The team at KASSL Editions takes color seriously. A recent back and forth between Bart Ramakers and Ilse Cornelissens, two of the brand’s founders, about shades of green spanned emails and phone calls.“Ilse has been sending me pictures of green frogs for the last three weeks,” Ramakers tells me over a call from Amsterdam where he’s based.
It’s this eye for precision and commitment to their own voice that drew ASICS to KASSL Editions for the second partnership in its Crafts for Minds program, which draws attention to the craftsmanship that goes into creating long-lasting products and the mental well-being that comes from practicing a craft. ASICS has long championed the correlation between mental and physical health with its philosophy, "Sound Body, Sound Mind" and this micro collection of 30 GEL-1090 sneakers will be raffled by END. with all proceeds donated to Mind. Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, whilst simultaneously campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding around mental health. They also run Side by Side, a community safe space where anyone aged 18 and over with experience of a mental health problem can share their story and connect with others.
Although ASICS reached out to KASSL Editions for the project, the Dutch brand's story doesn’t actually have anything to do with footwear, but instead, with an oiled fisherman’s cotton that Ramakers encountered on a visit to New York City. He called Cornelissens, wondering "Do I have something here, do we have something here?" She thought they did. So he brought the coat back with him to Europe where he, along with Cornelissens and her husband Tim van Geloven, began to ruminate. They joined forces with designer Camille Serra and thus KASSL Editions took off.
The coat and all it represented to them—craftsmanship, heritage, simplicity, functionality—served as their North Star. They sourced an oil-coated fabric in Milan and started producing coats out of a utility factory in Kassel, Germany—hence the name. They added ‘Editions’ because they “don’t really want to be limited to anything.”
This come-what-may-attitude is as evident in the brand’s founding as it is in its current state. KASSL Editions considers itself a creative collective and when talking to Cornelissens and Ramakers it’s obvious ideas flow freely between them. The brand's first offerings were a series of coats in its trademark oiled fabric that felt like classics honed for a modern context. Since then, it has expanded to include more coats, a series of bags, furniture, and now sneakers. But, Cornelissens insists: “After four years, it's still all about our oil fabric.”
This is why when ASICS tapped the brand to work on a special project with a limited number of sneakers to be raffled to support Mind, they reached for the material they know best. KASSL Editions' take on the GEL-1090 sees the upper shielded almost entirely with bunched oil fabric in a bright green and a clean white. A drip effect runs along the border of the midsole. Cloaking the sneakers in oil fabric provides something of a barrier against the elements: “Protect your mind, protect your shoe, protect yourself,” Cornelissens explains.
Protection was an apt metaphor for the project. It’s a theme that permeates much of ASICS’ philosophy and carries through to this campaign with the help of Hannelore Knuts, a Belgian model who works at the intersection of mindfulness and fashion. As a friend of the collective, she’s joined this project to bring her expertise on mental health and how it pertains to the fast-paced fashion world. KASSL Editions has always called on its extensive network for collaborations and Knuts’ addition to the project felt like a no-brainer.
As for themselves, both Cornelissens and Ramakers carve space in their busy schedules to make time for themselves and their families. They find it important to constantly push each other in directions of growth. It’s this collective spirit so central to KASSL Editions that has allowed it to flourish: “We really do work together so creatively and we always have time for discussions about colors of green.”