From Wanderlust to Wearable Art: Jeanne de Kroon of ZAZI Couture

Join Jeanne de Kroon of ZAZI COUTURE as she talks about her travels, turning a passion into a global brand, creativity and sourcing the world’s best artisans for her collections. We had a chat and loved wearing her coat.

IRMA: You once said that the most powerful thing about clothing is the connection you have with it and the memory it creates.
JEANNE DE KROON: I think if you ask any woman in the world what her favourite piece of clothing is in her wardrobe, you’ll see her eyes light up and she’ll tell you a story about how she’s collected memories that are connected to her heart. The ongoing conversations about sustainability seem so complicated to me when the answer is so simple: it’s about reconnecting.
For me, the connection with our clothes comes when we give it value. It is our mother’s scarf, the dress we found in a small alleyway, made by a woman we could look into the eyes on our holidays. The fashion industry once started on this basis. We used to know who made everything we wore, before supply chains became so global and the hands behind them so invisible.
Clothing has always been a creation of what happens when women come together and create in collaboration with community and culture. Somewhere along the line we lost the connection to the process of creation. We don’t know the hands that embroidered our clothes, or how long it took for the beautiful cotton flowers to emerge from the soil beneath our feet.
For me, ZAZI is a love letter to that process and an ode to the women who are still so intimately involved in what makes fashion so fabulous. I’ve never been much of a designer, but coming from an old Dutch weaving family, ZAZI was a way to weave these stories back into the global luxury industry, as it reopened my heart to the essence of creation and what it means to be a woman who expresses and connects with everything around her.

Jeanne de Kroon of ZAZI COUTURE


IRMA: How did you experience your first trips to India and how did this experience merge with what you studied at university? Can you tell us about this turning point?
JEANNE DE KROON: I grew up in The Hague in the Netherlands and originally applied to law school to find a more structured life. It was a bit of an antidote to having two parents who worked in the arts. My mother was an art historian turned fashion journalist and my father made documentaries about the magic of Dutch light in 17th century painters. I quickly realised that this was not my path and left for Paris to become a street musician and had a brief and unsuccessful modelling career in New York.
Arriving in Berlin at the age of 19, I enrolled in Philosophy and Political Science, feeling rather lost in that world. During one of my semester breaks, I found myself in a small Nepalese alleyway, where a woman came up to me and started talking vividly about handicrafts with the most sparkling eyes. She was talking about the mountains, about weaving and connection, and for some reason it lit up a part of me that just thought this was the answer to so many big questions I was asking myself. There was feminism in it, a return to the earth as the basis of creation, and a lot of beauty that was unseen in a larger economic system. It led to a path of travelling extensively whenever I got the chance to connect with these women who were still creating in the way they learned from their mothers. The diversity of culture, thought and beauty was something that opened my eyes.

IRMA: How did you take your business from small to the next level? What was your learning process?
JEANNE DE KROON: When I started ZAZI, I was a young student with absolutely no training in entrepreneurship or structure. I invested a few hundred euros in some clothes with a small handicraft project in India and went back to Berlin. At the time, a local agency called PRAG PR discovered us, we started Instagram and within a few months I had many more dresses that I was shipping out of my bedroom. I have to say that the journey of scaling a concept that works without factories, but with a network of rural women and the seasons of this earth, is still something that is challenging. It requires meticulous planning and organisation, and that was the first thing I had to learn in my twenties. I had to learn about finance, marketing, ethical supply chains, global living wages and build a framework that had no ‘business plan’. I truly believe that starting a business is like creating a soul contract for personal growth. The business always responds to the fine line of being in my power and comfort, but also challenging me to be uncomfortable and learn new things that I have always resisted, like structure.

Jasmin Khezri from IRMASWORLD wearing a ZAZI Couture Indira coat

IRMA: You use a lot of vintage fabrics, where else do you get your inspiration?
JEANNE DEKROON: Ah, the list is endless! I am inspired by the world every day. I am enchanted by incredible Ottoman antiques, Indian miniatures, but also literature on archaeomythology and ancient goddess traditions. Sometimes it’s the stories of my friends who are indigenous leaders and have supported the rise of their community, but it’s also the little moment in the villages when some of the weavers sing their songs in the rain as an ode to their ancestors as they gather the plants for our natural dyes. I am inspired by the depth of colour that this life has to offer and the cultures that have tried to capture the essence of life in the mystical.

IRMA: Your brand has gained a lot of popularity through social channels, how has this inspired and helped you build your business? How do you make Instagram work for you?
JEANNE DE KROON: We are still working on it! We are now investing in advertising for the first time and have a real online strategy. In the early years of ZAZI, my whole business plan was pure intuition and a bit of crisis management hihi.

Jasmin Khezri from IRMASWORLD wearing a ZAZI Couture Indira coat


IRMA: Your travels are always an inspiration for your next collection. How can a journey bring it all together and how do you bring order and structure to what you see and what you create from it?
JEANNE DE KROON: Absolutely. It always starts with a connection to the land. I recently went to Peru and in those moments I love to spend time learning and listening. I visited the local weaving communities, learned about the needs of the region, visited the alpaca shepherds and the biodiversity they nurture, and then I visited as many cultural centres and artisan collectives as I could and collected books to educate myself.
Then, through ZAZI, we connect with the collectives that already have something set up for international collaboration and find local women who can organise practical things and help with cross-cultural collaboration. It can take two years from that first moment of connecting with a place to actually co-creating a collection. Sometimes I wish I had a better way to explain all the work and love that goes into our creations. It’s endless WhatsApp conversations with our team and mothers breastfeeding during meetings, showing us the natural dyes that grow seasonally, and a lot of great planning skills.


IRMA: With your concept of artisanal, handmade garments, you not only support local artisans, but also inspire women in the western world to push their creativity. How important is it to work and live creatively?
JEANNE DE KROON: I love this question so much! Yes, I believe that every woman has a creative genius & muse that resides within her. It may look different than what we perceive as purely creative, but we are by nature the source of creation itself.
For me, creativity is found in a connection to the present. It is in the way we dress with intention, in the way we carefully curate our homes as love letters to those we nurture, in the way we pay attention to detail and in our ability to think beyond the linear. In a world that now mostly values the linear, the numbers, the productivity of ‘doing’, getting back to our creative nature and seeking freedom beyond the lines is exactly what we need most in these times. To look at this world with enchantment, to take space to breathe and dance in a world that runs so fast and to create new perspectives is what makes us fundamentally human. The climate crisis we now face is a crisis of connection and I believe the answers will become clear once we pause, connect with our creativity and remember what it means to co-create with this life in all its beauty.