Inge Onsea X Rebekka Bach

People Inge Onsea X Rebekka Bach

21 February 2020

Into the blues: Inge Onsea X Rebekka Bach


Even if you’re not a ‘jeans person’, you probably have at least one denim item lying in your closet. From pants to jackets, shirts, and dresses, the days that the fabric was solely used for heavy work clothing are long behind us. With denim’s continued rise in popularity, Essentiel Antwerp decided they needed a real denim expert to come aboard and level the playing field.

This Spring/Summer 2020 is Rebekka Bach’s first denim collection for Essentiel Antwerp, and she immediately set the bar. Not only did denim become more than a way to combine the season’s pieces, but Rebekka also helped change the way our denim is produced. “The expansion of denim for Essentiel Antwerp was the perfect moment to become more sustainable,” Rebekka explains. “It’s a challenge to change the conventional way of doing things, but now we’ve teamed up with a sustainable denim maker to make the production behind our denim pieces eco-responsible. It’s a first step that can hopefully go even further in the future.”

To discuss the importance of that new, eco-friendly approach, their love for denim, and designing side by side, Inge and Rebekka made time in their busy schedules to sit down together.




Before we talk about sustainability and working on a collection, let’s go back to the beginning: what’s your earliest denim memory?

Inge:   “You should start, you are the denim specialist, after all.”

Rebekka:   “I remember my first jeans from when I was around 14. I received them on Blue Monday, which is the day after your Communion ceremony in Denmark. It’s an old tradition that comes from the idea that you are a grown-up after the ceremony. In the past, that would have been the day you would leave home to start working, but nowadays, Blue Monday is the day you get your first pair of real branded jeans. That’s when I got my first pair, a Levi’s 501.”

I:   “I love the 501! I still think they’re very cool. My earliest jeans memory is from the pair I didn’t get. [Laughs]. At the time, everyone wanted Chevignon jeans, but they were too expensive, so my mother wouldn’t buy them for me. This is my first memory and first frustration about jeans. [Laughs].”

Now you can buy your own jeans, do you have a lot of denim in your closet?

R:   “Of course I do! [Laughs]. Denim is something that becomes more beautiful over the years. It becomes more unique the older it gets, and the more stains and tears it has. Naturally your body changes, you become smaller or bigger over the years, but I never get rid of a pair. I’m a real collector.”

I:   “I have a closet just for my jeans, so I have a lot of them. For me, it’s the basic piece that every woman wears when they don’t know what to wear. I also think it has become a fashion statement over the years. Before denim was reserved for casual dressing, now you can wear it anywhere, anytime. But unlike Rebekka, I do get rid of the pairs I never wear. Otherwise, there’s simply not enough space in my closet. [Laughs].”

Do you have a favorite pair of go-to jeans?

I:   “My favorites change all the time. This summer, I was obsessed with my jeans with big pleats, and now I feel like I’m returning to flared styles.”

R:   “The overall view of denim and fashion is changing a lot. It used to be a ‘basic’ item, and now it’s something that’s more on-trend, a fashion item of which styles and cuts switch with the seasons. I used to wear a lot of stretch, but now the trend is shifting to rigid jeans, and they are taking over my own style as well. The material completely changes the model, and in a way, rigid jeans give you that bit of natural correction in the fit to make your bum look even better. [Laughs].”

I:   “Indeed! My bum looks nicer in a non-stretch, and that’s what it’s all about. [Laughs]. But if I’m honest, I don’t think I ever owned a blue pair of jeans with stretch. My white and black pairs will have some stretch in them sometimes, but with the ‘real blues’, I’ve never worn stretch.”

What makes you love denim?

I:   “It gives an immediate coolness to your outfit. In my opinion, denim has something that no other clothing piece can create. The only other thing I can think of that has the same type of effect is a biker jacket.”

