Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Gabby Lewis

Gabby Lewis is a fashion designer, stylist, and creative based in LA and Tokyo. She began designing a children’s clothing line called bunny & hare, affectionately inspired by her daughter. Since then, she’s expanded her career as a designer, creating her own namesake brand GaMi Lew.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Gabby to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I began by assisting as a stylist in 2010, which later in 2011 encouraged me to start my career as a celebrity stylist. From red carpet events to styling Fashion Editorials for magazines, I wanted to gain hands-on experience in every part of the Fashion Industry. In 2013 I started my own magazine called Thrifty Hunter. I felt as though I had stepped into another world. It was one of the most memorable experiences of a lifetime. Thrifty Hunter delivered 13 unforgettable issues. After the birth of my daughter in 2015, I put everything on hold to be a full-time mom and really move into motherhood. While in Japan in 2016, I felt like there was more to be done. So inspired by my daughter, I decided to create my first kids’ clothing brand, “bunny & hare.” My baby girl inspired everything I designed. I created two collections, Made In Japan, that were featured in 3 consecutive issues of Vogue magazine in 2020! In 2019 I felt the need to expand as a designer, so I took fashion design courses. From those classes, I was given the opportunity to design 2 SHEIN collections in 2021 and 2022 called “Let Them Stare!”

What do you like most about being a designer?

Being a designer allows me to create things based on my imagination and share them with others.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

The downside is many designers don’t see this industry as a form of expression. Instead, they use it as a form of competition rather than understanding others’ artistic views in fashion.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

The most memorable experience is receiving an email from Vogue Magazine asking to feature my kids’ brand in 3 consecutive issues. This is just one of many memorable experiences, but this came at the right time in my life as a reminder that you never know who’s watching you or being inspired by you’re creativity, so DON’T GIVE UP.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I have met some amazing fashion and innovative people here in Tokyo. I love how expressive they are through fashion. Sometimes you meet those individuals who give you an entire story through their style. It’s so inspiring! That’s what I love most.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The most valuable thing I’ve learned is no matter what, you have an opportunity to be yourself and stay true to who you are. It’s okay to be original. Most importantly character/ personality and how you treat other is the most important thing anyone can do no matter what you’re doing in life.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

100%! I create and design for my husband daily. He constantly pushes me to step out of my comfort zone as a designer and see that I can do anything I set my mind to do.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would make sure never to second guess myself.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

It doesn’t matter who doesn’t understand or who doesn’t believe what you are trying to do. If you really love it, just stick with it, and continue to do what you love.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

Just to travel around the world and continue to expand as a designer. It is creating more unique and couture designs that can inspire the world.

Has The Pandemic Changed The Way We Dress??

Experts from RMIT University are available to comment on how the pandemic will change the stereotypical ‘Melbourne look’, the casualisation of workwear, the demise of restrictive clothing and the office dress code, and the rise of homegrown fashion and the local high street. 

Dr. Kate Sala, a lecturer of Design & Technology at the School of Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University, commented:

“History has shown us time and again that after large global crises, like in the case of both world wars and the recession in the early ‘80s, a period of excess and extravagance typically follows when it comes to fashion. 

“And I think we are going to see the same thing happen here, now that things have opened up again. People will really be embracing the opportunity to dress up and use clothes as a way to communicate socially with each other. 

“It will be a way to celebrate that sense of freedom, and as a result, that celebration is likely to translate into a lot of colour and print. 

“I think we’ll find that people are going to really throw caution to the wind when it comes to dressing and become quite experimental and have a lot of fun with what they wear. 

“I think we’ll also see a lot more looser silhouettes, and even when we’re channeling evening wear, people will still be looking for that sense of comfort and ease and that leisurewear vibe. 

“For example, the trend for wearing sneakers with evening attire will continue, there will be a lot of mismatching, and anything goes. It will be very experimental and bold and a lot of fun.” 

Dr. Stephen Wigley, Associate Dean, Fashion Enterprise, School of Fashion and Textiles, RMIT University commented:

“I think one of the biggest changes in the way we dress in a post-lockdown world will be the casualisation of workwear.

“A recent survey of 20,000 consumers across 11 markets, including Australia, by global athleisure brand Lululemon, found that 81 per cent of respondents said they perform better at work if they feel physically comfortable.

“Of course, this doesn’t mean we are going to start seeing office workers returning to the city en masse in their activewear; it will simply mean that comfort will play a far bigger role in what we choose to wear to work when we do go back. 

