Anna Skodbo on building her ethical London brand phannatiq

Part-time harpist, educator, occasional snowboarder, and driving force behind  phannatiq, Anna Skodbo takes a “clothes for people” attitude to designing.  Attracting people from the likes of musicians Kate Nash, Harper and the pavement population with her city inspired textiles.  Unique prints include fly tipping inspired by waste around Walthamstow, where the phannatiq design studio is based.

Committed to responsible employment, sustainable manufacture and dressing in a way that transcends the call for a seasonal wardrobe cull.  Phannatiq questions fashion’s status quo.

I am inspired by her respect for social and stylistic individualism, and now armed with her local guide to a good day in Walthamstow to share with you. Here is my interview with phannatiq Anna.

Anna Skodbo

It’s a shame that it’s even a talking point, but given the rarity with which they appear in fashion campaigns, I have to ask about your decision to cast women over the age of 40 and women of different race and size to model your collection? 

Because we make clothes for people and people come in all ages, shapes, ethnic origins and sizes, not to mention having different clothing needs. There’s no point trying to sell to them using only one example over and over again. We still only use about 6 models so it’s still not ideal, but hopefully it helps a bit towards people being able to see themselves in the clothes.

On our online shop, we try to have as many examples of different shapes in our clothes as possible along the bottom of the garment page so people can see for themselves too.

Oeko-Tex 100 certified bamboo silk dress in London print

organic cotton & bamboo mix dress in London print

Did you always produce clothes in sizes 6 to 20?  Why do you think more designers don’t make clothes in sizes above a 16?

I really can’t speak for other brands as I have no idea what they are going through. We have evolved over time. In the beginning we thought we had to conform to fit in and then a few seasons in I was like, “fuck this shit!” and started putting my fingers up at the whole thing bit by bit. Starting with banning photo retouching of any of our photographs- what you see is what you get- and then becoming more diverse with our model choices. This inspired our sizings.

What is it about London that inspires you?

Everything really, its vibrancy, its diversity, its unashamedness and of course the shit bits 😜

fly tipping print inspired by waste in Walthamstow

Where would you send someone looking for a day in Walthamstow?

Oooo there are so many awesome things in Walthamstow! If you like drinking there is Ravenswood Estate up by Shernhall street. In what is essentially an industrial estate you’ll find Wild Card Brewery who brew the most excellent beers, and often have some really great musical acts and DJs; opposite them is Gods Own Junkyard, a museum of neon light and bar, Mother’s Ruin, a gin palace, not to mention a host of street food. You practically don’t need to leave for the weekend.

Otherwise I love walking around Lloyd Park and visiting the William Morris Gallery, The Marshes are beautiful, as is Hollow Pond if you want to pretend you’re not in a city.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have shared with yourself when you started seven years ago?

Having a working knowledge of the intricacies of companies house and HMRC is helpful, even if you outsource your accounts, knowledge is power. Going with your gut is important too as there is so much conflicting advice about and every business is different and has different needs, much like a child. 

How would you advise people looking to make more sustainable wardrobe choices?   

Buy mindfully. Ask yourself, do you really need this? The biggest eco friendly thing you can do is reduce everything you consume. This makes a much bigger difference than anything else. I realise this goes against capitalism and having a business, so oops :p

Oeko-Tex 100 certified bamboo silk crop top & fly tipping print skirt

How did your Steiner school education and growing up with adults with learning disabilities influence your approach ?  

I think in some ways growing up with adults with learning disabilities, I’m more aware of how unique everyone is and that it’s ok. I feel very privileged to have spent such a large part of my childhood with people who make you see the world in a different way, who may have struggles with some things we take for granted but equally bring so much to the world in other ways we won’t have considered. It’s humbling. It has in some cases even made me question the status quo. As in who are we to decide what is the correct way to experience something/react to something/achieve something?

Which is your favourite phrase of your 3D printed necklaces?  

That really depends on my mood, however I have actually been called a Leftoid Sanctimonious Cunt on Twitter, so probably that one.

You have created a strong following of celebrities and particularly musicians that have worn phannatiq.  Does it increase sales?  And is all celebrity endorsement good for the brand?