R:   “Plus, denim has this way of making even the most dressed-up outfit look approachable and effortless. It’s also so versatile. You can wear it to a party, to the office…”

I:   “Especially now. A few years ago, that was not the case. I wear jeans to a party or a restaurant now, but before that would have been frowned upon. It’s the same with sneakers. They’ve become part of the fashionable image now when you couldn’t imagine seeing someone wearing them underneath a suit before, for example. The line of what’s considered ‘appropriate’ is slowly evaporating.”

You’ve both mentioned how your preference in jeans styles changes with the wind, but if you could only wear one style for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I:   “Boyfriend jeans, without a doubt!”

R:   “I’m the same. A good pair of men’s jeans will never go out of style.”




Luckily, you’re clearly on the same page when it comes to denim. This Spring/Summer 2020 collection is the first for which Rebekka designed the denim line. How did it all come alive?

I:   “Let’s start by saying that we really needed a denim specialist. Essentiel Antwerp has always had denim in its collections, but this season it’s at a whole new level. Before Rebekka, denim was added almost as an afterthought, simply because we needed those pieces to be able to combine the rest of the collection in a cool way. Thanks to Rebekka, our denim can even be seen as a stand-alone collection. What I immediately loved about her is the fact that she’s extremely fashionable, feminine, and cool. She’s the perfect person to translate that boyish coolness of denim to Essentiel Antwerp’s DNA.”

R:   “It’s been such a nice journey. What’s funny when I look at the collection now, is how much of it is a mix of my own aesthetic and Inge’s. When you’re in the middle of the creative process, you don’t always realize that, but it’s so obvious now. [Laughs]. The distressed high-rise jeans I wore today, for example, are a mix of our personal favorites. All of the pink denim pieces. Going with neon pink was all Inge’s idea, and at first, I was a bit reluctant, but now they’re probably my favorite pieces of the entire collection.”

When the collection is such a mix of two creative visions, how does that process go exactly?

I:   “I think it must be hard for a new designer. [Laughs]. I have been working with Tom (De Poortere) for over 15 years now, and everything goes really fast. We start from scratch together and work our way up really fast. With Rebekka, we work differently, there’s more structure. We give her the freedom to work, and then she presents her ideas and mood boards to us, and we go from there. What I love about her is the fact that Rebekka hasn’t got a big ego. [Laughs]. When I tell her I don’t like something, she takes it like a champ.”

R:   “I think you’re very good at giving opportunities. When I wanted to add the textured, perforated denim, for example. You weren’t sure of it, but gave me the benefit of the doubt.”

I:   “That’s the nice thing about a breath of fresh air, it forces everyone, including me, to take a look at things from another perspective.”

That breath of fresh air also meant reevaluating the production process of Essentiel Antwerp’s denim.

R:   “Starting with a new project is the perfect moment to put everything that goes along with it in question. You ask yourself where and how you can improve. It’s a challenge to change the conventional way of doing things, but now we’ve teamed up with a sustainable denim maker to make the production behind our denim pieces eco-responsible. It asks a bit more effort and energy from our end, but I’m thrilled that Inge and Esfan supported the importance of that decision.”

I:   “By changing manufacturers, we’ve made a first important step. It’s also what customers are asking for nowadays. Our goal is to become more eco-responsible at Essentiel Antwerp with a mix of both small and larger efforts. Our new denim manufacturer makes the production process behind our jeans more eco-responsible by reducing the amount of water, energy, chemicals, and natural gas they consume to produce a pair of jeans.”

What do you hope for the future?

I:   “To go even more sustainable.”

R:   “We are working in steps, it’s a holistic approach. But it would be great to take it further in the future. With eco-friendly fibers, packaging, …”

Being eco-responsible isn’t only on a company level, what can customers do themselves?

I:   “Don’t wash your jeans too often! Our jeans are already soft and are nicely washed. Plus, it’s more sustainable because you’ll save water and energy at home.”

R:   “Remember that jeans gets better with age. So buy quality items that will last longer. And if you do get tired of a style, hold on to them for when it gets back on trend in the future, swap with a friend, or get creative with customization.”





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