These days, when a designer sets up their own fashion label, it’s about much more than making clothes…
SABINNA, the eponymous London label founded in 2015 by Central Saint Martins graduate Sabinna Rachimova, is a lifestyle brand known for ready-to-wear, knits and handcrafted pieces. The brand also connects with customers through a podcast, crafting workshops and networking events. Sabinna chats to Lawfully Chic about her brand ethos – sustainability and inclusivity are paramount – and helming a fashion label during a pandemic.
LC: Tell us a bit about your brand…
SR: SABINNA is all about consciousness, storytelling and innovation. We explore sustainability beyond the product, produce everything locally in the UK and in Austria, and are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience.
Learning handcraft from my grandmother and therefore having a lot of respect for the maker, I always valued a sustainable approach. Later, when I started to work in the fashion industry, I realised there is a lack of transparency. The focus was always on the final product but never on the makers. I didn’t really like that. That’s how the idea for SABINNA was born. I wanted to combine my love for handcraft, the incredible stories of the women I grew up with and the current tech-savvy zeitgeist to show that fashion can be more transparent, and that small and independent businesses need to exist in order to balance an industry that is mainly driven by big corporations.
LC: Why is it so important to keep handcrafting techniques alive?
SR: Once I got into handcraft, I got obsessed with it. Handcraft became a way to express myself and most importantly, it made me feel less lonely. With everything that is currently happening in the world, handcraft is having a moment again. It’s such a great way to reconnect with yourself, it’s therapeutic and gives you a sense of fulfilment as you can see your work and effort transform into a final result. Handcraft gives us the opportunity to pass on memories and stories to future generations. It captures the dynamic of a specific time as well as the person that created it. It’s a deeply emotional, multi-layered tool.
LC: How have you pivoted to cater to your customers during the pandemic?
SR: We want to lead the change and be part of it rather than follow existing trends and concepts. Today, SABINNA offers conscious products and experiences. This means that you can learn how to crochet, work with beads, upcycle your existing wardrobe as well as join us for networking events. Since the pandemic, we moved our handcraft experiences to digital spaces (you can shop all required materials on our website) and offered a series of webinars to help creatives who are about to enter the industry in these uncertain times. We also have a podcast, called CONNECTING PEOPLE – it’s all about individual journeys and redefining what success means today. We started to sell face coverings that we make in our studio in Hackney Wick – locally made, using our production offcuts.
LC: Can you tell us about some of your immersive reality projects?
SR: We are always keen to collaborate and push the boundaries when it comes to showcasing as well as selling fashion. The key aspect is to improve the customer experience and bring emotional value to physical products. In the past, we partnered up with the Fashion Innovation Agency and Reactive Reality to create the world’s first mixed-reality shopping experience. Using Pictofit AR technology on a Microsoft HoloLens, customers could try on our garments using AR and switch outfits with a simple hand gesture. In 2017, we won the Fashion Futures Award for it, which was incredible, especially since we were up against H&M, Burberry and British Vogue. Our most recent fash-tech collaboration is RYOT’s (Verizon Media’s in-house creative studio) The Fabric of Reality, a first-of-its-kind VR fashion show (watch it here).
LC: What’s it like being a woman running her own brand?
SR: Female founders are still very underrepresented in our industry. And as a double immigrant female founder, I face a lot of challenges and unconscious bias. It can happen that people label me before I even get the chance to speak about my brand, my ethos or my values. It’s more difficult to get funding as a female founder and I have an extra layer of responsibility: representation. It’s important to be aware of your own privileges, acknowledge those and see how you can use them to contribute to change. Share the platform where possible, get other women on board, encourage, empower and be an intersectional feminist.