That’s difficult to say. My customers come from all over the place. I find it really exciting to see people in my clothes no matter who they are.

Responsibilities follow you even further when you have your own company and it becomes harder to define work time and you time, because the business is you time too.  What advice would you give someone just starting their own business and what is the first thing you do when you get a moment for you? 

Moment to myself??? You can kiss goodbye to any social life! I sleep when I have time off mostly. I had my first holiday in 5 years last January and went snowboarding.

What do you have coming up for fashion weeks and beyond? 

We are working on a really exciting project for fashion week in September so definitely keep an eye out! As for beyond, who knows….

Shop Phannatiq

©Photographs courtesy of Phannatiq

Divorce lawyer to dealer in rare Dior

Julia Jones put the Jones in Mary Jones Vintage, a divorce lawyer that sources and sells vintage fashion.  Based in Liverpool, stocked in Liberty of London and preparing for her first Salvo Fair in my Fair Fashion pop up, which opens in Henley tomorrow (23rd until the 25th June 2017).

I caught up with Julia before she exhibits her vintage finds for women and men, including a rare collection of Christian Dior hats.  Kind of a genius business plan… who doesn’t want Dior after a divorce???

How did you get your start in vintage fashion?

I am a divorce lawyer by trade but have always loved fashion and bought and sold designer clothing on EBAY and the like. Some years ago a friend, Mary, approached me as she had been left an estate of vintage clothes which was too much for her to manage. I fell in love with vintage and Mary Jones Vintage was born. Mary retired a few years ago and I, as the Jones, carried on.

What should we look for from Mary Jones Vintage at SALVO 2017?

Passion for vintage! I hand pick all of the items I sell and pride myself on doing them justice in my display. I want to give these items a new life.

This is a sneak peak of my favourite piece on Julia’s Salvo stand so far.  A 1970s Gina Fratini maxi dress. 

Is there a trend in the pieces you are currently sourcing?  

In Liverpool at the moment vintage Kaftans and Kimonos are big. Vintage fur is always sought after, but generally people are looking for that unique piece that no one else has.

Do you find it hard to part with things once sold?  Does a single piece stand out as the one that got away?

I am terrible for trying not to sell things. Because these items often have a history it is hard to part with them. I bought an Edwardian French crystal hair slide from a car boot sale a few years ago. It was exquisite. At that time I was doing some dressage to music on my horse and I sewed it into her tail as our music was Diamonds are a girls best friend.  We won the competition but I forgot to take the slide out of her tail and she merrily galloped off into the muddy field with it on! Panic ensued but, after hours of searching, we did find it again. I subsequently sold it  and  have regretted it ever since.

What are the dos and don’ts people should be aware of when shopping for vintage fashion?

Do buy what you like. Don’t let anyone tell you, you look like your Granny in it.

What do you think of the eco-friendly side of buying reloved pieces? 

I think this is particularly pertinent to vintage fur. I only sell vintage fur and believe very strongly that the quality of the fur and the standard of the craftsmanship was far higher. There is so much vintage fur available that there is no need to buy new.

If you buy carefully, vintage pieces can last a lifetime and cost a fraction of the price of lesser quality designer items.

How does wearing vintage fashion personally make you feel?

I am  what is commonly known as a “fuller filly” so I struggle to get into most of the dresses. However I do indulge myself with hats, bags and jewellery!

See salvofair.com for more details and join me for a dose of Fair Fashion, the antidote to fast fashion festival style. 

Follow Mary Jones Vintage on Instagram

©photographs Reclaimed Woman & courtesy of Mary Jones Vintage

Jewellery from repurposed antique cutlery to mark National Upcycling Day

I know I am not the only one to have jewellery boxed-up in drawers, saving it for best.  The same goes for antique silverware, often passed down through family, brought out for special occasions when firstly, we remember it’s there, and secondly, we can digest more than the daily cutlery drawer by the time dinner is prepared.

Not that I am suggesting you consolidate your treasures into fewer drawers, but Joseph Bucsi created his brand Boochi & Co, crafting antique silver cutlery into jewellery.  A concept worth chewing on.