“So, we are likely to see less ties in many workplaces, for example, and women ditching more restrictive garments like skirt suits and high heels. 

“And I think, most significantly, the pandemic will likely be the beginning of the end of the office dress code – or at least the emergence of a new dress code.

“Just as companies who fail to take a more flexible approach to working arrangements and adopt hybrid workplaces will struggle to attract and retain staff, organisations that persist with strict office dress codes are likely to face similar challenges.” 

Tamzin Rollason, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University commented:

“I’m already seeing a shift among people who have started to see the value in shopping locally. I think the fact that we have spent more time at home and in our local neighbourhoods, due to ongoing lockdowns, means the local high street is really having a moment.  

“And I think it will continue to do so, as hybrid working arrangements become the norm and because people are seeing the benefits to their local businesses, their local economy and in terms of convenience. 

“While at the same time there has been a big shift towards online shopping, due to the closure of retail, that has been counterbalanced by some of those significant supply chain issues that we’ve been seeing. So, particularly, in the short to medium term, shopping locally will continue to be appealing. 

“I think we are going to hear a lot more talk about local manufacturing also, if the local industry can meet some of the big challenges it is facing, particularly when it comes to finding enough workers. But there is definitely a growing demand for it. 

“The pandemic has also produced a lot of what I like to call accidentally sustainable practices. I’m hearing people say, ‘I’ve been wearing the same five items of clothing for the last year and a half, and I don’t know why I’ve got all these clothes in my cupboard.’ 

“Other people have had time to sort through their wardrobes, so there has been wardrobe rediscovery and so by sheer accident, or due to these extraordinary circumstances, people have been adopting sustainable practices which are quite effortless, and really how sustainability should be.” 

This article was sourced from a media release sent by RMIT Communications: 0439 704 077 or news@rmit.edu.au 

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Cecilia Rinaldi

Cecilia Rinaldi is a brand dedicated to ethical and conscious fashion. Cecilia, with her team, creates clothing and accessories based on environmental and social sustainability using fabrics and organic materials produced in Italy.

Each collection is created with the idea of Slow Fashion, emphasizing sustainability, beauty, longevity and respect for humanity. Italian style is combined with a deconstructed form influenced by different Asian cultures resulting in a refined and minimal urban chic style.

She promotes continual research into new innovative methods while always referencing Italian traditions to maintain high-quality products with a low environmental impact. We believe that providing the option to buy one quality garment over multiple low-quality items contributes to reducing the environmental impact of a wardrobe.

Cecilia Rinaldi is a fashion designer with a professional course of studies of multifaceted experiences that have allowed her to form 360 degrees in the role of sustainable designer, development textile research, pattern and draping maker, and fashion prototypist.

After high school, in 2010, she graduated from Accademia Italiana Art, Fashion and Design in Florence, where she has been teaching since September 2015 and coordinating the Fashion Design department since 2020. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wales in the same year. After her studies, Cecilia dedicated herself to her professional vocation: she deepened her sartorial techniques, blending design through creative research and the study of materials.

At the Esmod International University of Art for Fashion in Berlin, Cecilia specializes in Fashion Design, completing her training in the creation of stylistic design and sartorial techniques. In 2013 and 2014, she went to the United States. While attending Richland College Multicultural Studies in Dallas, TX, she worked as a fashion designer for private clients and specialized as a buyer working in a Haute Couture Boutique. Traveling assiDuously, Cecilia comes into contact with different contexts and cultures and is always looking for new incentives: she matures and nourishes her style, which draws inspiration from nature and the surrounding environment. which are the inspiration for her research and new ideas. This allows her style to grow continually and mature, keeping her sustainable and artisanal foundation in mind. An essential feature of her modus operandi is the attention to the manual process. Cecilia’s fashion is, first of all, an ethical, sustainable fashion: respect for the environment and for the individual and human rights have always been the reference point in the work process and the creation of her collections.

