January 2014 marks a milestone for Antiform. What started in 2008 as a research project blossomed into a fully-formed sustainable womenswear brand in 2010. The past 4 years have been a cycle of experimenting, refining and remaking; each cycle a new adventure into the creative space between waste textiles and local crafts.
At the beginning of our journey we wanted to be bold and challenge the current norms of fashion supply chains by creating a hyper-local model – to showcase (or even to prove) the scope of what can be manufactured locally to our studio in Leeds. This approach was always going to be focused on building strong local networks and forging relationships with local suppliers and makers – these connections were imperative in fostering a platform for the brand and we still work with many of those original contacts.
In January 2010 we launched our first collection, AW10, for retail and wholesale, working in the same way as many independent fashion brands up and down the country to sell the collection – selling in season and designing a new collection twice a year. The nature of what we were doing felt new and sometimes awkward, and often we came up against conflicts where our hyper local model didn’t quite fit with the fashion buying seasons. An example of this tension is when we are offered waste textiles, circumstances often dictate that we have to buy it there and then, meaning our material buying patterns are irregular – the direction of Antiform’s collections always dictated by the fabrics we discovered and the makers we were working with. This, of course, makes designing collections 6 months in advance challenging as we do not always know what textiles we will have.
Collection #7 marks this new approach as we transition towards selling key shapes through a single collection per year. Featuring a core of 6 styles that we we have slowly refined season after season – plus unisex offerings and accessories. A well-edited set of shapes allows us to work harder on construction and durability, and as we discover new fabrics, materials and processes, our buyers will also discover them in updated and limited edition versions of our current collection.
Collection #7 has Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer looks as well as staple transitional pieces which are available to order wholesale and retail at any point during the year. We hope that our next collection Collection #8 will build on this and push this philosophy further. This experiment will open new opportunities to challenge the fashion retail norms and will no doubt throw up new hurdles – in the meantime we are working with our buyers to develop this model of sales and connecting with other brands who are investigating in this space. Again, as in January 2010, we are feeling our way with a new model for selling. In doing so, we’re taking steps to slow fashion down, slow down even the process of creating clothing by taking the time to get to know it, develop it, celebrate it.