Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Anita has two solid decades of fine tailoring under her belt, and she recently completed her M.A. in Fashion Design from Goldsmiths, University of London. As Creative Director of her own eponymous label, she has developed her own signature look with a geometric finesse that adds a sophistication built around very exact processes of dress making, with a thinker’s persona that is both stylish and smart. Her work has brought her around the world on various fashion projects, from Milan to Jaipur to America, leaving an international outlook in her latest creative work.
Anita, how did you get into fashion tech?
Technologies always appealed to me, but I never wanted to use them just for the sake of it. I was looking for an application where Technology blended with Fashion to serve a better purpose. I wanted to create user-oriented products based on consumer behaviour to fight negativity. Since shopping is already advertised as an avenue to solve personal issues, I realised that the use of technologies could also help to change the behavioural patterns of the user.
Tell us a bit more about your projects so far.
However my projects are about creating fashion items that develop relationships with its owner, producing items to be kept for longer and not thrown away. This is based on research that this special garment can evoke special feelings and build connections so that we keep it for good in our wardrobe.
The one I present now is 3D Fashion.
Social media has become a platform for 21st century interaction and plays a vital role in the way people perceive outside world, translating it into a digital format to fill in the content of a page. “Followers” and “like” oriented concerns put a pressure of taking more still and moving images that satisfy recent trends, among which 360 degrees, 3D followed by Virtual Reality boom targeting to become mainstream.
Mobile applications became the media for fashion brands to start a dialogue with the biggest social mobile audience, millennials, who has changed the whole culture of consumption. Living online resulted in gadget separation and social media anxieties as a trend in society’s demeanour. Seems like the more time people spend online the more they tend to spend, when constantly filling in the content of the page to maintain their online presence. Social media platforms are implementing virtual reality for an immersive online experience for its users to satisfy audiences’ needs.
The information gathered after completing research and conducting 5 experiments allowed me to shape the outcome of my project which represents a collection of 3D digital garments for virtual social media avatars existing in a digital format and virtual realm. Launching online shops to offer the items for sale using main distribution channels such as mobile social media platforms I want to target millennials who are the main target audience and active online consumers as well as trend-setters.
This project is a requiem for a life, when people substitute real being here and now experience with an online presence. The project raises the question whether people would consume digital garments to maintain their online presence being under the pressure of current online mania or not?
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
It took a while at first to realise what could change solid behavioural patterns to break consumption norms. I believe I am still experimenting with the product as it is an ongoing process for me. Even after the item has been produced, I would like to collect more data about the way people who use them feel and how long it takes for someone’s set habits to be changed gradually.
What was the biggest obstacle?
The biggest obstacle was and still is, to decode the day-to-day behaviour of humans in order to learn about their interactions with a favourite garment/accessory, and understand the true value of each item.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
I think being a female founder for me, is the only way to break the glass ceiling. I should admit that my country of origin and current living has a great impact on my way of thinking. It is a place where men are the ones supposedly driving progress. However, two years’ experience in UK and a number of business events I have visited, helped me to encounter many female entrepreneurs who inspired me to build my own dream with my own venture.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
I have to admit my biggest achievement as well as my biggest competition is a battle with myself. I believe one can’t start changing unless you accept your flaws. Maybe when constantly told that you are born to get married, it becomes a mission and not sure that I have ever liked the idea of being behind the husband, as the literal translation from the Russian language states. It took me a good 30 years to realise that I am an equal individual and a human being who can go out the and do what I want. I think that admitting that I can be a business woman and that I can produce ideas worth developing has become the biggest achievement igniting my journey.
What are your projects you are currently working on?
I am working on a sustainable fashion project as a part of my design practice. The project presents a collection of coats dedicated to different countries’ unuttered revolutions that impacted society’s development. The current series is dedicated to Japan and their Technological Revolution in 1973 when the first robot with artificial intelligence to play an organ was invented. The technological aspect is going to be the key to the development of the collection, incorporating the cultural identity of a rich traditional culture juxtaposed with modern touch - testament to their country’s reputation as a leading technologist with a population familiar with gadget wizardry.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
I believe that the movement is not only important as a way to identity critical spots open for change by letting women create and create for each other developing projects that could make their daily life easier, but also is a huge impact on the growing society of all genders, creating new motivations and norms.
What will be the key trends in the fashion tech and wearable tech industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
I believe that health is important and as people start paying attention to their lifestyles, sport and medical implementation of fashion will also be on the rise. I also believe that security and personal space protection will become key issues as once everything is out there in social media and monitored at the same time by Big Brother, that more privacy and protection of intimate information could be required. This might become embedded in the clothes you wear, keeping it close to you.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
I think we all go through trial and failures over and over again, but that should not discourage. On the contrary, that is a good way to process data and reflect. I would say by enjoying the process, one will get the right result. After all, isn’t it about the here and now?
Website: anitagrey.com (underdevelopment)
Social media handles:
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.