She has devoted herself to her handmade vocation, deepening her sartorial and design techniques through creative research and the study of materials and fabrics. Cecilia values collaboration and looks for opportunities to volunteer with other sustainable brands around the globe as a way to increase her knowledge and help spread and support the movement of sustainable and ethical fashion locally and around the world.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Cicilia to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

After my first academic education, in 2010, I a three-year degree from Cardiff University Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design and an academic diploma from Accademia Italiana Art Fashion Design Piazza Pitti in Florence, where I currently work as a professor and fashion department coordinator, in 2010 I started with my first job in a fashion consultant studio in Modena, my hometown, where I worked as an assistant designer, a researcher of trends and fabrics, developing collections for various fashion brands in the office style. After a couple of years in the studio, in 2012, I attended the ESMOD International Fashion University in Berlin, where I deepened and learned the stylistic skills of fashion and tailoring techniques. Later I moved to the United States, living and working for two years between Dallas and New York, where I started several important fashion collaborations with luxury ateliers and with sustainable independent brands. Finally, in 2015 I returned to Italy, where I decided to open my own sustainable fashion brand Cecilia Rinaldi definitively. it is based between Emilia and Tuscany, Italy, in the meantime starting important collaborations with Italian and international realities companies and specializing more and more in the field of sustainable fashion.

What do you like most about being a designer?

What I like most about being a designer is researching new ideas, trends, and concepts, developing shapes, and researching fabrics and new materials. Get to know other new and existing cultural realities. But perhaps the side that interests me most is in researching textile materials and illustrating fashion sketches. Last but not least, I will never stop being enthusiastic to see how from an idea, we can create a real fashion collection, both wearable and exhibited in important cultural exhibition fairs.

The downside to being a fashion designer?

Maybe one downside to being a fashion designer is its loneliest side, especially during the creation and research phases. During the research, I spent a lot of time alone and often worked late into the night, unfortunately neglecting friends and family.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

Probably the training period I did in the United States: in Dallas and New York City (especially in New York) I had the honor of meeting and collaborating with important designers, influencers, journalists, politicians, personal shoppers, and prominent personalities in the fashion world and society.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

The most interesting people I’ve met so far are Tara St James, an independent sustainable fashion designer, an activist, an expert on supply chain and sustainability, and the personal shoppers of Rihanna and Oprah Winfrey. However, I still know and have the privilege of knowing many realities and famous people. But the discovery of other new cultures will always be the most fascinating part of my job.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in the fashion industry? This can be about the industry or about yourself.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned while working in the fashion industry is to know the real differences between the world of Fast Fashion and Slow Fashion or Sustainable Fashion. Hundreds and thousands of people are working behind a product in the fashion industry, and most of these are exploited. Unfortunately, behind the fashion system is heavy human and environmental resources exploitation. This was perhaps the most impactful lesson I learned. After several travels and encounters with different cultures and realities, I definitively decided to open my own sustainable fashion brand, trying to contribute to a more right world by activating myself with my work in researching new materials, researching new business fashion models through the creation of my collections and through the education I try to transmit more sustainable values both ethical and environmental, finding new ways to change fashion towards greater transparency and traceability for a sustainable new value chain in the fashion industry.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Absolutely yes. They support me and have always supported me. Without my family and friends, I would never have overcome certain difficulties, stressful moments, and even failures that I have found along the way. I believe having family, supportive friends, and colleagues is essential to undertake this path.

If you could go back in a time machine to when you were just starting, what would you do differently?

Right now, I would say that I would do everything again as I did. I have no regrets and believe there is the right time for everything. Well, maybe I would have moved to Florence first, but who would have known that a global pandemic would come?

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I’ve ever been given was probably not to give up in the face of difficulties, to always get involved, not to lose the curiosity that characterizes me, always be critical and aware of what surrounds me, to continue to ask questions but above all never stop smiling.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

My future plans are to live and work in Florence, working and helping my Italian community without forgetting the world. Continue to develop my brand and make it grow, create my annual fashion collections and wedding dresses. Working in education as a professor and researcher consultant in the sustainability area. Therefore, I’d want to create a more stable future: by 2022, I will also open my studio/atelier inside the Il Conventino Caffè Letterario in Florence, a historical building in Florence with a deep sustainable, cultural, and artisanal attitudine surrounded by greenery among artists and craftsmen.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Eloisa Diaz

Eloisa Diaz is the designer and founder of her self-named label, Eloisa, based out of New York City. She is a multi-disciplinary creative and skilled in fashion design, graphic design, and illustration. After graduating from FIT in New York with a degree in Fashion Merchandising Management, Eloisa headed to FIDM in Los Angeles. She earned a fashion design degree from FIDM in 2004 and continued her studies at Central Saint Martins in London.

Eloisa has worked in the private label sector in New York for American brands sold at Macys, Nordstrom Rack, and Lord and Taylor, among others, and worked for Spiegel and Newport News. Additionally, she has an apparel line Shein X Eloisa with retailer Shein.com, and she oversees her own label, Eloisa.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Eloisa to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

As a young girl, I always dreamed of working in fashion. I used to design and make my own doll clothes. Once I got older, I decided the right path for me was to study fashion and make my childhood dreams a reality. After graduation, I got my first design job in New York City; the rest is history!

