Talking Rener: An interview with founder Signe Christensen
Who are you?
Signe Christensen, I am the founder and designer of RENER.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Aalborg, a mid size town in the north of Denmark. It is a pleasant place but did not have the exciting fashion forward energy I was seeking. I was always dreaming of living in London one day so It is great to be surrounded by so much creative buzz in East London.
Did you always want a career in fashion?
Ever since I was 8 years old I have known what I wanted to do. I was very inspired by sewing and interested in making a garment fit perfectly. Ultimately my wardrobe was very eclectic.
As a child I was always fascinated by the shape and form, constantly sketching and drawing ball gowns. My parents have been fantastic to recognise my interest at an early age taking me to events & shows whenever possible.
What did you study at school?
Following high school I moved to Copenhagen to study at the Scandinavian Academy of Fashion Design. This was a fantastic learning curve into technical process of tailoring. I think having this knowledge can really help set you apart from other designers. After graduating in Copenhagen I moved to London to study Fashion Sportswear at The London College of Fashion.
What was your first job? and how did it shape your career?
I started as an intern at the British sportswear brand Crewroom during my final year at college and I was able to continue full time after I graduated. I was very lucky to get into a small brand at the time because It really allows you to get stuck into all stages of the design and production process. It was a very inspiring place to work, everyone there were super focused on moving the brand forward.
How did Rener start?
After working in many different areas of the fashion industry I felt more than ever that there was a need for something more purposeful. I was fed up by trend and fashion seasons and the overriding feeling that fashion is disposable.
My mum was always pushing me to launch my own thing but I felt like it truly had to be relevant before I would be dedicated to the subject. There is so much already out there so I found it difficult to identify what to focus on. I went back to basics, that no matter what, everyone needs a good coat. A coat to be proud about, that lasts. That started the whole thing.
Did you start everything by your self?
Far from it. I have always had a massive amount of support from my family. I could never have done it without them believing in me and encouraging me.
When I told them I was going to create RENER they wanted to be involved from the start. It has been a family business ever since. We all have different strengths, my parents and sister’s guidance on financial matters have been a life saver!
I also have some super supportive friends and my boyfriend who pretty much have to live the brand with me, they are a great inspiration and never stop believing in me. That is the stuff that keeps you going.
What is your average working day like?
My work day is quite flexible. I love the freedom to go for a run in the middle of the day or work remotely at my own leisure. I was working freelance before I started RENER and it is a lifestyle the suits me very well.
I get up and sit like a zombie on the sofa and drink no less than 2 cups of tea, otherwise I just don´t function. The morningsare primarily email, PR and research, the afternoons for errands, design, sewing, pattern cutting and of course meeting clients.
My work day usually ends when my boyfriend comes home, I am very aware that I need to switch off and that he never asked to live in a start up studio.
What advise would you give to your college self?
Don´t worry, it will be OK! and yes, at times you will fail, but you will come back stronger . Nothing is what you imagine, just be brave and trust in your self.
You are dyslexic. Recognising this earlier in my education may have made life a whole lot easier.
If you could not be in the job you have now what would you be doing instead?
This is something I have discussed with my friends a lot and I almost sure that it would not be fashion, unless it was a brand that really had a purpose I believed in, that made a difference. I like the idea of creating the space suit of the future for NASA.
Who inspires you?
Top 5 list of inspirational people.
Gabrielle Chanel: Such a ground breaker.
Garance Doré: Her blog kept my dreams going.
My mother: She is just great.
Beyoncé or Tina Turner: They both kick ass.
Elisabeth Gilbert: Her books really made an impression.
What is the best advise you have ever had?
My parents are both filled with endless (and hilarious) wisdom but my mum once said to me that nothing has to be perfect and if something turns out in a different way than expected, I should consider it a gift. Keeping this is mind has made my design process much more open-minded. I try to recognise when to stop and be happy with what I have made. The sooner you can do this the sooner you can release it to others and I can move on to the next!