Sublime: You studied at the London College of Fashion, and have worked with a number of designers before setting up your own company in 2008. How has this influenced your work practices and design conceptions?
Ada Zanditon: My driving concept is to create innovative high-end fashion that happens to be sustainable and ethically conscious, seeking an opportunity for synergy between people, planet and the fashion business. This became my goal almost six years ago, long before I had enough relevant experience. I knew that this was a new and pioneering business model, and wanted to have a variety of industry and career experience before launching my own brand. My ambition is to be an internationally successful designer with my own concept store that is more than a retail space, offering an eco-luxury lifestyle encounter.
S: You are very conscious of the overall sustainability of creating fashion. How do you implement ethical, sustainable practices in your work? How important is it to you to spread this ethos within the industry?
AZ: As a company, we look at the energy that goes into creating the collection, and run the business in a top-to-bottom way. This includes electricity and water usage, waste management and travel considerations – the basic and the practical as well as the conceptual. Much of it comes down to a common-sense approach to what makes for an efficient and ethically conscious business. It isn’t a matter of pretending to be perfect, or claiming to be better than everyone else. It’s about seeking to make positive improvements.
I hope to inspire other designers to adopt more ethical considerations within their work, by doing what I believe in rather than purposefully lecturing people on how to run their business. I am always delighted when other designers, for whatever reason, feel inspired to adopt more sustainable practices. and it is vital to recognise how much big brands have changed and improved; for example, Vivienne Westwood are contributing in a forward-thinking way to change within the industry.
S: How has your ethos of creating sustainable fashion been received so far? do you see this being developed further in 2010?
AZ: It was overwhelming to see a full house at my first solo show at London Fashion Week in February this year. I am very grateful to both Vauxhall Fashion Scout and my main sponsor, the architecture and construction consulting firm Gleeds (whose clients include one of my favourite creators, Zaha Hadid).
Neil Hendy, head of womenswear at Marks & Spencer attended our show on behalf of Stuart Rose and gave us fantastic feedback on the collection, saying the brand has the right balance of creative originality and commercial awareness. Livia Firth is also a big fan of the label: she posted about the show on vogue.com. She also wore one of our dresses when she had dinner with Tom Ford in Paris. Apparently he complimented her dress, saying it was beautiful! We have a good range of stockists for the AW10 collection both in the UK and abroad.
Success this year has been due partly to the recognition I had from the British Fashion Council’s Eco-Mentoring Programme. As one of six brands from Esthetica chosen for this opportunity, I worked with Bev Malik (former buyer of Browns and Harvey Nichols), who helped me evolve and develop the brand and broaden the range.
Later in 2010 I am going to launch a diffusion line called ADZ, which will encapsulate our unique prints, and soft and casual elegant jersey pieces. The Ada Zanditon line will move towards a more refined and even more luxurious signature. Towards the end of the year we will be creating an installation, exhibiting at one of our key stockists, Beyond the Valley.
S: You have worked on a number of commissions for people, such as Bishi and Patric Wolf. What are you working on at the moment?
AZ: I have just created a wardrobe of bespoke pieces for the singer Viktoria Modesta, who is also my muse. She was featured on Channel 4’s Evo Music Rooms as one of the top six unsigned acts in the UK. Just before she started, Edith Bowman exclaimed, ‘I have clothes envy!’ That was really great.
Film artist Georgia Hudson and I collaborated recently to create a window display for Machine-A, a really innovative boutique and my original stockist, to present my capsule couture collection. We created an eerie geometric fantasy world inspired by Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis, featuring performance artists Joseph Heffernan and Marie Karlberg. Georgia also created a beautiful short film, Echolocation, for my AW10 collection that was screened during London Fashion Week.