What do you like most about being a designer?

What I love most about being a designer is the ability to take an idea and bring it to life. It gives me great satisfaction when I see the final product I designed. I also like that every day is different and challenging; it keeps me on my toes.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

Facing a creative block can be a downside for me. When your job is to create all the time, it can get a bit stressful if the ideas are just not coming through. When that happens, I find that disconnecting from my work and then returning with a fresh mind helps.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

My most memorable experience in fashion thus far was having my collection produced by SHEIN. It was such a great experience to work with their team and see my vision come to life! I am grateful that SHEIN gave me a platform to show my work on a global level. It was one of the highlights of my career thus far.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Some of the most interesting people I have met thus far have been some of my colleagues. A few years back, I worked for a brand where my colleagues had diverse skills and backgrounds outside of fashion. Working with people with different areas of expertise outside of fashion opened my mind to other possibilities and new ways of thinking.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The most valuable lesson I have learned in the fashion industry is always to be humble and kind. No matter how talented you are, humility and grace can go a long way. It is important to have your talent match the beauty of your personality.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Absolutely! My husband and daughter are my biggest fans! They are used to living with a designer, so my daughter runs around with a tape measure and measures everything! I must say she is slowly becoming a pro!

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

That is a great question. During the beginning of my career in Manhattan, there was a time when my confidence as a designer was really shot. If I could go back in time, I would remind myself that creativity is always subjective to opinion. What works for one client doesn’t work for another. So, rejection is unfortunately just part of the process. The good thing is that there is a place for everyone in the fashion industry, and eventually, you will find your place.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice I have ever been given is “no one can drive you crazy unless you give them the keys” That advice stayed with me because sometimes, when you listen to too many outside opinions during your creative process, you can lose perspective and really drive yourself crazy. So, it is important to be in control of your own thought process and be assertive when needed.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

In the near future, I plan to continue expanding my fashion line. I also plan on learning new skills related to fashion to keep up with the changing times. I would love to learn CLO-3D, so that is definitely on my to-do list. Outside of fashion, I plan to travel more with my family. The best thing is, is that the future is still unwritten! I have plenty of time to think about it and work towards these goals.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Bree Billiter


Bree Billiter is a Brooklyn-based evening wear designer. Bree was raised on the beaches of Cape Cod, where she began designing at the age of three. A Massart 2014 graduate, she moved to NYC in 2015 to follow her dreams. She designs to allow the wearer to show the world their daydreams outwardly.

Her use of unique materials, striking colors, and intricate detail work transports the wearer right into a world of their daydreams. Each design is one of a kind and stands out in any crowd.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Bree to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

All I have ever wanted to do was make pretty dresses; I have video of myself designing at three years old.

What do you like most about being a designer?

I just love to create and make things never seen before. I like when my pieces light up the whole room because that’s just magic and I love to create pieces that stop traffic and can transport you to another world.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

I am madly in love with fashion, but sadly the community is just as toxic and cutthroat as it is portrayed in films and TV.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

Seeing my dress in a Disney music video forever will haunt me since designing for Disney has always been my dream.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

My favorite memory is meeting Colleen Atwood right after moving to NYC. She is my idol and the designer I admire most, so that was absolutely surreal.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Do what you can with what you have, and trust your gut… if it’s too good to be true most of the time, it is. No one will ever fight for your dream as you will.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would go to school and get a degree in something that pays a lot. I have learned everything about valuing myself and not from school. The biggest struggle is always money, and money opens up so many doors that a degree can’t.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

When I met Bob Mackie he said “work so hard that one day you can pay people to work hard for you.”

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I just want to create because I love it. I want to create wild pieces, which is what my true love is. Celebrities aren’t wearing many emerging designers right now, so I might as well just create because I love it instead of considering an event or the ability for the celebrity to walk in it.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Alexandra Moura

Based in Lisbon, Portugal, Alexandra Moura creates contemporary avant-garde collections for men and women that reflect her personality and creativity. Leading the charge for Portuguese arts and culture alongside current-day contemporaries, Moura takes a fearless approach to fashion with a focus on artistic expression and an offbeat spirit. Moura’s collections are traditional fashion reinterpreted with an artistic vision that makes them intriguing, dynamic, and downright fun.

