Beyond the Brand: Anna October
Beyond the Brand aims to allow readers to be introduced to the designers and creative directors that are behind fashion's most-daring and radiant brands. This interview will introduce you to Anna herself, the mastermind behind her namesake Ukraine-based brand, Anna October.
What’s your personal fashion story? Did you know you wanted to be a designer from a young age, or did you find yourself on that path later on?
Anna: I was 8 when I’ve decided I want to be a fashion designer. My very first memory was an article about Jean Paul Gaultier, he was the first fashion designer I discovered when I was 8 and since that I decided to be a fashion designer. Also, my stylish mother, she was wearing her 3 favorite colors, red, black and lavender and was always in a 3 pieces costume and an elegant hat. She became my vision of a lady. Then I was studying drawing and pattern cutting, was working in a local newspaper and writing articles about fashion when I was 15. At the age of 19 I launched my brand in Ukraine.
I saw you all were shortlisted for LVMH back in 2014, what was that experience like, and how did you get on their radar?
Anna: I was showing my collections at Mercedes Benz Kyiv fashion days and had a wide international recognition in press, articles in Vogue US, Forbes, etc, so many people from the jury already knew about the brand. Sarah Maino, one of the jury, saw my previous collections. Then I just appleid and was shortlisted, even it was 1000 competitors from all over the world- I was so happy to be selected among my favorite designers in the top 20. Then I came to Paris with my collection and was presenting it to Karl Lagerfeld, Carin Roytfield, Bernar Arno and others. It was surely a very special moment of mt career, but the same time the most challangeing, sibce it was rovolution in Kyiv and I didn’t know whats going to be next, when I will be back from lights of Paris Fashion Week.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the typical day in the atelier/studio goes?
Anna: Usually I am starting my work at home in the morning, I like to plan everything and think at home, in silence. Then, when I’m coming to the office around 11 am- I am meeting my management to discuss main tasks and what is important, then usually I am making fittings. Fittings with my production team is my favorite part of the day. After making the collection we develop the sizing for each style and making fittings among our team. Sometimes it’s so fun, for example when we are all in the same white dresses, looking like a bachelorette party. Then in the evening I’m answering emails and checking reports. I am the owner of the business and have to keep my eye on each division.
Has the brand had a focus on sustainability for the entire history of the brand? What made you want to work with deadstock fabrics?
Anna: No, I never thought of this before 2019. I went to India for a shooting and saw how many things produced and how this garbage polluting the country. It was so annoying, I never seen anything like this before. WE could drive for 8 hours in a bus and were all the way surrounded by garbage. Then, in a week I went for a trip to Spitsbergen, the most northern archipelago. There I’ve seen what the nature is, clean dunes of snow and wild animals. This contrast and two major trips made me thing of what I am doing from another angel. I’ve decided to stop using prints and minimize the production as much as I can. I started to use mainly deadstock. I am making clothes for 10 year now and I know people who are wearing my first collections still, also product that I am making now from the deadstock- it will stay for ages, it’s very well made and it has a clean aesthetic. I don’t know if this is sustainable, but it’s my vision of conscious attitude on production.
Some of our customers I’m sure are familiar with how far in advance fashion works, but to give them an idea, as of right now (February 2020) what season are you working on and designing? What’s the inspiration for the collection you’re working on?
Anna: I’m always working on 1 collection, but each drop is a new series. So basically it’s a development of my lifelong story. After finishing Pre Fall in Jan- I went to Africa for a short break and inspiration for FW21. I found it in colors, in washed and sun-dried colors that I’ve seen in Zanzibar. I was always dreaming about making a rainbow collection- each garment will be in different color, so I made my dream come true and new collection is like a pencil box from 70s.
How would you describe the wearer of Anna October?
Anna: She is easy with herself, and she enjoys being a woman.
What is your ultimate goal for the brand?
Anna: I want to build a world of Anna October, to gather all the people who want to live life full of pleasure and aesthetics and bring them all things that I lilke- clothes, furniture, art, flowers, pictures…
What is your typical daily uniform?
Anna: I like to wear mini skirts, with flats and cropped cardigan. Or pants with a silk shirt. Always Anna October, 90% of my wardrobe is from my brand, and other 10% is vintage.
How do you unwind after a busy day in the studio?
I drink good wine with my loved ones and I dance. Because I fell in love with the tango, I dream of going to Argentina. Also I practice yoga. And one of my favorite activity is walking on the nature. And when it’s summer, I go to an island in Kyiv and do wake surfing. I am a surfer girl and my city allows me to enjoy on the river.