Your wardrobe is looking a tad neglected after weeks of devoting your funds to Christmas present shopping, and your bank balance is now looking tantalisingly fat after your January student loan instalment – why not invest your money in new clothes, a new brand and philanthropy to boot? Antiform is a pioneering fashion company with a difference, embracing sustainable design by using reclaimed materials and supporting local manufacturers. The brand's collections are unique, quirky, and colourful, mixing bold geometric shapes with vintage-inspired designs - and the prices are very easy on the wallet! We caught up with Lizzie Harrison, founder of Antiform, to find out more about the inner workings of the brand.
How did the brand form?
Antiform formed from a series of ongoing collaborative projects in Leeds, and was formed as a grassroots call to action to cherish the many skills still in the communities around the studio and the many beautiful yet waste materials available to work with.
Can you tell us a bit about the work you do in Leeds?
Antiform was officially born in Leeds in 2010, and was initially a fashion label manufacturing clothing with materials and skills found in a 20 mile radius from our studio. The fashion collections have grown and adapted from these early days and are now made from materials and skills based in other parts of the UK. We also ran a shop in Hyde Park selling Leeds-made labels alongside our own collection. The other part of what we have spent the past few years doing is re-skilling the people of Leeds to be more confident with repairing their clothing, and in 2008 we set up the Leeds Community Clothes Exchange which is still going strong today.
Tell us a bit about the inspirations behind your designs.
Our designs are directly inspired and created from the amazing materials and wonderfully skilled people we meet along our journey to make local fashion. I love colour and print placement, and we often have fun working clashing prints and shade together.
We enjoy upcycling here at CUN. Can you tell us a bit more about your process of using reclaimed materials?
We usually get tipped off about materials by someone in our network, and then arrange a van to go and collect them. Once we have them back at the studio, we might have to wash them, sort them, and split them if they are garments ready for re-manufacture. From here we will work on a design to best use the materials using our many skilled machinists and makers to transform them into a new product.
What can you tell us about the sustainability of your collections?
Our collections are 100% reclaimed materials, fabrics that were heading for landfill or commercial recycling. Our garments are all made in England, working closely with local manufacturers. We spend a lot of time with our customers ensuring they know how to care for their clothing and set up events and services aimed at repairing, maintaining and remodeling clothing to extend the lifespan of these clothes as long as possible.
We love the fun and quirky style of your collections. Who are your own style icons?
My style icons are everyday women who make the pieces in their wardrobe look fresh month after month, year after year. The women who you spot on the bus who have thrown together a look made up of their favourite pieces and have fun wearing them.
At CUN, we make it our mission to support local designers, musicians and artists. What can you tell us about the local workers involved in your project?
We work with some really amazing people in Yorkshire, who keep some of the incredible heritage skills and industries alive. While we hear regularly about how there is no manufacturing left in the UK, there are still micro manufacturers and skilled makers who can produce the most amazing things.
What advice would you give a young graduate designer?
My advice would be to really invest in building strong foundations to your label from the beginning. There is no one in my supply chain that I couldn’t have a cup of tea and a natter with, which is invaluable when we need to work closely together.
What has been the brand’s most defining moment to date?
Last month we made our trade show debut at Berlin Fashion Week presenting the brand for the first time to the European market. The response was phenomenal and we were very lucky to meet some of our existing European buyers and meet bloggers, journalists, and store owners from across Europe who loved the brand.
What does the future hold for Antiform?
We aim to carry on pushing the boundaries of sustainable fashion, challenging the mainstream and making beautiful clothes which will be loved and worn year in, year out.