Working beyond everyday style, Alexandra Moura’s work is exploratory, seeking to approach clothing in a new way. Pushing beyond the stereotypes of gender and the conventional use of fabric and print, her work leans towards the avant-garde, reflecting a love of Japanese fashion design that captured her mind as a teenager. This influence shines through in Moura’s work, where classic tailoring is reimagined in playful, textured fabrics, and silhouettes are tweaked to create bold and exaggerated shapes. Each collection is at once eccentric and wearable, infused with a sense of subversiveness. Each season, Alexandra Moura’s design team explores the idea of opposing forces coming together, playing with contrasting ideas, textures, and references. Romanticism is bound together with the urban, classic looks are clashed with iconic sportswear details, and classically feminine looks are subverted with the masculine. Unabashedly romantic and artistic, the collections draw distinct parallels with the cultural mood of Portugal, which is renowned for its romantic, melancholic spirit. Alexandra Moura’s collections are timeless and seasonless driven by conceptual exploration rather than conventional trends. Moura’s collections find a natural home in the wardrobes of those with a keen eye for detail, an appreciation for fine craftsmanship, and an independent spirit. Each collection brings Moura’s inspiration to life as a collage of fabrics and colours, combining sheer knits and textured fabrics with a considered eye and sense of proportion that makes every it desirable, covetable and collectible. With a highly creative mind and witty approach to design, each Alexandra Moura collection is considered an artistic expression, designed to embolden the wearer with a sense of strength, independence, and individuality.

Alexandra is a leading Portuguese designer with a truly collaborative spirit; outside of her brand Alexandra Moura engages with projects including costume design and teaching the Masters course in Fashion Design – Fashion Design Atelier Project at the Escola Superior de Artes Aplicadas – Castelo Branco In 2015, Moura was distinguished with the Women Culture Creators Award, presented by the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality, the Secretary of State for Culture’s offices and Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Equal Opportunities. The honorees are recognized based on criteria including relevance and coherence, innovation and pioneering character of artistic activity, as well as the cultural impact of the work produced. As an industry mentor to emerging design talent, Moura enjoys invitations to speak at conferences and exhibitions, including MUDE – Museum of Design and Fashion and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Chiado. In 2018 Alexandra Moura won the golden globe in the category of the best fashion designer in Portugal, and 2019 is marked by the AW19/20 and SS20 collections at the Milan Fashion Week official calendar. In 2019, she was the designer chosen by the Decenio brand for a partnership, thus giving rise to the brand #DECENIOALEXANDRAMOURA, where the Summer 20 collection was presented at ModaLisboa. With this partnership, she won the Business Excellence Awards in the Brand Award category awarded by ModaPortugal and CENIT. 2020 was also marked by an invitation to be the creative director of MOCHE. During 2020 and 2021, she regularly presents his collections at Milan Fashion Week

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Alexandra to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

During a trip to London in the 90s (in there was no internet at the time), I found two heads that messed with mine; Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo. It all made sense; after all, I wasn’t such a wild animal! And so, from the sciences, I threw myself headlong into the world of the arts and went to Fashion Design, where I remain to this day.

What do you like most about being a designer?

Having the opportunity to be able to communicate with the world everything that goes inside me through clothing design.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

It is an extremely demanding profession in creative terms. We often feel exhausted.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

One of the most incredible experiences was being able to present the collection in the official Milan Fashion Week calendar, among others.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Suzy Menkes.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Trust your vision!

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Yes, always supportive. My husband works at the company, and our son Rodrigo supports us 100%.

info@imaxtree.com

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Maybe we would have tried the brand internationalization sooner.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Don’t make plans for life, so you don’t spoil the plans that life has for you.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

Continuing to be in fashion for pleasure and leaving my views on fashion and the topics I address to others.

info@imaxtree.com
info@imaxtree.com
info@imaxtree.com

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Kavya Prakhyati

Kavya Prakhyati is a 27-year-old Boston-based designer focused on creating sustainable fashion rooted in femininity and romance. She draws inspiration from couture techniques, renaissance paintings, 90s movies, and her Indian heritage.

Kavya graduated with a certificate from the school of fashion design in 2019 and apprenticed for Daniel Faucher Couture, learning the craft of tailored, custom-made garments. Some of her garments have appeared on independent magazine covers, and a collection of her garments were featured in Boston Fashion Week.

