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

Defining sustainable fashion with Stella McCartney’s Dessert Island Discs

Aside from the fact I love a bit of Radio 4’s Dessert Island Discs (where presenter Kirsty Young asks famous guests to pick eight records to take if they were to be stranded on a dessert island), Stella McCartney’s Dessert Island Discs seemed a good excuse to define sustainable fashion in eight dresses.  

 The local dress

It’s not always the case that made on your doorstep is more ethical, but shopping in local boutiques makes it easier to enquire about the designers and makers.

Stella McCartney  –  “I’ve also thought it takes a lot to buy something made well, that is mindful in design and manufacture. You have to make those decisions based on who you are and have them bring something else to your life, make your life better, but not make your life not your life.”  

 

 The ethical dress

Eco-friendly designers and eco-collections support fair wages and working conditions, use eco-friendly fabrics and are mindful of animal rights, energy, water use and toxic pesticides.  Look for certifications like Fairtrade and GOTS  aka Global Organic Textile Standard and self-enforced codes, which you will find on the brand’s website.  They will be easy to find if they advocate transparency.

Stella’s Winter 2017 campaign explores waste & overconsumption

 

 The charity shop dress

A great way to shop guilt free.  I’ve been shopping in charity shops since I was a teenager when my mum did a stint volunteering at an alzheimer’s charity shop, so it comes naturally to me.  They are often the most local option for clothes and occupy what could otherwise be empty shops on your high street.  Most of us are guilty of buying something we never get around to wearing.  What’s one woman’s afterthought is another’s treasure, and these untouched gems regularly end up in charity shops.  Dresses with the tags still on, designer  and homemade dresses, I’ve discovered them all in charity shops.

 

 The vintage dress

The antithesis of fast fashion, true vintage appreciates value with time. Vintage is an overused term, too often used to describe pre-worn clothing from any era, but real vintage is at least 10, more likely 20 years old.  My personal favourite form of sustainable fashion, vintage shopping comes with an appreciation for an item’s unique journey.

Kirsty Young  –  “If you go out and about and see somebody wearing a jacket or a pair of trousers that you designed 10 years ago, do you think that’s a triumph then if she is still wearing them 10 years later?”

Stella McCartney  –  “Yes, Definitely…and actually it was funny, there was was somebody I saw in the street, only yesterday that had a bag of mine that was about 10 years old and she looked at me and I looked at her and I thought, this is awkward and I was really chuffed. For me it’s a real achievement.”

 

 The make do mended dress

We live in a disposable era. Cheap fashion discourages the need to develop basic mending skills.  I’ve read many articles telling people to save the planet by learning to make their own clothes.  If you have that skill, creative urge, and time, amazing.  If not, get to know a good tailor who cannot only extend the life of the clothes in your wardrobe by mending and altering them, but also help when you find one-of-a-kind wonders in charity shops or vintage shops that need tailoring to your size.

Stella McCartney  –  “I’m not interested in landfill, I’m interested in reuse and continuous design, I think staying power in every sense of the word is really important.”      

 

 The leased dress

Online rent-a-dress options have been growing, which is good news for party dresses that get worn once and then left for landfill.  Imagine – one dress provides multiple women with happiness! That’s now a sustainable business plan for sites like Chic by Choice, Dream Wardrobe and Girl Meets Dress.  I have yet to try it, but I suspect it will become increasingly popular as emerging brands like Laura Ironside (above) slow down the fashion cycle and lease their collections.

 

 The swapped dress

You’ve heard of the phrase, go shopping in your wardrobe?  Well, how about shopping in your friend’s wardrobe?  Obviously ask first.

 

 The Stella McCartney dress

Saving up for an expensive dress, even if it’s the dress of the season like this Spring 2011 Stella dress, is slow fashion because I’m still enjoying it today.  When you genuinely invest in clothes, you reduce the amount of clothes you need to shop for.

Stella McCartney  – “I definitely understand the idea of being yourself and not trying too hard through what you’re wearing.” 

Kirsty Young – “That seems like a contradiction to say not trying too hard from what you are wearing because surely buying expensive clothes is about trying hard.”

Stella – “No, I think you have to wear the clothes, not let the clothes wear you.  It’s really important for you to take control of your wardrobe.”