“In a world that is so transient and increasingly unstable, history is one thing that we can learn from and hold onto. All of my pieces have travelled through time and had many lives.  A spoon made in 1750 has seen more than we can imagine throughout its lifetime.”

Joseph was introduced to antiques by his girlfriend Charlie and her family.  Hard to believe he became a craftsman just 3 years ago, he immersed himself in the history of found items and began researching hallmarks and makers through auctions and fairs.  Joseph came across stories of servants appropriating silver cutlery to reshape them into wedding rings when they wanted to marry.

Dating back to the 1700s, hallmarks, initials and patterns throughout the sterling silver Boochi & Co collection tell stories of their provenance. Available to shop online and at The Vintage Look in Henley.  Boochi & Co is also joining my Fair Fashion pop-up at Salvo Fair on 23rd-25th June 2017.

I can’t think of a better way to mark national upcycling day (Saturday 24th June) than with a spoon ring, destined to be used everyday.

SALVO 2017 at a glance

Where: Icehouse Lane, Henley on Thames, RG9 3AP

When: Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 June 2017

Open: 10am to 5pm

Smart Works Charity Gala Preview and late night shopping with organic wine from Vintage Roots: Friday 23 June 2017, 5pm to 8pm

See salvofair.com for more details and to book tickets

©photographs courtesy of Boochi & Co

A reggae fuelled road trip to the organic grapes of wine merchant Vintage Roots

If you love wine, but you are less attached to the sulphites, perhaps in search of vegan or biodynamic wine, then you need to know about the organic wine people, Vintage Roots.

The name was derived from a reggae compilation tape on a road trip the  founders took to France in 1985.  They started the business with a sheet of road trip “research” – a list of fifteen wines, and now sell over 400 organic wines and drinks.  Co-founders Neil Palmer and Lance Pigott continue to fly the flag for organic, biodynamic, natural and ethically produced wines from around the world, not to mention quirkier offerings such as organic cachaça, a seaweed gin and the imminent arrival of their first organic Tequila.

Vintage Roots is  joining this year’s Salvo fair in Henley, 23rd-25th June.  Salvo fair is the annual event of Salvo.co.uk, the online marketplace and directory where I source a lot of salvage for my flat, so I am getting involved for this year’s Green Living Fest.  Zero waste food, vintage and sustainable fashion are set to join the unique mix of architectural, garden, midcentury and industrial antiques.

Just like antiques, wine can be a stuffy business, but Neil (pictured above in his eighties bins), is admirably honest about Vintage Roots’ struggle at the start.

“This is not meant to sound arrogant, but I wouldn’t have given too much advice to my younger self, as it is important to learn by your mistakes. We grew very slowly in the early days (about 10 years!), and earned little from the business, but all came good and we had some fantastic memorable times.”

Vintage Roots is giving Salvo’s (Fri 23rd June) evening preview party plenty of fizz in support of Smart Works Charity, and unique fashion reuse that both supports out of work women and reduces landfill.  See the details and buy tickets here (all proceeds to Smart Works Charity)

Vintage Roots are planning to be in my Fair Fashion marquee for tastings over the weekend too.  They describe wine as bottled history, which begs the question – what is the future for winemaking and the favour for organic or biodynamic wine?

“In the wine trade there is a growing number of wine makers and producers who are choosing to return towards older ways of making wine, using little or no intervention. Only natural yeasts to start the fermentation, sometimes ageing in old Amphora pots and adding little or no sulphur dioxide. Wine should not be a mass produced, ‘industrial’ product, more treated as something that is living. Organic and biodynamic farming methods keep the soils alive, which in turn feeds the grapes, and produces higher quality, more complex wines, whilst maintaining the soil for the growers of the future.”

Since 2005 their office has been powered by 100% renewable energy and in 2006 the company became the first in the UK to offset the carbon footprint of all its wine and beer imports. Last year saw the introduction of a “Vine to Lips” logo, designed to communicate the carbon commitment of a firm that sets the standard for green retail.

Vintage Roots  /  Salvo Fair 

©photographs courtesy of Vintage Roots