Eco Fashion Designer: Annika-N
For this week’s guest blog we catch up with Remade in Britain Retailer ANNIKA-N, a pioneer in sustainable fashion. Annika works with unwanted clothing and suits and brings them to life by reworking and restyling. After taking part in Annika’s demo at The Great Home Hack I couldn’t miss the opportunity to interview her! With a boundless passion and endless enthusiasm for upcycling simply stunning clothing this is an intriguing blog for sustainable fashion folk!
Annika-N doing a sustainable fashion talk at The Great Home Hack, Fulham
Who Made My Clothes? Fashion Revolution Day 24.04.15
The 24th April, marks a very special occasion in the sustainable fashion calendar, it’s Fashion Revolution Day. A chance for everyone across the globe to get curious and wonder who made their clothes? Where have your threads come from?
Annika-N models an upcycled #FashRev t-shirt in support of the event
Fashion Revolution Day was established to remember 1,133 people who were killed in the Rana Plaza factory collapse, and thousands more who still work in dangerous conditions to produce clothes we take for granted. In this guest blog Annika explains all about Fashion Revolution Day, how she’s is getting involved and how you can too! You can start by using the hashtag #FashRev on twitter.
Read below to also learn about ANNIKA-N’s style, her work and how sustainable fashion is an issue we should all address!
An Interview with Sustainable Fashion Designer, Annika-N
Annika-N is a leading designer in unusual, urban. Always contemporary, always restyled and of course, always handmade in Britain.
Annika, Talk us through your style, range and designs….
“Personally I’ve always liked unusual original clothing that has an urban grounding. I’ve always been a fan of traditional men’s suit fabrics but twisted into contemporary styles and worn with trainers rather than heels.”
“The styles I tend to create for my customers are structured jackets and coats and ‘one of a kind’ dresses. Wardrobe Surgery is my secret weapon as I’ve never encountered a single person that doesn’t have something in their wardrobe that needs attention! I love and feel honoured to be let loose of those treasured pieces that are worth reinvesting in.”
Creating Fashion in London
Describe your studio…
It’s a small-ish office space above an old boat yard with a glorious view of the River Thames, that frequently steals my attention throughout the day. The window gives a good enough natural light to take photos and I delight in dressing the mannequins in new creations and taking pictures of them on top of my inadequate cutting table. There’s so much I want to do to improve and ‘pimp up’ my creative space but the thing I’ve got absolutely right is my machinery. My industrial Juki straight stitch with the eco engine is a joy and you can’t beat and old school heavy duty 4 thread over-locker!
How would you describe your style? What are you biggest influences and inspirations? Have you any favourite designers?
I’m heavily affected by music, art, film and history. I think I’m just very emotional and easily moved by human expression and story telling. Or my hormones have gone awry! Hip Hop music and historical clothing silhouettes can somehow be found in most of my creations.
As far as designers and fashion brands go – Alexander McQueen, Vivianne Westwood, Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Celine, Hussein Chalayan, Issey Miyake, Yoji Yamamoto, Stella McCartney, JW Anderson………… I have respect for and find inspiration in so many.
Getting into the Fashion Industry
How did you get into fashion, did you train professionally?
I didn’t study Fashion at college. My work in clothing construction has always operated on a demand and supply basis. The first demand came from me and then from others wanting recreations. I’ve deconstructed and constructed so many items of clothing by now that I feel like I’ve exceeded the degree of knowledge I could have acquired through traditional study, but I will always be learning.
Unique Upcycled Clothing
Would you say that upcycling is a new term? Have you always upcycled, intentionally or unintentionally?
I consider upcycling to be recycling something and improving its value, so I have always been upcycling but I used to call it recycling. It’s a fairly new term but recycling and repurposing is an age old idea!
Eco Fashion Awards and Achievements
What is your biggest achievement to date? Any your aspirations for the future?
Professionally I suppose my biggest achievement to date would have to be my Shop and Clothing Company Junky Styling (1997 – 2012) and book Wardrobe Surgery (published in 2010). Without Junky I would never have experienced exhibiting my designs and skills in London, Paris, Milan, Istanbul and NYC. My book has opened me to opportunities to lecture at the V&A, RCA, Amsterdam Fashion Academy and Parsons New School in NYC.
Personally my biggest achievement to date is my daughter Maggie. Also tackling motherhood and launching a new business is a juggling act I could never have anticipated. Never before have I been so aware that you can make anything happen if you put your mind to it.
Sustainable Fashion Tips
Have you got any top tips for budding upcyclers and fashion folk?
- Perfect designs by making for your self first and foremost, then share the love.
- Always finish what you’ve started.
- When you’re shopping for materials in second hand shops, always check linings, armpits, pocket bags and crutches. These are the sections that would be a total pain to repair before you’ve even started transforming the piece.
- Turn things upside down and then study the fabric and features.
Use a medical scalpel (carefully) to unpick seams. You can buy online.
- Always have a steam iron on hand. Press before you cut.
- Reuse existing fastenings to get in and out of new up-cycled garments. Shirt plackets, coat and jacket buttonholes and button panels, trouser flies and waistbands can all be reused and applied to garments other than the ones they originated from.
- Cut up and old garment you like the shape of to use as pattern pieces so it can be recreated from other textiles. Be carful with stretchy fabric though.
- Always consider dyeing something a different colour – it can totally transform a garment!
- Use pin-tuck lines to down size and structure garments from jackets to trousers. This is most effective and a handy tip is you don’t have an over-locker.
- Learn to bag out garments to hide raw seams.
Handmade Clothing Compared to the Highstreet
How do you think upcycled products compare with high street finds?
An upcycled product – when done really well, has captivating originality and imagination in its DNA.
It’s an instant head turner and stands out from the norm.
Do you think the throw-away society we live in are becoming more aware of saving the environment?
You cannot avoid the issues of pollution and unfair working conditions in this age of accessible information and world news.
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet and more and more people are documenting this through books, film and lectures so the future generations are fully conscious of what they are endorsing with their consumption. Consumers are realizing that their spending power can be incredibly valuable in affecting change. You can use your pounds like votes and put your money into the brands that you believe in, those brands are nothing without you.
The tide is turning on a really ugly time in fashion production. The Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh last year resulted in the deaths of 1,129 garment factory workers. This horrendous tragedy was caused by appalling working and building conditions that were only in effect so we could buy more and more needless items of clothing for less and less money. It’s just one example of the human cost of our ‘out of hand’ consuming.
#FashRev – A Fashion Revolution
Tell us more about Fashion Revolution, and how are you getting involved?
I’m talking about it to whoever will listen (I did a special lecture in my local school) and I have joined the global revolution via Twitter. I will be wearing some of my clothes inside out on 24th April and I will be constructing a piece from all the labels that I have recently removed from garments that I have up-cycled. Follow@_Annika_N for more details of this.
Annika-N on Remade in Britain
We would love to thank ANNIKA-N for a really fascinating guest blog! If you’re inspired by the Annika’s work, passion and sustainable work, why not pop over to her Remade in Britain store? You can find a whole host of upcycled fashion, from Kimonos upcycled from vintage silk scarves or beautiful ball gowns created from recycled army uniforms, to reworked tux jackets.