Lisa and Jessica Kistermann seemed destined to become the dynamic duo they are today.
Born and raised in Florence, Italy, the twin sisters come from multicultural roots that extend back to German and Greek ancestry. Since a young age, the girls were active in their own world, considering themselves “a handful” among their peers.
Their education was comprehensive. They attended the American School of Florence until they were 17. They described the learning environment as intensely diverse, with an oscillating student body from all around the world. There, you never saw the same face twice.
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Their perceptiveness was credited to the early days of their education, which they say encouraged them to, “create a strong community embracing each other’s differences.” They recalled their school as something of a safe space, which helped them grow in areas of personal development, before the days of the world wide web takeover.
“[IT WAS] AN ONGOING PROCESS OF RESEARCH AND SELF-EDUCATION INCLUDING MEDITATIVE, PRACTICAL ACTIVITIES, CREATIVE CLASSES AND PHYSICAL TRAINING. IT WAS REALLY FUNDAMENTAL FOR OUR FIRST EDUCATION, GROWING UP WITH OTHER INTERNATIONAL KIDS AND DEVELOPING FOREIGN LANGUAGE SKILLS GAVE US A STRONG SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND GLOBALISATION.”
At the young age of 17, the sisters had already packed up and moved to Europe to take on a different era, college. They enrolled in a school near Regents Park in London and studied international business and Russian. Then they didn’t know what they wanted to do for a career but they knew that it would help them get there.
Shortly after graduation, they moved to Russia for a brief stint. They credit that move to unveiling out the harder formalities in them.
“There’s a bluntness about Russian culture that generally rubs us Westerners the wrong way. Gone are the fake niceties and verbal webs of politeness. You don’t smile at strangers or pretend to like anything you don’t. In Russia if something is stupid, you say it’s stupid, if you’re having a great time with someone, you tell them you’re having a great time. It doesn’t matter if this person is your friend, a stranger or someone you just met.”
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In admiring these cultural distinctions, they found their enterprise for inspiration. Upon landing back in London, they got started on their shoe line.
Exploring the underground music genre played a heavy role in what they designed, as they studied the muses of the alternative-rock scene that’s been prevalent in the country since the 60s.
The alternative and edgy rock scene of Shoreditch, Camden Town and the heady cultural clash of Brick Lane were a strong influence for the creation of the brand; a style that epitomizes the look of East London.
In their early beginnings, the sisters noticed that there weren’t many quality sneakers that were affordable. With that new image in mind, they set out to interconnect street-wear and high-end fashion. In it, music just kind of happened. Having always been a part of their character, it makes sense that they wove into their work.
“Groove is a rhythm, a sensual pleasure, involvement, a mix of cool & funky. Groove is the sensation experienced when certain music is listened intensely. It’s the capacity to feel the past, it’s like getting the shivers upon experiencing something for the first time – Groove is the sensation of Crime London.”
They connected with underground artists and DJs like DJ Ricardo Villalobos, who collaborated with them on a party-sneaker they’d named after him. Eventually, this led to opening up their first mono-brand store in Ibiza, the music capital of Europe.
Armed with strategic marketing plans and a chromatic ceiling to complement the colorful aura of Ibiza’s island, the sisters have put their best foot forward for their first-and surely not last- store.
“State of the art design is symbiotically combined with the groovy hippie Ibiza roots which created the most exciting store opening of the season. Ibiza has provided the backdrop for strong seasonal collaborations with the islands best world-renowned clubs, DJs and brands. Strategic marketing takes place by forging partnerships with select venues and individuals to introduce Crime London to the myriad of cultural and economic group.”
Crime London has been in many different magazines from ads to mentions. The brand has been seen on Vogue, Glamour, Entrepreneur, Inc., and Forbes. They have been part of Fashion Week for a few years now, changing up the scene anytime there’s a new event or venue to advance in.
“Fashion Week is like being on tour as a musical artist – it’s the same people, like a big family, that move in four different cities within a month: New York, London, Milan, Paris. It’s the fun side of work, where we are all connecting and get inspired by the creations and visions from one another.”
“We exhibit at trade shows in some cities, while in other we present the collection in our showroom with appointments from clients and buyers. You get the chance to connect with so many different people also from different industries which makes it fun and exciting.”
Their e-commerce market made it easy for them their brand to go global. In 2018, the company’s conversion growth rate was 45 percent. The sisters have been utilizing data analytics and innovative technology, to keep a sleek design for their mobile-friendly store.
Focusing on their mobile market in order to keep their e-commerce base alive and rising, they have been able to generate a lot more sales, especially since most of them have been backed up by digital campaigns.
Despite their rapid growth, they maintain a very hands-on balance when it comes to Crime London product.
“We build up mailing lists, which is a direct connection to consumers, to keep in touch and get information about news, discounts, and promotions. To retarget them with the products they were visiting online and didn’t end up buying and depending on the case maybe offer a small discount code.”
Crime London is continuing to expand and more collaborations are underway including a capsule collection of small bags for party-wear to match the sneakers. In the meantime, the sisters leave us with some sage and straightforward advice.
“Coming up with something different is harder than previous generations and it won’t get any easier. Just try to make your unique interpretation and a better version of what people expect from you. Never give up, perseverance is everything. Timing is key. Luck is an attitude.”
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