Her handmade-to-order garment addresses and empowers different body types and design needs through the use of traditional sewing techniques. She believes that her customers should buy her pieces because they truly speak to them. It just so happens that she encourages sustainable production and empowers everyone along the way.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Kavya to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I started off studying marketing and worked as a market analyst. I wanted to pursue a career in fashion, and I was always drawn to it ever since school. For many reasons, I chose to play safe with my career choice until I realised it wasn’t for me and decided to do what I always wanted. I went back to school to study Fashion Design, which really helped me develop my technical skills. I have been doing this for five years now (I did internships with very talented and established designers in Boston and got my first job as a technical designer in New York) and have never looked back.

What do you like most about being a designer?

Seeing the ideas come to life! I spend a lot of time drafting patterns/draping, manipulating fabric, sewing the garment using intricate details, and then finally seeing it on my clients or models is a total dream come true, especially when they notice the little details and tell you how they feel in the dress.

Meeting other creatives in the industry is another thing I love. I’m always meeting new people (online & in-person), and listening to different perspectives and ideas is always refreshing!

Downside to being a fashion designer?

Someone commented on my TikTok saying, “how does it feel to live my dream?” and I wanted to respond by listing several reasons why the fashion industry is difficult. Still, the truth is that although many downsides exist, they can all be overcome with workable solutions. That being said, the fashion industry is very demanding, both financially and time-wise. Another downside is that the fashion industry is so saturated that it’s hard to stand out, so you have to work really hard to differentiate yourself and be seen. Made-to-order designers, in particular, have trouble finding success in this ‘fast-paced, inexpensive clothing’ environment because their goods don’t have a quick turnaround time and are expensive. Thankfully, the situation is one of the most talked-about topics at the moment, so it’s easier to educate consumers about the trade-off and true cost.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

I would have to say that one of my most (recent) memorable experiences was having Dodie (a British singer-songwriter) perform in one of my garments. A true pinch-me moment! Her initiative to support independent designers is very thoughtful. Kudos to her and her team!

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I’ve had an incredible opportunity to meet so many models, photographers, teachers, and other designers in the industry! (All the pictures you see are works of these incredible artists, you will find them tagged in my Instagram account.) They truly changed my perspective on competition. For me, now, it is all about supporting each other and uplifting each other as a community because I truly understand what it takes. I’m so glad I got a chance to meet some of these creatives; they are all very interesting with unique personalities and backgrounds.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

#1. Quality>>>Quantity and #2. I don’t have to be a genius protege with an exuberant personality to convince people to like what I make. Just take some challenges, don’t downplay accomplishments, get hands-on experience, and invest in skill and practice. Who would have thought? Not me!

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

I am very grateful that my family and friends are always there for me and encourage me to follow my dreams. They’ve been very supportive of my new venture.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Cliche, but I can’t say I’d do anything differently because I would definitely have valued the opportunity to learn from my mistakes more. If I could go back, I’d take some financial, sewing, and confidence tips and a few self-help books with me.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Do your best, and watch your best get better.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I am excited about my future plans! Right now, my plan is to continue working with my current company for the foreseeable future. I’m working on launching my brand ‘Aeris’ late this year or early next year, where I take custom orders and also launch mini collections twice a year which are also customisable and made-to-order. Follow me on my Instagram @kavyaprakhyati to order, see my pieces in action, or just follow along my journey. I am also very keen on learning 3D software (like clo3d and browzwear). I’m curious, could this be the answer to all my sustainable custom fashion business problems?

Photo credits: Lena Nugent, Sasha Iman, Anna Istomina, and Siobhan Beasley.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Téa Nassi

Téa Nassi is a Parisian-based designer from Albania. She started her career in finance before quitting her day job to pursue her dream in Paris. She studied fashion design in a Parisian school and launched her brand under her own name.

She finds inspiration for her concepts in human psychology, optical illusions, and modern art. She enjoys blending classic cu4cts with a twist of fantasy, stylistically, for refined, cultivated women but with a streak of extraverted fun.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Téa to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I grew up in post-communist Albania when there were no fashion schools, and choosing a career was motivated first by financial security. I followed a scientific baccalaureate, studied finance, and nailed a 9 to 5 job in accountancy. Nevertheless, I’d spend hours sketching outfits in our building’s staircase from a very early age, and it never left me. So, at the age of 25, I took a huge leap of faith, quit my job, left my country, and moved to France to study fashion design. I first became an au-pair, had to follow a 6-month crash course in French, put money aside, and nine months later, I was ready to apply to a fashion school in Paris.

