INTERVIEW WITH CROCHET QUEEEN SABINNA RACHIMOVA
Sabinna Rachimova is the designer behind the knitwear and ready-to-wear brand Sabinna that focuses on hand crochet. Sabinna has been showcasing in London Fashion Week since 2015. The brand is stocked in UK, Europe as well as Asia.
We had a pleasure to talk to her about her story.
Also checkout the latest collection 004 on the catwalk in the video below.
Have you always been interested in the fashion and who is your biggest inspiration?
Probably it would be wrong to say that I was always interested in fashion, as I didn’t really connect to the term fashion as a child. I was definitely interested in the creating process. I always loved the fact how you can take certain materials and create a completely new and different product out of them.
My grandmother is still my biggest inspiration. She was an absolute genius when it came to creating new things. She could transform any idea into a story and then develop something new from it. She could pattern cut, sew, knit, crochet, everything! She was a mathematics and physics teacher, which in my opinion was the perfect combo with her art skills. She was precise but at the same time ready to go against all the rules. She was truly unique.
Both experiences were great and very special to me. At Central Saint Martins I studied Fashion Design, I didn’t study knitwear. My knitwear knowledge comes mostly from my grandmother. So when I started at the knitwear department at Dior, I was super excited to see a completely new take on knitwear and learn how to translate it into wearable, modern and commercial pieces. My boss Zoe was such a wonderful mentor, I learned a lot from her. It is difficult to pick out one big lesson, I think it is more the overall experience. To understand the individual processes of creating and the overall flow of the industry, it’s a never ending circle.
Was it a difficult decision to start you own label and you had already planned it?
I always wanted to have my own label. I went through high school, through CSM and through all my jobs knowing that I am preparing for my own business. I did plan it, and honestly I think it is great to have a plan, but it is also good to know that things might work out differently and you need to be flexible, adapt to certain situations and be able to get the best out if it. That’s what makes a life of a business owner so special and exciting.
How would you define the Sabinna aesthetics and who is your ideal customer?
The SABINNA aesthetic is a lot about memories and how important they are. I am a very nostalgic and sometimes melancholic person. I like to recall certain memories and the visuals, the smells and the feelings that come with it. Every season I like to pick a topic and explore it to the fullest, go deep and maybe even overthink it a bit. I take my personal memories and stories and create a narrative that other people can also relate to. I try to communicate with the audience through the clothes that my team and I are creating. I can’t say that there is an ideal customer, I don’t like the word ideal. Anyone who can relate to our stories and our product is our customer. I want women to feel confident and comfortable in our clothes.
You are one of the torch bearers for the “buy now” trend. A lot of people had and still have reservations about it. How was your experience with it as a small designer?
When we started, I tried to play by the good old rules and work in the fashion cycle that everyone else is used to. But soon I realised that this cycle is not working for us. We created a collection, we did our catwalk show, people love it (or hated it), had questions about, wanted photos of it, they had emotions about the collection. And that is what fashion is about: emotions. These emotions were gone after 6 months, not only for the costumer but also for ourselves. We lost sales by not being able to build up on the emotions. I think especially as an emerging label it is important to get some cashflow in as soon as possible. It is important to be aware that fashion is a business at the end of the day, which doesn’t mean that you have to comprise your creativity when it comes to the product. So my team and I decided to rethink the cycle. For us it is important to take traditional aspects and combine them with new innovative ways of running a business. That’s why we stick to the LFW seasons, we present twice a year but without focusing on spring/summer or autumn/winter. The collections have no seasons, they are marked by numbers, which is the order they came out. Every season we pick around 12 styles that go into production in full size range and are available to shop at our pop-up selling event straight after our catwalk show. Yes it takes a lot of planning and you need to get the logistics right. But at the same time it is so exciting to see what you can achieve as a young brand by rethinking existing patterns.
Technology is also an important aspect for you. Your presentations have been very interesting. How has the response been and how do you think incorporating the modern tools can help the businesses both big and small?
Tech is an important aspect of the everyday life, not only for me but for most of the people that I know. My partner David is a tech professional and at home we often talk about new tools, ways to improve certain aspects of life by using tech and of course how to incorporate tech into fashion. I feel that there are a lot of possibilities for fashion and tech to collaborate. A while ago we recreated our signature crochet flowers as 3D printed replicas to show the connection between handcraft and machine craft. The outcome was very beautiful. This season was especially exciting as we paired up with The Fashion Innovation Agency and Pictofit to present the world’s first mixed reality shopping experience. We had a holo lens experience which gave you the possibility to see a model through the lens and change her clothes by moving your hand. The guests were also able to explore a virtual changing room and try on our entire collection on an avatar of themselves. The response was great, everyone was intrigued and loved how we connected fashion and tech. We are excited to continue these type of collaborations and build a bridge between fashion and tech in the future.
Do you have any plans to extend to men’s wear?
No, not at the moment. Maybe something to bare in mind for the future, but definitely not at the moment.
What was the idea behind your recent collection and how has the response been?
Season 004 is called I still love you and explores the first romantic feeling that you have as a teenager. How can you stay true to yourself and your style without changing for the person you have a crush on? It’s about the confusing and mixed feelings that can be so strong today but fade out by tomorrow. The fabric choices, the prints and the crochet pieces were all build around these teenage emotions. The invites for the show came in the format of a love letter and an invite to a secret date (our show). At the show the guests were welcomed with fresh flowers on their seats to underline the whole first date experience. The models were wearing shoes with stamps on the soles that had little secret messages on them. And while walking down the catwalk the colour of the stamps faded, just like the teenage love feeling we all once had. The whole experience was rounded up with angry love songs. The response was great! So many people told us that they immediately recalled their first love/romantic feelings and all the insane emotions that came with it after seeing our collection. It was great seeing the smiley faces of everyone after the show and hear how the guests started to exchange love stories with each other.
What has been the best advice given to you?
That’s a difficult one! I got a lot of good advices along the way. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do and be authentic and true to yourself were probably the most important ones. Oh and work hard! Yeah that’s the one that comes in use every day. 🙂
What advice would you give you the young and aspiring designers?
Don’t dream, or talk or think about ideas, create them. You won’t know if it works before you actually try it.