“As a small brand, it can sometimes be tricky, as you are not a priority to factories. ” – Anne Isabella
How do you find the motivation to create in lockdown? Have you been alone or do you have a team? Where are you based?
I am based in Berlin, working from a home studio, and my team is currently very small. For FW21, it consisted of Cissel, who was assisting me with pretty much everything 3 days a week, and my boyfriend Max, who helps me with everything admin-related. We wrote my business plan together, and he helps me navigate bigger decisions. It has been so crucial to have them on board. I also work with freelancers occasionally. During lockdown Cissel and I just kept on working as usual. I am still at the early stages of my brand and would need quite a bit to throw off my motivation. It is expected that the first few seasons will be difficult, and so in many ways, this is no different. At least I don’t know any different.
During these extreme circumstances, how has this changed production in particular?
I had started reaching out to potential factories in the first months of 2020 and was able to visit the shoe factory that I am now working with, in Portugal, about a week before Berlin went into lockdown. However, the factory was closed for a long time, and my designs were postponed more and more. As a small brand, it can sometimes be tricky, as you are not a priority to factories. We managed to get the shoes done, but only at the very last minute.
“I think it can also be challenging for emerging brands to live up to the fashion calendar, especially when you are not taking part in the official fashion week.” – Anne Isabella
What is the future for Anne Isabella as a brand?
It was really important for me to integrate responsible practices into my label from the start. I carefully sourced certified materials, whether they are GOTS certified, recycled, upcycled, or new materials such as tencel. This is something I intend on continuing. I also want to focus more on accessories, but it will take time before I can really expand on that. Lastly, I have a lot of plans for knitwear! All these are quite cost-intensive, so I plan on introducing these elements one at a time.
Are there any parts of the fashion system and industry that you think do not make sense for young designers?
As a small brand, selling to retailers can eat up your margins, as you mostly buy small quantities of material and produce very limited amounts of clothing. This drives the final prices to levels that can be unappealing. I think it can also be challenging for emerging brands to live up to the fashion calendar, especially when you are not taking part in the official fashion week. But it is important to try and stay in sync with the buying season, as there are quite specific windows that you don’t want to miss.