Esther Zahn is from Berlin and is living together with her seven year old daughter in a multigenerational house in Mitte. The whole family meets here: Her uncle, aunts, sister, parents, and soon Esther’s niece as well. They are all supporting each other, there is always someone around to ask for help, and anybody who prefers to be by themselves for a while can do so any time. This is rather unusual in a metropolis like Berlin where it is common to barely know your neighbors.
But who knows, maybe this is the trend of the future?! We would not be surprised since Esther Zahn is a careful observer, a creative and an individual character and enjoys thinking outside of the box. The educated fashion designer dislikes lifeless uniformity as much as we do and is also showing this with her designs: rainbow warriors is one of the most creative children’s fashion labels we know of. Sparkling rain jackets, shirts, or backpacks made with fluorescent prints or incorporated LEDs – combined in a minimalistic design! Beauty and utility merged together.
We met the exceptionally creative Esther and asked her the most important questions. Find out in this interview how her label rainbow warriors is connected to the avant-garde band “CocoRosie” and why Esther has always done her own thing.
Esther Zahn © Kirsten Becken
Esther, how would you describe yourself in a few sentences?
At first, I am usually a bit quieter, but observe everything very carefully. I would probably be able to find a needle in a haystack. I like it when every day is different. And I enjoy learning new things day by day. I know what I want and I am not afraid to express this, I can be stubborn, even if it doesn’t work out right away. I realize my visions. My daughter is very proud of me, I think that’s amazing.
Is there any specific piece of clothing that was particularly important for you during your childhood, something that you keep remembering? Maybe a piece of clothing that has its own special story?
The first Levi’s I owned was violet. I was wearing it until it broke down completely when I was wearing it for the first time to school. My classmate asked me: “Is it regular or irregular?” Of course it was irregular. Afterwards I thought: “Pff, why should I care about branded clothing” and from then on I did my own thing. For example I had a red sweater with a picture of a circus horse on it. Its mane and tail were made from strings that you could play with – I thought that was amazing. I think I was around 13 years old back then. My friends were dressing much more mature. I didn’t care about that – I always did my own thing.
This is how clothing is being created © Esther Zahn
rainbow warriors is definitely not how you would imagine a classic children’s fashion label. What’s special about rainbow warriors?
Fabrics and clothes are very haptic. When I started to work with special materials, my fellow students often came and asked if they could touch my designs. Maybe you know the feeling when you see something and you get the urge to feel and touch it? In my opinion, this urge is particularly strong during the childhood. I think my designs are very sensorial. They address several senses at the same time and surprise the children. Our items glow in the dark, reflect light, change their colors, and you are even able to make music with some of my high-tech designs!
organic backpack by rainbow warriors – reflecting and glow in the dark © Kirsten Becken
How did you come up with using LEDs and reflecting materials for your clothing line?
I’m always intrigued by new thing, why would you create another glitter jeans when there are already thousands and you have the possibility to do something different? My art academy provided the opportunity to develop new electronic fabrics together with the Frauenhofer Institute. I was the first fashion designer that was brave enough to try this out. There I also developed the first sensory “sound fabric” and the “LED-Mohair-Cloth”.
Digitalization of fabrics allows us to think about fashion in completely different ways. And I’m not talking about any fitness tracker. Imagine my jacket could talk to your sweater or they could create music together. That’s truly amazing!
Esther´s working space © Esther Zahn
Have you always created children’s fashion? How did that start?
After my daughter’s birth I started to have flashbacks of my own childhood. When I listened to the song Rainbow Warriors by Coco Rosie I knew – wow, I will choose the rainbow warriors who change the world with their love and curiosity as my final thesis topic.
What’s the story behind the poetic label name “rainbow warriors”? How did you come up with that name?
That’s the myth of the rainbow warrior.
Pepe&Nika: We recommend anybody who would like to get to know more about this myth of the rainbow warrior to research online starting.
glow in the dark leggings and longsleeve by rainbow warriors © Kirsten Becken
Where do your fabrics come from, how and where are they being produced?
I am only using organic cotton. The material for our rain coats is from Switzerland, the organic cotton from the USA. The sweatshirt fabrics are from turkey and are GOTS certified. The sewing and printing is made in Germany.
How do you get your ideas, what inspires you?
I think it’s my curiosity, but I don’t know how my ideas get into my head. I observe the world and think ah, this or that is still missing and it would be great.
Where will rainbow warriors be in 3 years?
In all forests and parks of the world and I hope that they will cross my path every time it rains.
Which children’s fashion label inspires you or seems interesting to you?
Hmm….. I think baby Degen from New York is pretty cool. They have these sweaters with an eye embroidery pattern.
Please complete the sentence: “Kids are great, because…“
… they are not too embarrassed to ask if they don’t know or don’t understand something.
… there are plenty of reasons to laugh.
… they show their emotions and are not hiding them..
glow in the dark outfit by rainbow warriors © Detlev Schneider
Dear Esther, we would like to thank you very much for the beautiful interview and that we had the pleasure to get to know you and your fashion label. Certainly, our paths will cross again. We wish you all the best for the future and we are sure, that we are going to hear, read, see and especially EXPERIENCE more of rainbow warriors.