Next in our serie about the future heroes, Luc van Bemmel, with his own label SoulPrayKill; handmade custom clothing made to order. You name it, he'll make it.
Name: Luc van Bemmel
Age: 20 Instagram ID: @soulpraykill
Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what your connection with denim is?
I am a person who absolutely loves working with my hands to create something. When I started painting clothes at a young age, I found that shoes and leather wasn’t really for me. So I started experimenting with different surfaces and fabrics and ended up discovering that my specific paint worked really well on old jeans I had laying around. I decided to dive deeper into this unknown world of denim and realized that denim is so much more then what most people think. It’s strong, durable, warm, tough looking, unique and so widely used. I started focussing more on what people are wearing, and realized that a lot of people actually wear denim. Raw denim, stretch denim, shiny denim, waxed denim, coated denim. Not to mention all the different kinds of blue fades, each unique and each very pretty. This was the moment I realized I was very interested in denim and curious to learn a lot more.
When did you start working with Denim, why and where?
When I was 17 I discovered I could also create through fashion. I started painting old jeans from friends and did announcements on my social media that I would pick up everybody’s old jeans if they didn’t need it anymore. Soon painting evolved to sewing and I would borrow my mom’s sewing machine to customise my up-cycled jeans even further. My bedroom slowly turned into an atelier that was bursting with excitement and creativity. This organically grew into a strong love for making clothing with the focus on denim and before I knew it I was making everything from denim while also teaching myself how to sew better and make patterns. Studying and working at Denim City in Amsterdam seemed like a no brainer to me and I ended up falling in love with denim even more.
What did you work on last year?
The last year I’ve studied the International Jeans School at Denim City and dived head first into the world of denim, properly this time. Before that, everything from industry knowledge to pattern and sewing skills where self taught and improved by trial and error. Which was a great way to start and l learned a lot from my own mistakes. So this school and this year has really given me the opportunity to develop and polish all these skills. From learning for the first time how denim yarns are created and spun into fabrics, all the way to getting to know new washings techniques and machines that are a lot more sustainable. The school covered everything over the course of 1 intense year and forced me to work on pretty much everything within the spectrum of denim.
However, I made sure to spend enough time improving my sewing and pattern making/draping skills, since this will always be my favourite way of working with fashion and denim. Hands on, just bus with creating, feeling denim, washing tests, wearings tests and enjoying the process along the way.
You are selling through Instagram, how is that developing?
Out of everything that I do myself, from sewing, pattern making, designing, marketing, sales, keeping in touch with customers, branding etc.. I find marketing the most difficult and time consuming. I started on Instagram because I wanted to show people what I did, and it naturally grew into a platform where I could also sell my creations. I was so happy that people loved my work and would actually also buy it! But slowly I spend more and more time on Instagram keeping my account up to date, answering DM’s, preparing new post for the week, checking my statistics. It kinda made me move away more from the actual making, and designing new 'innovative' stuff.
So now, with the international course that is so time demanding, I didn’t had as much time to create and post it on my Instagram. I’ve put a lot of orders and customers on hold because of my school. I am right now slowly starting to post more and trying to get back into the 'Instagram cycle' so to say. But I’ve noticed that Instagram is moving into the direction of TikTok with short brainless video’s that keep people hypnotized on their phone. I will either have to adapt and start making short 'Instagram reel' video’s or I’ll have to accept that my growth won’t be the same - and a lot harder probably -because I keep posting photo’s instead of short video’s.
I have yet to decide what I really want.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently very focused on tech-wear that is very functional and serves the user. This can be easily implemented using denim, since you have so many coatings, special weavings-or blends that protect against the weather and will keep the user warm and dry. I am trying to bring the world of denim and the world of functional tech-wear (think Acronym, Stone Island, Arc’teryx, Snow Peak, Patagonia, North Face) together in my own special way.
What is the biggest achievement so far in your career?
If I had to choose I’d say my biggest achievement so far is that I have found something in my life that makes me truly happy and keeps me busy all day. I absolutely love creating clothing, from designing to construction and I am busy with it everyday. I’m slowly turning this passion of mine into a job that also makes me enough money to provide for myself, and that alone is already my biggest achievement and biggest blessing.
Is there someone/something that inspires you?
Free minded people that have a strong self sense and know what they want are always inspiring and reminds me that I should do the same and only focus on things that feel right and give me energy. As a result of that, my motivation and creativity will increase which will only lead to new and exciting projects and pieces.
On a creative basis, military and functional clothing have always inspired me. And finding that balance between functional and also 'fashionable' is a great challenge that keeps me busy. I prefer simplicity over craziness and that also seems to pair nice with functionality.
Can you describe your ultimate pair of jeans?
My ultimate pair of jeans is baggy pair, dark blue if not black, and durable. It sits nicely between my waist and hips and feels comfortable as if you’re wearing sweatpants. It combines aesthetic with functionality and can keep up with my daily activities without getting visible dirty or less appealing. It should be a lighter quality denim more towards 8 to 10 oz. that protects and covers your legs, rather then suffocates them with thick and strong rigid denim. But since not every pair of shoes or every occasion is suitable for baggy jeans, it should be able to adjust the width at the hem to change the silhouette.
How do you see your future the coming 5 years?
I have no clue. I’ll start a personal internship in London after the summer and maybe they’ll offer me a job afterwards. Or I’ll meet new exciting people and brands while in London where I might end up working. I am also still deciding wether or not I want to push my own brand further and make it more serious and a bit more commercial so I don’t have to work myself to death every month just to make enough money to live. I’m still young and there are still so many things I want to learn, see, and discover. So I'll try not to focus too much on the future and pin point and arrange everything, but just see where I will end up. I have found something I truly love and I’m in my flow and I believe that opportunities will appear naturally from there on.
Do you have a life slogan, or one that inspires you?
If it’s not nice, do it twice!
...or... If it doesn’t make you happy and excited, don’t do it.