Fashion / Feature

Renaissance man: designer Sander Lak on the many colours of Sies Marjan

“Where does the rainbow end, in your soul or on the horizon?” –  Pablo Neruda

If we looked inside of Sander Lak, founder and designer of Sies Marjan, we’d likely find colour running through his veins. His creations are conjured using clever cuts of luxurious fabrics dyed in the most vibrant of hues. Wearing his pieces might be the closest you could get to living inside a James Turrell installation – and we’d bet they have the same mood enhancing qualities. At Net-A-Porter’s recent bi-annual trend presentation, we sat down with Lak and he told us about being a man without a muse, a citizen of the world in the truest sense, and having his ardent blue eyes fixed firmly on his brand’s future.

When starting Sies Marjan, the emerging designer didn’t have a calculated business plan. Rather it began in a moment when everything just felt right. “It was very unplanned,” he said. “But it was kind of something that I’ve always wanted to do. I went into my masters thinking I’d start my own label, this was back in 2006 … I ended up working for a lot of different companies for eight or nine years. All of a sudden something felt like it had to change again. I happened to be in New York, and it was sort of like a crossroads moment. And then I just jumped on board and said let’s do it …” The brand may be New York native, but for Lak himself, the journey began far from the Big Apple. “I’m Dutch originally,” he told us. “I was born in Brunei, lived in Malaysia, Africa, Scotland. But my teenage years were in Holland and then I went to St Martins in London. Then my first job was in New York, and second job in Paris, I then went to Belgium and then back to New York. So that’s it in a nutshell.”

As for the muse behind the brand, there isn’t one. “Now the world has opened up, this idea of a person embodying a brand doesn’t fit the times anymore,” he said. The term muse is not one that fits within the aesthetic of the brand, instead he thinks in terms of “a mentality or a free spirited person, it’s not even a man or a woman – it’s a person that can embody Sies Marjan but it’s not a person who represents it. That’s what is quite hard about castings or campaigns. It’s hard to limit it to one type of person. When you look at our casting in our show, without being forceful, it’s about a very diverse cast of people because it’s the idea of mentality to be this person, or a want to be this person.”

Browsing his collection on Net-A-Porter, which he calls “an amazing partnership”, Lak’s enthusiasm for colour becomes apparent. The Peyton Top is a prime example. A turtle neck, perfect for embracing tie-dye’s current resurgence, made from a stretchy satin in vibrant rainbow hues and finished with daubs of iridescent glitter – it might not be for the wallflower but it’s sure to improve your mood (and everyone else’s you meet while wearing it). The house has recently launched their first full Men’s collection, and over at to Mr. Porter the colours shine just as bright. The Bas Sweater is one of our favourites, an oversized boucle rollneck made from a luxurious blend of mohair and wool, pushed to the brightest shade of blue. Gift it to somebody special, or keep it for yourself, it’s just that good.

Although for Lak, a modern renaissance man, the clothes are just the beginning. “There is so many things we could do with the DNA of Sies Marjan,” he muses. “I think there’s something there where we build up the foundation with womenswear, and now with menswear which is growing a lot and then the shoes – we are going into all these different categories. It’s nice to go beyond clothes. I always dreamed of having a bookshop. It would be great to do a curation of books, furniture and wallpaper. I really love this idea of Sies Marjan becoming a brand that is about a lifestyle, even if you just sell clothes, it’s about a lifestyle too, but to extend to all those categories would be amazing.”