To remain yourself in an industry that constantly forces to commercial thinking. The Belgian storyteller Ruth Trioen (34) is doing with her own fashion label Johny Be Good. A conversation about authenticity and passion: ‘I sometimes wonder whether I am too sensitive for this hard business.’
A woman with golden-brown, shining hair and black silk blouse comes for me to sit in Take Five, a jazzkoffiebar in the Ghent Volderstraat. “I had you in a white dress expects’, I notice when I give her just a little too late to recognize if Ruth Trioen (34), the lady behind the Belgian fashion brand Johny Be Good. “I have long doubted’, she laughs indulgently, ” I like to wear and often make my own clothing, but I also want to no signboard for myself. That seems so… perfect.’
A few days before our conversation, there is a package in the mailbox with a handwritten message of Ruth. “I’m yours. Love me but leave me of wild, curls her handwriting. The fashion label of Ruth sells white oversized shirts that poetic texts in the black embroidered. The odds – Shake me don’t break me, Love me tender, Don’t look back and Cross My Heart are handwritten by illustrator, Axelle Zwartjes.
Start with a blank sheet, and the Golden Guide
The finished product looks nice. It is the result of a long search. Ruth literally started with a blank sheet and no contacts in the fashion world: “I’m just through the yellow pages, browsed to search for the different productietussenpersonen in Belgium.’ Yet during our whole conversation consistently refuse to make themselves a designer mentioned: ‘I signed the vests yourself. I have a fellow designer under the arms. Him I have my vision explained.’
A private label run is a constant growing process, Ruth explains. Always look for details that they can improve. Sustainability is the most important: “I have everything checked whether it is ethical and eco-friendly. But I hammer anyway, at that the shirts can long wear. For me that is also a form of sustainable thinking: sell something that people the following summer should not throw it away. Therefore, I will never participate in solden. I have a timeless item.”
Women with soul
After 2016 ‘Just Kids‘ had read the autobiographical book by singer Patti Smith, was Ruth, the inspiration for her own collection: ‘If I like someone for me to see that my clothes are wearing, then it is Patti. She is my muse. I love her troubled, mystical personality: a bit of rock and roll, and a lot of passion.’
‘Everyone wants to be desired. Young or old, all people have passion in their life need to feel that they live’
Ruth Trioen, the woman behind Johny Be Good
The word has fallen: passion. Johny Be Good, is made for women with soul. Women who are corrupted by the search for freedom, but still fire. In terms of love, they know not abstinence, only blunt recklessness and frantic search. They confront their demons. Their heart is an open wound, is delicate. They can’t help it, they believe in love. It brings them always back to home, wherever that is.
“I think all women can identify with the message that I uitdraag,’ says Ruth, ‘Johny Be Good is about temperament, but also about sensitivity. About sometimes your heart too much to follow and in the wrong relationship and end up. That is a universal feeling. Everyone knows heartbreak. Everyone knows what it is to want what you can’t get. Everyone wants to be desired. Young or old, all people have passion in their life need to feel that they are living.’
Or Ruth herself is a muse for its own brand, leave them in the middle. ‘Actually’, do they, ‘although I find myself not good enough for that.’ She is silent for a moment. Drink of her cup of tea. “I’m not the type of person that a lot in her life’, container they eventually together. Ruth certainly don’t want the patron saints of the broken souls, or broken hearted romantiseren. She embraces precisely those dark urges, sees it as a secret weapon, that strength and energy can give. Hence, the typical heart on the sleeve. ‘Wearing your heart on your sleeve’ smiles Ruth. The small detail is the logo of Johny Be Good that it returns on each dress.
Gently I ask her to copycats. Because a white dress with black text, is in principle easy to do, I notice. “That is my biggest fear, nods them self-conscious, ‘It’s also been several times reported that friends send me photos of shop windows of large chains with similar designs. Never comes close to what I do. I’m still not collapsed at the sight of possible copies. I am very rational. You can never know for sure if people are using your work already know. I am someone who is very optimistic thinking. I want to believe in the value of creativity. Still, I keep my heart fixed.’ Ruth laughs: ‘I sometimes wonder whether I am too sensitive for this hard business.’
Storytelling is more important to me than a lot of sales. Of course you want to make a profit, but your story must first knock
Ruth Trioen, the woman behind Johny Be Good
It’s right, Ruth: nowadays, you can see a lot of sweaters and T-shirts with texts. Often it remains on the surface. Johny Be Good choose for depth. Her philosophy, sounds Ruth determined, competitors may never copy. Storytelling is more important than the commercial aspect for Ruth. ‘I’m not doing this for them to live’, says she, ‘I have my other job for. I should me able to enjoy. Of course it is nice if you have good sells. You should also be able to invest. But that is not the main goal. This is what I love to do. I walk constantly around with Johny in my head. When I’m in bed, I think about it, in order to fall asleep. It feels so natural. It is a bit like a love affair. I don’t know if I still would like to do if I could feel to get profit out of store.’
The future Ruth is very uncertain: “I have always said that I true want to stay on the shirt. But of course, you are quickly very limited. Now I tasted, I do want other stuff to release. Perfume is such a dream project. I can restart a whole story around build.’ Also, she thinks after about a collection for men: “I’m often asked about. Provisionally, I don’t know whether it is a permanent piece would be. It should be a complement to the existing item.’ She drinks for a while from her cup of tea, looks aside and says: ‘I just don’t want that now, it all stops. I want to do. Still need to do a lot.’
From Los Angeles to Antwerp, around the world you see people, their expressions of love for the unique bodices of Johny Be Good. ‘Quite surreal’ admits Ruth. Still grew her following very organically: “I often get emails from bloggers asking me to be paid to make promotion for my brand. I have a sharp feel to it. I need to feel the love and do not want the shirts to throw away after a time something about posted on social media. I want to see that they really wear. That they live in. She managed to love.’
One of the people who live in them and love is journalist Britt Valkenborghs: “I’m a big fan of Patti Smith, so it clicked right away. It is a very passionate piece of clothing. I wear the shirt very often, and show that also on my Instagram. I do sincerely to Ruth as a small entrepreneur to support. I love how authentic she is. Her morality is beautiful, that I want to convey.’
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People like Britt, who without any context just fall in love with the brand and it is not necessary that they have a hundred thousand followers, or well-known people of her clothing to wear, are the largest opstekers for Ruth. “Because their love is sincere,’ said she, ‘And that is what I ultimately wanted to achieve: a love of fire. You have to love it. It must have something with you to do.”
And it does a lot with people. Not crazy, because everything in this conversation that Ruth sell emotion than clothing. “That’s always been the intention'”, smiled she, ” But I never thought that it would succeed. Sometimes I believe it yet, then I think that everyone is suddenly going to realize that it all won’t do much good.’
You can the collection of Johny Be Good to view and place orders on the website of the label. The vests cost 130 euro.