Valentine is the founder of her eponym fashion brand specialized in knitwear collections for women. Designed in Belgium (Brussels), made in Portugal.
year of birth: 1988
current residence: Brussels
started in 2016
Where did it all begin?
Since my youngest age, I’ve always wanted to launch my own clothing brand. When I returned from Milan where I studied, I did an internship at SMETS, a luxury concept store in Brussels and Luxembourg. After the internship I was hired to work in their Marketing and Communication team. After two years I left to start as a freelancer. I did a few missions left and right without thinking about launching my brand. After a year, I really experienced a revelation: I decided to create sweaters. For my part, I felt like I couldn’t find any exceptional sweaters on the market at a good price. It’s a product that we wear almost nine months a year in Belgium so I thought it was something interesting to look into deeper.
One thing led to another, I came across an Italian production agent who helped me find a factory suited to my needs and launch my first collection made up of six sweaters in one size in 2015. Since 2017, our production needs led us to Portugal.
Five years later, we propose collections composed of up to forty items, ranging from sweaters to dresses and skirts. This upcoming Fall/Winter 22 collection, we are introducing a shirt collection.
What is the worst advice you’ve heard?
This is a hard one, but I’d say “Go all out”.
You have to think the opposite way: go little by little to build strong foundations and then start thinking about development. Baby steps allow you to minimize potential risk and to adapt your direction if needed. Launching a business takes time, and you need to make the best out of every moment, even more when you’re a new/small business.
Since then, the best advice I’d give to someone is “take your time, Rome wasn’t built in a day!”. (laughs)
Most beautiful moment during the creative process?
For me, it is more after the creative process: when we receive the first prototypes. It’s the first time your collection becomes real, takes shape and becomes a whole. It’s an important moment in the post-creative process when you truly visualize the collection. At this stage, you can evaluate its coherence, notice a potential lack of product(s), build the whole story of the collection and think about the upcoming shootings to express the collection at its best. I love when it becomes concrete and palpable, before getting into the creative process of the next season.
What doesn’t inspire you?
I love that question! I like thinking the opposite way.
Most interviewers ask “what inspires you?”, and to be honest, it’s always the question I don’t like to answer. Maybe because I find all the answers too similar?
So, what doesn’t inspire me? Trends in general, that I find too marketing oriented.
I dress for myself, I wear what I want to wear in the way I want to wear it. I won’t follow or be inspired by a trend because the other big players decided to make you believe in it and to make you consume it.
Same goes for our collections, we don’t follow hype trends. We offer collections that last through seasons and don’t go obsolete the season after. By the way, trend isn’t a synonym for good taste, far from that!
What are you proud of?
The work we accomplished in six years.
Amazing international retailer relations such as Samaritaine, The Webster and Ssense.
Seeing Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid wearing our clothes.
Our amazing team.
Who would you like to meet or who would you like to work with?
Pieter Mulier is one of the designers I admire the most, he’s so inspiring and is taking Alaia to the next level. I like his understanding and sense of beauty and femininity, which Azzedine was also known for.
My absolute dream: a campaign with Laetitia Casta. She’s everything!
Unsurprisingly: cashmere. But unfortunately, it’s too expensive to work with, as the final price would be too expensive for our clientele.
The material I would never work with: angora or other types of furs. I’m super against material that doesn’t one hundred percent respect animal rights.
What would you have done, if not this?
I would have loved to be a celebrity stylist, but unfortunately it is an almost nonexistent job in Belgium. (laughs)
When was your biggest moment of doubt?
End of 2018. It was the only down moment I had since the beginning of Valentine Witmeur Lab.
Our brand was already well established in Belgium but I was a bit frustrated that it didn’t go bigger, more international. I had a strange feeling of stagnancy and wanted more for our brand. Of course, I knew settling a brand took time, but I was hoping and waiting for a springboard that could offer us full exposure.
Who is your biggest supporter?
Family and clients of course, we wouldn’t be here without them.
What is to you, the most beautiful sentence?
It’s not especially beautiful but is true: “It is never too late to be what you might have been”.
What do you still want to do?
Learn more languages, especially Spanish. Every time I come back from my summer holidays in Ibiza, I tell myself that I have to speak Spanish better. I still haven’t forced myself and taken the time to do it, but I think this time is the good one, I already started to look for a teacher!
Where do you work?
We work from our Brussels office, a beautiful maison de maître in Etterbeek.
Want to see more of Valentine’s work?