand continues to reinterpret the modern tee, condensing entire worlds into a sets of visual ciphers.
Check out SS15, redolent of a Californian summer, in the 1970s. Sports luxe and easy palm prints in bubble gum pink and baby blue, black and grey, work with the slogans such as ‘Heaven can wait’ (a reference to the 1978 film of the same name by Warren Beatty?), ‘Misfits (the film by Marilyn Monroe), ‘stoked’ (surfing terminology) and ‘day dream’.
Who is the ‘Zoe Karssen’ girl? ‘She’s wild and carefree, the girl every other girl wants to be,’ replies Zoe herself, by email from Amsterdam. ‘We started with this image of a rock & roll girl in the late 70’s with effortless style … great jeans and t-shirt with the perfect messy hair, oozing with such confidence that everyone can’t help but look at her.’
The brand launched with its now iconic ‘bat’ tee. The first slogans – ‘French kissing in the USA’, ‘GOOD GIRLS LOVE BAD BOYS’ and ‘Paris can wait’ came after. ‘Wearing slogans on your t-shirt can spark a reaction,’ says Zoe. ‘We keep our slogans tongue-in-cheek. We want to make girls smile, feel confident and have fun – but always rock’n’roll and never too nice, girly or sweet! That’s not Zoe Karssen …’
No surprise then that early inspiration came from our own Vivienne Westwood. ‘The boobs tee – it just keeps popping up again and again,’ says Zoe. ‘And now it’s been re-issued. This crewneck T-shirt was probably the first to feature printed breasts and it’s still pretty risque!’
A couple of years, the brand decided to branch out into other products – knits, bottoms, jackets, high-end denim and now, swimwear (see below). As you’d expect, they work beautifully, creating a wardrobe of luxury basics with sweet, easy fits.
‘We’re extremely ambitious and hungry for Zoe Karssen brand to expand and succeed as a major player in the fashion industry,’ explains Zoe. ‘And our customers have responded well to the new products. That gives us a lot of drive.’