What do you like most about being a designer?

Where do I start? It’s a wonderful, applied art form that sublimates an everyday necessity into a means of self-expression. I love the transformation process of the industry, from a shapeless piece of fabric to an accomplished work of art.

On a personal level, I love the challenge it requires to reinvent myself in each new collection. Putting in the hours, doubting, researching, starting all over again from scratch, until finally the outfits are finished, and I can feel the pride of seeing them worn.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

Putting in the hours, doubting, researching, starting all over again from scratch! Jokes aside, we currently have the massive responsibility of reinventing one of the world’s most polluting and irresponsible industries. We must slow down, produce less and more intelligently, against everything that has been done for decades. It represents huge stress for all involved, including emerging brands such as mine. While the big brands have the teams and means to imagine new processes, new designers have to carry the burden of finding solutions alone, and at times we feel like small fish in a huge pond.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

My very first catwalk! The feeling of accomplishment overwhelmed me after such a long journey. I knew instantly I was in the right place and had made the right choices; it motivated me, like nothing else, to pursue the path I had chosen.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I like to surround myself with many interesting people from all walks of life. But the most interesting person I’ve met is my own father! He’s a secretive but fascinating person who never complains but always finds solutions to every possible problem he encounters. He is a true inspiration for me, and even though he is not part of the industry, I strive to apply his soft skills to my own work every day.

On a professional level, I wouldn’t want to differentiate one person from another; I sincerely thank all my professors and collaborators who have taught me invaluable lessons.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry? This can be about the industry or about yourself.

I had a valuable but frustrating experience learning the following lesson. I preferred to follow other people’s advice on several occasions instead of listening to my own creative instinct. I would put enormous amounts of work into something I didn’t personally believe in. Unsurprisingly, I would have to undo everything to start all over again and follow my initial hunch! Hence the lesson would be: take in the advice but don’t let it stray away from your instinct. And don’t be reluctant to put in the hours; inspiration comes working.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

My parents were born and grew up in Communist Albania. So naturally, their outlook on life is not risk-driven. When I told them at age 25 that I was willing to quit my safe situation in Tirana and leave to Paris to study fashion without even knowing the language, they were naturally worried about my life choices. Yet today, on the contrary, they are so supportive!

My grandmother was a dressmaker; my mother is also talented with a needle and a thread. She’s the one I call every time I need technical advice; she’s even pulled off quite a few sleepless nights to help me!

As for my partner, we work side by side every day, and he helps me with everything. He specializes in graphic/motion design and has helped me with my branding and photo edits… but we also love to discuss artistic viewpoints and regularly brainstorm on my brand. It’s a loving, virtuous circle!

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I strongly believe in the four spiritual laws of Hinduism. The second law states, “What happens is the only thing that could have happened.” And it must have been like that for us to learn that lesson and move on.

But all the while knowing it, I regret not having listened to my inner voice earlier. Instead of studying fashion straight after school, I studied finance for security. So as that spiritual law has it, finance was so unlike me that I believe it was probably exactly what I needed to find the courage to give up everything I had and study fashion design.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My first drawing teacher, Sylvie Fontaine, once told me that if I wanted to succeed as a designer, then all my energy must be focused on that one goal. Hence that meant for me to see the whole world through the eyes of a fashion designer. Movies, art, experiences, books, everything surrounding me should become wells of inspiration. I thank her as it has become my lifestyle ever since, and it really does produce tangible results.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

My immediate plan is to finish and publish my next collection, but my future plan is to expand my brand and achieve my first stand-alone runway.

In the distant future, I’d like to open a fashion school in Albania and provide young Albanians with the French savoir-faire I acquired. It’s a small country with huge potential, but it suffers from a fleeing young population who relocate in the hope of finding more opportunities elsewhere (been there, done that). It would be my contribution to my beautiful country of birth and heart.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Lia Cowan

Lia Cowan is an artist and designer whose mixed Jewish and Irish heritage has opened a portal where inspiration threads are spun from folklore and mysticism. Her approach to design is like that of an artist. Diverse themes are researched, explored, and responded to. Her sculptural background informs and adds another layer to the work, through silhouette, movement, and performance. Each of her pieces embodies its own story and has at its heart its own personal textile tale – handcrafted, hand-embellished, hand-embroidered, and hand-held. Going through a transformative journey of casting, gathering, draping, stretching.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Lia to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

My background is actually in Sculpture and Education, having completed a BA in The National College of Art and Design in Dublin. I taught Art as a secondary school subject for a few years, and I loved it and loved all my students, but I found something was missing. I missed the buzz of designing and making.

