PARIS FASHION WEEK
INTERVIEW WITH TOKEN PARIS
Radical chic girls gang
Let’s time travel in the glamorous 80’s with TOKEN. Elena and Nanjika (artistic directors) respectively from Brazil and french Caribbean met while studying at fashion school ESMOD in Paris. They teamed up with Marie (brand manager) to create TOKEN. Each of them bringing their own skills and approach of fashion design, with Marie the third member of Token taking care of the brand management. Their source of inspiration comes from pop icons such as Madonna, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury or Michael Jackson. Elena brought her taste for embroideries and creative textiles, thanks to her lingerie experience in Milan. Nanjika added graphic design and some obvious abilities for colourful prints to create the very unique Token’s signature. Deep red velvet, black lace, faux fur, leather : Token is without any doubt about textures, colors and rich details. A street and festive style for Spring/Summer 2018 presented at bar Les Ecuries during PFW.
Hi,Girls : on your site your bio says « the same idea with different backgrounds » can you explain us how you’ve decided to get together and start a brand ?
Three different point of view can also be the sum of three egos, no :-) !?
Nanjika : Elena and I met in our first year at ESMOD - Paris and immediately became great friends, we always used to say that we would create a brand together one day. As we got to know each other and our styles better, it always felt like we got each other inspirations and designs, even though we are very different. Our backgrounds and culture are quite similar but we can have different interpretations. And when we met Marie while starting defining the brand identity, we realized that we were very complementary to each other and with her the TOKEN crew was ready.
How do you live this relationship, how do you organize your creation process in between the two of you, how tasks are dispatched?
Elena : It's been a real dialogue, because of course at first when you create a brand with two designers, you can clearly see which pieces has been designed by one or the other. It took time to truly find the balance between our different styles and this has evolved with the influence that we have on each other. After three collections now, we feel like this symbiosis is real and TOKEN is one entity by itself.
Marie : For each new collection, the first inspirations & drafts always come from Nanjika and Elena because of their energy and ability to find crazy stories at the start of each new collection is limitless ! It is a key point that they have that moment to focus on their creativity. Then we make a first meeting where they expose the concept and the first pieces. In the end, the collection plan is really coming from the three of us, when I share my inputs and how we, as a team, can come up with TOKEN's signature.
What’s your expectations about this presentation during the PFW ?
Marie : PLEASURE.
The one we take working with our collaborators and the pleasure people have when they come to our presentations. We want people to have fun and enjoy, and not just be there to watch clothes. We think our events as an experience that mixes music/fashion and more and more other domains.
But that's a surprise for our next presentation in March ;)
Fashion is about human relationships and how you want people to feel in your clothes and around you in general : other designers that we want to team up with, our friend and stylist for PFW events Cem Cinar, MUA & hair stylist, models/muses who inspire us, musicians & artists we love to dress up, friends, family & personalities who support us, in that sense we're very lucky!
Elena : We were so happy to hear people say at our presentation that they had so much more fun than in a classic runway ! (even more than at our own, last March, to be honest :p)
Marie, have you considered the idea of making a fashion show instead of a presentation one day in Paris or elsewhere? Is that a goal for you, or do you consider that it is possible for a brand to exist and progress without magnificents, but costly shows?
Marie : Our first big event during PFW was actually a fashion show at La Folie, a club in La Villette. Of course we couldn't help throwing a big after party right after the show, with the DJs Bamao Yende and Demian and the help of our friends from the Mermaid Express collective.
We love to think of new formats to present our collections. So we did a runway, a "presentation", and for next season we're working on a totally new format !
As a young brand of course it is super important to have events during fashion week and throughout the year, it's the perfect way to meet many more people, grow your visibility, and to have cool content.
It's true that the cost is always what comes up as a barrier to do so. But if you know how to surround yourself and your brand with great people who are enthusiastic about your projects, there is no limit to your creativity!.. At least as long as your creativity doesn't involve installing water falls or a space rocket in Le Grand Palais ! lol
The team of Les Écuries, the bar where we did our SS18 presentation was absolutely amazing, and we get great support also from people who are not in the fashion industry and who make those events possible !
You are both coming from a tropical background : Brazil and French Carribbean in what does it have any influence on your creative choices, if it is?
Nanjika : Definitely, Elena and I have a like-minded understanding of things that you only can understand when you are from a tropical place, lol !
We both have families who have rich cultures and who have always had a big influence on our inspirations and therefore us. For example the 80's vibe is from our parents, with the music they played at home, and artists they loved. We also love to pull out photos of our mothers in their high waist jeans with our hippy dads. We were brought up with these influences and that is one of the biggest things we have in common.