Listen to Stella McCartney’s Dessert Island Discs 

Shop Stella McCartney

©Photographs Reclaimed Woman and courtesy of Stella McCartney & Laura Ironside

12 discoveries from Salvo Fair for a sustainable luxury life

Dip into Deco bathrooms 

Resurfaced roll top baths, Deco bathroom suites, Belfast and Butler sinks.  With so much salvaged sanitary ware out there, it is not necessary to buy new.  Look to salvage dealers like Mongers that supply reconditioned taps too.

Mongers Architectural Salvage

 Period old things from playful young things 

  

Standing tall, Matt Dixon of Tallboy Interiors and Buster below, part of the Vagabond Antiques family.  Both businesses won a free Salvo stand in the Antiques Young Guns competition – a support network for people under 39 working in the antiques industry.

These dealers are changing the stuffy image of antiques and getting playful with period pieces. What could be more sustainable than buying furniture built to last, and reused over-and-over again?

Tallboy Interiors  /  Vagabond Antiques

 Ethical eating and drinking at Silo with Old Tree Brewery 

Zero waste restaurant, Silo chef Douglas McMaster’s mission is always the first thing critics note. The taste however, is just as mind-blowing.  V for veggie, I ordered the contemporary calzone filled with curried plant-based goodness in the Silo at Salvo pop up.  Washed down with Kombucha from Old Tree Brewery, a social enterprise that combines brewing and gardening to make nourishing, delicious drinks.

They supply ethical restaurants like Silo in Brighton, where Old Tree also run their Brewhouse Café.  And if you’re nowhere near Brighton, you can buy their drinks online.

I sampled their Sencha green tea Kombucha, which is both earthy and energising and packed with probiotics.

Silo  /  Old Tree Brewery

 Time for change with Clock Props

I haven’t worn a watch since I was a teenager. Perhaps because I grew up with a phone to tell me the time, but I fell for this Salvo Fair stand of clocks.

With a collection of over 500 clocks, a visit to Clock Props’ showroom back in London is high on my to-see list.   Buy or hire. They probably have the largest selection of clocks in the UK, and they are a go-to for interior and set designers.

Clock Props

  Mahala and Roomi Apparel 

I’ve been banging on about ethical homeware and accessories brand Mahala for a while and I finally got my hands on one of the signature bags made of old military canvas and British saddlery leather.  I must however leave room to mention Roomi Apparel.  Designed by the talented husband of Emily Griffin, the woman behind Mahala, Roomi Apparel is a new unisex brand made in East London.  Colourful coats on the left hand rail below suited both the tall men and petite women that tried them.   One sustainable size fits all.

Stocked at Mahala, follow Roomi Apparel on Instagram  here

  The real deal in retro arm candy 

I’m a shoe woman, but exhibitors in my Fair Fashion pop up converted me into a bag lady.  I rarely buy bags, but Salvo Fair had me spending on salvaged and vintage arm candy including this ’50s Corde bag with rare lucite handles.

Bag from Mary Jones Vintage worn with my ’70s jumpsuit from Snooper’s Attic, Snooper’s Paradise, 7-8 Kensington Gardens, Brighton. 

 Conscious shopping with Chris Holmes Antiques 

Also a bag of sorts… this French antique hod from Avignon was worn on grape pickers’ backs in the ’20s.  Hand painted with Chateau Neuf Du-Pape – until the 14th Century the Pope resided in Avignon and this is the crest representing his vineyard.

We thought it would make a special statement piece in our patio that could double as an ice bucket for parties!  I’ll be revealing more of my flat and the reclaimed renovation project soon.

Chris Holmes Antiques

 Grand Clearance Auctions

Fresh from the fair field, exhibitor Insitu is organising a clearance auction in Manchester on Saturday 8th – Sunday 9th July 2017.  Clearing stock ready for the final stage of renovations to their Italianate style Grade II listed Victorian building.  Auctions are a great place to pick up rare pieces at good prices.

Insitu  /  find future auctions on Salvo

 Vintage furniture house Metroretro  

Saxon of Metroretro dressed London’s Sky Garden with his bespoke collection of reclaimed furniture and this weekend he dressed the Silo at Salvo pop up restaurant.  Also a regular at Modern Shows, look out for Metroretro with mid-mod and industrial pieces at Midcentury East on Sunday 15th October 2017.