I have always had a passion for clothes and was quite experimental with shapes and silhouettes (some good, some ATROCIOUS), so I wanted the ability to make my own clothes. It started off as a hobby, but quickly I became obsessed. It was like something had sparked inside of me, and finally, I realised this was what I needed to do. From then on, I have done everything in my power to educate myself through courses, collaborations, and internships, and it has brought me to a place where I feel I have found my own unique voice as a designer.

What do you like most about being a designer?

There is no better feeling than seeing someone wear your pieces or for them to tell you how fantastic and confident they felt in them. It truly fills my heart with joy.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

Financially, it is definitely very stressful. I am at the beginning stages of my career, so I understand this is part of the package, and I am more than happy to do so if it means I get to do something I love as a career!

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

My first magazine feature was pretty incredible. Only a year prior to this was I credited as an intern for another Irish designer I had worked with. To see your work photographed, and your name in bold as the designer – it’s pretty magical.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I have worked with some fantastic stylists and photographers, each using my pieces in completely different ways which I love! In particular, Adam Walsh and Anne O’Shea (both stylists in Dublin) have been massive supports of me and my work.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Don’t undersell yourself or your work. I think a lot of young designers come into the fashion industry assuming they are at the bottom of the food chain and so must act accordingly. It’s so important to put yourself out there, tell people about your work and who you are, be bold and be confident – the feedback may surprise you.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Coming from an Irish-Jewish family, it’s hard not to be showered with love and support every day. My parents are my biggest fans; my Mom is literally my Momager. I owe them both so much; they have been with me through everything – the meltdowns, the imposter syndrome, and they have celebrated with me through all the successes.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I probably would say not to be so hard on myself in the beginning stages. I was obsessed with being the best or doing everything perfectly from the get-go. Everything is a learning experience, and I learned so much more through those mistakes than I ever would have if everything went “perfectly.”

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Don’t sell yourself short.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I am hoping to move from Dublin to Holland with my Boyfriend Max over the coming months. We are both designers and have always wanted to move to Holland for its incredible design culture. Ideally, I would open a studio there and continue expanding my brand.

I will continue designing and making custom pieces while releasing two small capsule collections a year.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Erika Janavi

Erika Janavi initially came by bus from Lithuania to London to study Fashion and Textiles in 2011. She had a wild ride discovering herself and challenging her career in various fields, however, not Fashion. During the first lockdown, she realized how fascinated she is with textiles and how much creativity she can give to designing, which is why she’s now pursuing this as a full-time career. More than that, she managed to adapt her unusual lifestyle to her designing profession. The majority of her possessions are antique or vintage because she’s passionate about sustainable living and timeless everlasting designs. Therefore she makes her pieces from unique antique /vintage fabrics and materials.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Erika to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I left my home country of Lithuania as soon as I graduated from school and started my BA studies in Fashion and textiles in West London. It was a spontaneous decision since I had previously prepared to study interior design.

What do you like most about being a designer?

The creative process of firstly imagining a design, then creating it, and finally seeing it materialise and worn.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

It is one of the toughest industries, especially if you are trying to make it on your own. People always tend to buy fast Fashion because of its cost rather than researching independent designers who offer unique, sustainable, and lasting quality items.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

I believe my big personal moments are yet to come in the near future.

Several years ago, whilst I was in my final year at university, somehow, I still managed to do a full-time internship and work in a cafe on weekends. I was an assistant for a very successful couture designer whose clients at the time were celebrities like Florence and Machines, Paloma Faith, Nicole Scherzinger, Mischa Barton.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Multitasking artists with a side hustle are always the most interesting people!

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Don’t be too proud to ask for help; you definitely can’t do it all by yourself.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

I think they are doing their best even though they don’t fully understand it sometimes.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would have kept up the creativity even if times were hard and I was literally a starving artist (after university, I had a four-year break working full time and abandoning Fashion because I didn’t get a job in the industry right away). I’d also start building a social media presence earlier.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Back in university, I was very unconfident and unsure if my design ideas were good; my headteacher once told me: ‘Do you want your designs to be in a museum one day? Then you should know what to do.’ Whenever I wasn’t sure if I should hold back and choose simpler design ideas or go bigger, I always remember his advice.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

This spring, I will finally start selling my designs with stockists; I am also focusing on opening a pop-up shop with multiple avant-garde independent designers.