Call us Peter Pans, or late bloomers...my friends and I are slowly getting in on the whole growing up and getting married thing! So I was happy to speak with Daniela Degrassi, Annaborgia's founder, about her brand philosophy and future projects as I want to find the balance between elegance and sustainability for my upcoming wedding parties (Lima 2017, Panama 2018, here I come!)
Annaborgia was founded in 2015 by Daniela Degrassi, and her mission is to create wedding and bridal dresses that can become a part of your closet. The solid colors and clean shapes makes each item versatile and multi-functional.
I love how you have a Light and Breezy and Dark and Daring collection - can you tell me more about the inspiration behind each?
As slow fashion promoters, one of our missions is to continue building unique capsule collections of versatile multi-functional wardrobe pieces. With the galleries, we wanted to separate the collections based upon the mood of the clothing. The Light and Breezy gallery showcases pieces in light colors, such as white, blush, and champagne, and delicate fabrications that are suitable for events that require a light touch, such as weddings, garden parties, or other daytime social events. The Dark and Daring collection showcases pieces in darker colors, such as deep red and black, and dark faux-leathers that appeal to women who prefer their clothing to have a more edgy or dramatic slant.
When we talked on the phone you were explaining the choice of fabric for your dresses, I thought this was fascinating! Can you share with the readers more about the decisions you had to make when sourcing your fabric?
One of the most challenging phases of creating a cohesive collection is choosing the right textiles. For the first Annaborgia capsule collection, I was looking for a high performing luxurious fabric with a silky feel that was 100% cruelty-free. This was a challenge because as you know, animal-derived fabrics are often associated with the luxury apparel industry. Along with Fair Trade manufacturing, we are doing our best to be mindful of the impact of toxic textiles on the environment. During my search for the perfect fabrics, I came across a Japanese company, Zentex Textiles, that guarantees high quality manufacturing standards and that uses techniques that allow them to dye their clothes with dyes that are not toxic to the environment. Unlike many other textile manufacturers, Zentex allows its customers to purchase fabrics at a low minimum, which is a big plus for small slow fashion companies, such as Annaborgia, since the purchase of just the right amount of fabric avoids unnecessary costs and fabric waste.
At Zentex, we found our current signature non-toxic dyed synthetic fabric that is the closest thing to silk, with the added benefits of being cruelty free, hand washable, and wrinkle-resistant (meaning travel-friendly!). I appreciate that some people may turn up their noses at the word " polyester," but we feel that the positive attributes of the fabric far outweigh any negative connotations associated with the fabric class. The durability of the fabric coupled with our minimal style, the basic colors of our capsule collections (white, black, red), and the Annaborgia brand philosophy of maintaining a capsule wardrobe for longer than one season, will make it very likely that our clothes will be not seeing landfills any time soon.
While we’re really happy with Zentex textiles, our radar is always on the look-out for new cruelty-free vegan fabrications. Recently, I discovered an Italian faux-leather and we tested it on some new Fall designs. It is really exciting to be able to make luxe garments without the need to harm a soul!
I'm so glad I found you now because I'm at that age where everyone is getting married! What's next for Annaborgia, what can we expect in the upcoming collection?
In addition to our summery bridal/travel friendly debut collection, which we will continue to feature, Annaborgia is now expanding its capsule collection by adding some fall looks. Using our new Italian vegan leather, we have made our first accessory, the Scarlett Belt. We also just launched the London skirts, two identical a-shaped skirts. One is made of the faux-leather and the other one has a delicate taupe shade made of vegan suede by Zentex. We’ll soon be launching our faux-leather Sandy Jacket, another multi-functional Annaborgia wardrobe staple!
Can you tell me a bit more about the leather you use for the Scarlett belt? By the way, I think it's a fantastic accessory <3
Thank you! The Scarlett Belt is fast becoming one of our best sellers! I was introduced to our new Italian faux-leather through my product developer in Italy. Splitting my time between San Francisco and my hometown in Italy, I decided it would be more productive to work on prototypes and part of the production while I spend time in Italy. This way we have easy access to the excellent Italian fabrics and the new mindful technologies of Made in Italy textiles. The faux-leather that we are using for our fall looks is lab made in Italy from synthetic fibers and distributed by Modatex (our supplier), it is soft, stretchy, and very pliable so it is an ideal fabric to expand our designs from garments to accessories. It's making my mind run wild with ideas!
I talk to designers from all over the world, what is the scene in San Francisco like for sustainable and ethical fashion?
It’s growing by the minute! Since I am a mindful consumer myself, I don’t go out shopping much these days, but lately I was at the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto to enjoy lunch with a friend and I noticed with much delight that sustainable brand boutiques are flourishing in California!
Besides the pioneering Eileen Fisher boutique, I also spotted an Amour Vert store, and one of our local San Francisco brands, Tonle, just opened their first San Francisco shop very recently.
Besides the ground-breaking presence of brick and mortar sustainable fashion shops, the sustainable fashion activism is really strong in the San Francisco Bay Area. There are numbers of organizations we’re part of, like the West Coast Fashion Revolution Group, which mainly focuses on promoting events during Fashion Revolution Week, and the Sustainable Fashion Alliance, which groups slow fashion activists of the Bay Area to organize activities, pop up shops, fashion shows, and workshops to keep the momentum going.
I read that your business partner is also a good friend of yours! I work with my husband and I know that it's important to take care of the relationship both in and out of the work hours. Any tips for emerging designers who are considering partnering up with a friend to start their business?
We’ve heard too often the phrase ‘don’t mix work with friendship’, right? Well, there are exceptions to the rule :) - I think the secret of a good matching is to have respect for one another, it makes it easier to listen and value more carefully your partner's opinion when it doesn’t match yours.
I have learnt so much from my partner Karen this past year, really. Being a lawyer, she is very organized and of course, savvier than I, the creative mind that would just be working on prototypes and tweeting all day long. I tend to make emotional decisions, and she keeps me in check, reminding me that ultimately, the focus is the well-being of the company. So, I would sum it up, to work well together you need respect, trust, and a common goal where both parties share the same intensity and energy to achieve it.