When I first started lingerie blogging, Kriss Soonik was one of few indie designers I discovered and become immediately fascinated with. Her designs fit my lifestyle more than most: they’re fashion forward, comfortable and have a lingerie edge, but they can truly be worn as both innerwear and outerwear. As the proud owner of her signature Kristel Suspender Top, I can attest to their buttery softness and I will warn that these pieces will get more wear than you think (and Kriss is smart enough to anticipate this—behold the genius anti-pilling treatment)! The designer herself was kind enough to share her story, inspiration, tales of her native Estonia, favorite drinks and more with that je ne sais quoi readers, I hope you enjoy!
What or who inspired you to become a designer, and specifically a lingerie/loungerie designer?
To be honest with you, I have no idea. Design found me. It was more like fate, I would say. I helped my friend at a fashion competition in high school and thought to myself “I could do better than that. They need my ideas here,” so the following year I entered the competition and got to the finals. At first I was designing womenswear, but with my third collection I added some lingerie—and that’s when I found my passion.
You were one of the first designers I saw to execute the “loungerie” concept in an elegant way. What inspired it?
For us it was a typo by my photographer Kristel Raesaar. And it couldn’t have been at a better time! I was just searching our identity—what do we stand for? We’re not just lingerie, we’re not just loungewear but we were a bit of both. And then she showed me an image with Kriss Soonik Loungerie written on it. Bingo!
Your designs are some of the most unique, edgy and sophisticated I’ve seen on the lingerie market. How do you achieve this synergy? (It’s not easy to pull it off as well as you do!)
Thank you! The answer is probably that I just trust my instinct. I am not a trained designer so sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing but if I can imagine it, then it’s doable.
One of the first and coolest things I noticed about your brand is your exotic photo shoots. How do you scout locations? Is it carefully planned out or does it come on a whim?
It’s usually quite organic. We try to shoot as much as possible in Estonia, where I am from and where everything is manufactured. There are some strangest locations and even though I grew up there, they always surprise me with their beauty.
What is the inspiration behind your current collection, SS13?
It’s our sexiest collection to date with shocking pink lace and black fishnet. I never liked designing Summer collections; I’ve always loved Winters but Spring/Summer 13 changed it all. It didn’t really have one theme–it was more about bringing back colours and introducing new fabrics.
Your lingerie is designed, produced and finished your native county, Estonia – yes? How or why did you admirably decide to produce locally?
Yes, correct. For me, quality has always been the most important thing. When I found out that a lot of Scandinavian designers manufacture in Estonia, I was sold. They are known for their high quality standards and that is exactly what I needed. Plus, I love to support my small country and the support I get from my manufacturers in return as well is incredible.
Was there a moment you decided you wanted to start Kriss Soonik? We love these stories!
I’ve always known that I wanted to do my own thing, so to me it came quite naturally. But I did delay doing it full-time for quite long. I moved to London, graduated from MA at London College of Fashion, worked at lingerie companies Madame V and Agent Provocateur, and only then did I dive in full-time.
What is the Kriss Soonik woman like?
Fun, adventurous, not stuck in her age. Loves originality and quirkiness.
Every entrepreneur eventually has to take a leap of faith to start her own brand and business. What were your thoughts, fears and hopes when you finally decided to make your business idea a reality? Did you have any supporters and/or naysayers?
My family has always been the biggest supporter. There were enough naysayers, mainly people who already worked in the lingerie industry. I completely understand why they told me not to start my own brand—it’s super hard work. But they didn’t know one thing about me—this is what I love! If it were easy, anyone could do it.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (and from whom)?
“Everyone gets what he deserves” … from my father’s best friend.
What is your favorite part of the design process and why?
Thinking of the new collection, the colours, gathering inspiration–love that!
Where do you see yourself and your namesake brand in five years?
Any favorite music to listen to while you work (and favorite song of all time)?
The music changes all the time. But probably favourite song—Goldfrapp Number 1. It just has a very personal meaning.
Who are your style muses? How would you describe your “outerwear” style? Have any favorite brands?
My mum is my style muse for sure. My style is quite casual with quirky but subtle detailing (quite similar to my designs actually). My favourite shoe brand by far is Irregular Choice.
Which Kriss Soonik pieces do you own and wear most? What are the top three best sellers?
I own most pieces and wear them as part of my “outerwear” outfits. The one that I wear most are the Kristel Suspender Top, Susan Motion Lace body and Diana Wings wrap– these happen to also be our bestsellers.
From right: Susan Motion Body, Kristel Suspender Top and Gaia Wings Wrap (current version of Diana Wings Wrap)
What are your all-time favorite Kriss Soonik designs?
I love our velour wraps, I guess they still challenge me most.
What’s your favorite food? Signature cocktail?
I LOVE food, so anything really. But if I have to pick then maybe Indian cuisine.
I’m a wine girl.
Do you have any pets?
Not at the moment.
And most importantly, what’s in store for next season?!
We’re launching swimwear this spring – that’s the most exciting progress for me.
Thank you so much, Kriss! We’re looking forward to the swimwear launch and AW13! xo