Metroretro  /  Midcentury East

 

  The all-electric pollution free supercar 

EVision Supercars is the first UK chauffeur-driven car hire service that chauffeur in London with a nationwide fleet that exclusively comprises of all-electric, Tesla.

A conscious alternative for a luxurious airport transfer or a special event (the white gullwing Model X is popular for weddings).

They also offer self-drive hire so you can experience electric as the new car era ushers in.

EVision

©photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

Me and my home want to be dressed top to towel rail in Mahala

I’ve got my eyes on a pair of made in England clogs stocked at Mahala, an independent homewares and accessories shop selling handmade bags and handcrafted pieces by designer/maker Emily Griffin.  Emily’s East London shop is based in an old fishmonger, where a material sign waves you beyond the fish shopfront signage with the aroma of organic candles and wild pistachio soap.

Bags made from salvaged army surplus fabric and British saddlery leather first introduced me to Mahala when I interviewed Emily for London Design Festival last September.  I was thrilled when she agreed to swap East London for an eccentric Henley estate to exhibit at Salvo fair .  I am collaborating with Salvo, the original architectural salvage fair to incorporate zero waste food and fair fashion for this year’s Green Living Fest on 23rd-25th June 2017.  A showcase of salvage, reclaimed interiors and antiques, not simply for their beauty, but for their green value. The Green Living fest will celebrate salvage as a lifestyle choice.

There is no perfectly sustainable material, but getting to know the materials you dress your home and yourself with is a good place to start.  Upcycled and carefully sourced, materials at Mahala include antique and traditionally crafted modern Turkish towels.  Currently completing the renovation of my flat with reused and reclaimed materials, I visited to buy bathroom towels.

If you have yet to experience a hammam. Let me fill you in with my first experience in Morocco.  Wearing nothing, but the traditional towel around my waist, I was scrubbed with black soap made from olive pulp and vegetable soda.  My two friends got lucky with beds to rest on, whilst the kessa gloved women worked their magic, and I was left to be exfoliated in the shower room.  Suitable for all skin types, we were equally pleased with the soap’s purifying properties, I just left slightly more attached to the durable, yet soft Turkish cotton towel protecting my hips, whilst flat-out on the floor tiles.

I joke, but the experience is a ritual of relaxation that I was keen to replicate at home.

Back soon with inspiration for turning tiny bathrooms into tranquil spaces, and how I tackled my tiny bathroom renovation with reused and reclaimed materials.

Mahala

Join me and Mahala at SALVO 2017 

Salvo fair, Icehouse Lane, Henley on Thames, RG9 3AP

Book tickets for the zero waste Silo at Salvo lunch with a weekend fair pass

Follow Emily Griffin on the beautiful @Mahala_london Instagram

©photographs Reclaimed Woman

 

Woman, Reclaimed

One year ago I left my corporate fashion job to follow a more conscious life.

My job gave me pleasure and pain, and enabled me to buy my first home in west London. Like a secret diary, I started to blog under the name Style Salvo, following my journey into a more sustainable existence (shoe collection excluded), as head of PR for a shoe brand at the time…. I vowed to do-up my new home with as many old, reused and reclaimed things as possible.

One bedroom, one bathroom, one garden, one kitchen… now my walk-in wardrobe, and one woman taking her first steps into a salvage yard.

One foot in fashion, one foot in salvage, often up to my knees in reclaimed building materials, but refusing to part with my knee-high leather boots, whilst dancing in mud with reclaimed radiators from the roaring 20s.  I started to question, are these industries really so different? Both can be intimidating, but as soon as you cross the facade, you find the heart of great stories. The reason I fell for fashion PR in the first place.

Fashion at an unsustainable pace, ticking-off trends rather than expressing personal taste left me cold compared with the storied pieces of individuality I was dressing my home with.  This is when I decided that I not only needed to claim to love my fashionable life, but actually live it.

Designing my home with reclaimed materials was a style choice as well as an ethical, environmental one. Reclaimed Woman is my attempt to find fashion and home fashions that don’t compromise ethics. A space to retrieve yourself, be real, inspired and conscious, because the examined life is worth living.

Sara Morel