Just weeks after news of the Amazon going up in flames, and countless other reports of the ongoing environmental destruction globally, several luxury fashion houses took the opportunity to proclaim their commitments to sustainability during fashion week. Whether greenwashing or not, the likes of Gabriela Hearst, Gucci, Burberry and Dior have all staged carbon neutral shows in a bid to offset their environmental impacts.
Yet while top-tier houses make larger-than-life statements on the world’s demise, young designers like Anna October emphasise optimism in the face of adversity. The Odessa-born designer, who established her namesake label in Kyiv in 2015, celebrates the concept of love and the power of memory through ultra-feminine wardrobe staples with universal appeal. Think minimalist cuts with distinct details in vibrant hues reminiscent of balmy European summers.
Unsurprisingly, global retailers such as Harvey Nichols, Moda Operandi and My Theresa were quick to stock the brand. TSUM Kyiv has presented Anna October since AW’19; buying director Olga Chaika cites its top selling point as “impeccable style which highlights a woman’s femininity and uniqueness.” According to the buyer, the launch has generated substantial interest amongst both existing fans and new customers; delicate dresses and sweaters are best-sellers so far.
Yet October doesn’t just design with aesthetics in mind; as a young designer with limited resources she’s doing what she can to reduce her carbon footprint and build on her ethical practices step by step. Addressing the impracticality of travel during market, the designer chose to present her SS’20 collection with ORDRE’s digital only showrooms, allowing buyers to place wholesale orders remotely.
Below, ORDRE caught up with the rising talent to talk inspirations, SS’20, and how she’s striving to work on her environmental footprint in modest yet practical ways.
ORDRE: How do you approach sustainability in your collections?
Anna October: I have always questioned the role of clothing in our everyday lives and I strive to make them more sustainable through my creations. I use a lot of deadstock fabrics because I think it’s important to use up resources that already exist. We only produce a limited amount of very special, high quality fabrics and we make pieces that are timeless, everlasting.
ORDRE: Why have you chosen to present a digital only wholesale showroom this season?
AO: Showcasing up to four collections a year is expensive and time consuming for both designer teams and buyers. I wanted to highlight what is now frankly an unsustainable practice by reducing my showroom numbers. This season I am happy to partner with ORDRE.com because I believe it will save a lot of time and resources for everybody involved - since it’s online. I can then invest this time I’m saving into improving the quality of our collections. It’s one of the top steps I’m taking towards building a sustainable business.
ORDRE: You’re stocked at a number of leading retailers worldwide – where do you see the biggest sell-throughs?
AO: At the moment, our biggest sell-throughs are in the US. We work a lot with Moda Operandi and their clients often place huge orders during trunk shows. I want to work with other leading retailers globally like Net-A-Porter, Selfridges, Beymen and Lane Crawford. Galerie Lafayette is also one of my dream stockists.
ORDRE: Your brand DNA is powerfully feminine – has this always been your design vision?
AO: My mother exemplified elegance, femininity and sophistication - she is often the inspiration behind my work. With time, I’m becoming more sensitive to what women want to express, so I tend to dream up new stories for the Anna October woman in new destinations and I translate this into my collections each season.
ORDRE: What influenced your SS’20 collection?
AO: SS’20 was inspired by a romantic summer trip to Paris and the countryside of Normandy with my boyfriend. I wanted to infuse this joie de vivre mood into my new collection, so I used a lot of silk and cotton, as always, but also a very special organza. Made in Japan, it’s completely transparent and is dotted with cotton flowers that look like they came from an old French Gobelin tapestry. The silhouettes tell two different stories: firstly, long, bias cut dresses and skirts reference elegant Paris. Secondly, comfortable, flowing dresses in cotton and organza reflect a quaint village by the sea.
ORDRE: What are your all-time best-selling styles?
AO: Our signature pieces are our open-back dresses in organza and cotton. In organza, it becomes almost like a collectable piece because it’s delicate and special.
ORDRE: Finally, what’s next for Anna October, how would you like to expand the label?
AO: I’m working on an exciting new collaboration with an emerging ethical brand that we will launch in 2020. In terms of my main line, I want to keep it clean and refined, to make the best dresses with amazing quality.