That said. Hats off. Antoniya Ivanova is a Berlin based Fashion Designer, similar to none of her colleagues. For Antoniya ethics come first. She wants to make raincoats for the bikers, she wants to go for environment friendly fashion. She loves the numbers and she doesn’t know what’s a ‘comfort zone’. Antoniya, who draws inspiration from silence-the only person I have ever heard to point that out. In a world that is slowly trying to improve what went wrong, Antoniya is an excellent example of a conscious person. Her brand is based on the need of clothing-and who said that because it is a need, it doesn’t have to be stylish? Far away from the stereotypes that we have about the fashion scene, we caught her up during the busy period of the Berlin Fashion Week and we asked her about her work, about her dreams and for dressing tips. Read below.
Where did you grow up, what made you go for fashion design-was it what you always wanted?
I grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since I was a little child I’ve been always fascinated with fabrics, materials, crafts and working with my hands. I started making clothes by hand for my dolls and myself since I was probably 5 or 6. I loved it and I couldn’t stop doing it, I had boxes and boxes of miniature clothes. When I was 13 and my mom was working during the day, I got my hands on her sewing machine and I was determined to find out how this thing worked.
How easy is it to leave your comfort zone of your hometown and go study in the US? What made you choose San Francisco for your studies?
>I never thought about comfort zone. I love the future, I love how unspoiled it is and all the freedom it gives to my dreams and imagination. I look forward to the unknown and all the experience and challenges that come with it because this is how I learn and evolve – through all the positive and negative experiences in life and they are both equally good to me. In Bulgaria, I was studying Economics full time, working full time and had a second part-time job. I was frustrated with the corruption at my public university and in the country, in general, I was exhausted and wondering why was I doing that and where is it leading me. It would probably lead me to a boring job at some office and that felt like a nightmare. I found out about a summer work program in the USA and decided to give it a try. I went to San Francisco. When I arrived I fell in love completely with the city, its vibrant energy, the art scene, the international crowd and the laid-back attitude. It reminds me a lot of present-day Berlin. On my second day there, I called my family and told them I am not returning to Bulgaria. There was just no other way for me.
You worked for some years at an Haute Couture House, in Paris. To be very honest, I imagine it super stressful and competitive. How was that experience for a new fashion designer? Would you advice the youngsters who do their first steps to go for something like that?
If they want to have this experience, then sure. The fashion scene is very competitive, closed and well, generally speaking, Paris is quite pessimistic and conservative, as a city. In San Francisco, I learned to be confident about what I do, to believe in myself-that everything is possible. When I arrived in Paris, with this mentality, I encountered a lot of closed doors. This killed so much of my enthusiasm and motivation and drove me crazy. But I stayed and continued to fight. My experience in Haute Couture was great and I learned a lot. When I look back, though, I realize that it’s simply for that certain type of person-the one who likes structure and feels comfortable with all the rules. Since I started working on my own label I don’t think I could ever go back and work in a fashion company – I need a lot of freedom to do what I want, whenever I want it.
We now find you based in Berlin, since 2011-the year when you launched your very own label. How would you describe your designing style?
It is always so difficult to describe what you do. In general, I like a monochromatic palette, minimal and clean-cut silhouettes, textiles with an interesting texture, as well as high-tech textiles.
As you already mentioned, you have an Economics background. How helpful has that been as knowledge for the launch of your own brand? To me, it sounds like the perfect match of studies, as you set your goal and at the same time you have a certain know-how of making it happen.
It definitely helps. I actually love numbers, which makes me an outlier in the fashion world. I have some basic knowledge of how to run a business, but there is so much work involved that I would really love someone else to take care of this.
Take us to your atelier, what is your working process? Do you listen to the music when you are working? If so, what kind of?
My working process varies, it really depends on the inspiration. Sometimes, I have a clear image in my mind of what I want to create. Some other times, I like to experiment, to take a piece of fabric and drape it on a mannequin, let it move where it wants to move and experiment with different shapes. This part is the most rewarding because the results could be very surprising. As far for music, it could vary greatly, from silence, sound recordings of nature, classical music, to experimental, indie rock, house…It depends on my mood.
From where do you draw inspiration?
So many things! High-tech materials, textures, geometry, art, music, silence, technology, the body in movement, architecture, nature, feelings…Everything could translate into the shape of a garment.
You have your Ready-To-Wear collections that are really, really special! Sleek, but edgy, comfy and stylish, sporty and chic. Tell us what to expect from you, for Spring-Summer 2015.
Oh, so you just gave me the answer to the question about my style. For the next season I am really trying to fuse my Ready-To-Wear collection with my cycling/rainwear collection. It just makes more sense and the aesthetics is very similar. The rest is a secret but it is coming out very soon.
The Rain+Bike collection! Is it something you consider as making it a trademark of your brand or at least, coming up with more designs? I am asking as especially in Berlin (well, in all northern countries), this is something we need! Biking with style in the rain-oh well, that’s something we definitely need!
Definitely! A crowdfunding campaign is on the way with many new products and I am super excited about it! It is starting next month and people can preorder all the new products. It will be posted on my FB fanpage so stay tuned!
Except from the Ready-To-Wear, you also do Costumes Design. What exactly does that mean? On what did you work so far? What is your favourite piece?
I create costumes for different performances, for example I’ve been working with Asphalt Piloten collective, which is run by one very talented, restless and inspiring superwoman called Anna Anderegg. Their pieces combine Contemporary dance, tape Art, sound and video Art, theatre. I love all their pieces, it is hard to name just one. Another interesting project I’ve worked on was an interactive opera and Contemporary dance piece by composer Tatsuru Arai.
What is your biggest dream for your label? Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
I have so many dreams, I don’t even know where to start! I would love to bring to life my rainwear/cycling collection, I would love that people start biking more and me trying to create clothes that facilitate this. I would love to work on projects that involve fashion and technology – to experiment with 3D printing for example, and also to research the possibility of making the fashion industry’s impact on nature and people less devastating through technology. More on the creative side I would love to have the time and freedom to create more experimental pieces through collaborations with artists, dancers, musicians, tech people. There is so much to explore!
Give to our readers (women and men) a dressing tip. What would you advice us all?
Buy clothes if you NEED them and you LOVE them. Think about quality and not about quantity. Ask from where your clothes come from and who made them. The fast fashion industry produces so much because there is a demand for it, but these clothes are quickly discarded without being recycled. If we want to change this, the change has to start with us. We don’t need so many clothes. We need less. Support independent designers, shop local, find design markets near you – in Berlin there are many great ones – Voodoo or The Wardrobe at Platoon Kunsthalle. There are also online platforms that offer high-quality products from independent designers like Not Just a Label, Not on the High Street, Nelou and of course Etsy and Dawanda.
Where can we find your work?
Last but not least, our signature question: What does ‘Nothing But Hope And Passion’ mean to you?
Staying true to yourself and following your dreams.