You’d be forgiven for assuming that 2020 has been a perennially hard time to be an independent fashion designer with a burgeoning brand.
“I just don’t feel that’s been the case for me,” asserts Greek designer, Eftychia Karamolegkou. “I actually think this is really a chance for smaller brands to do better, customers are fed up with fast fashion. This is a good opportunity for smaller brands. There might be a direct to consumer shift instead of retail, even if for smaller brands it’s harder to have e-commerce.”
While fashion brands across the board have grappled with the tumultuous state of the industry, Santorini native Karamolegkou was running all elements of her eponymous label Eftychia (ef-tee-hee-ah) single-handedly, long before the pandemic took hold. From the marketing to the sales to the production, the designer believes that for her, Covid-19 hasn’t been too difficult a transition.
“If coronavirus has impacted anything in my business, it’s my mental health!” she quips. “I’m everything from the cleaner to the CEO!”
Karamolegkou burst onto the London fashion scene in 2018 upon her graduation from Central Saint Martins with her namesake label which she dubbed ‘haute couture for tomboys.’ Her designs are characterised by languid tailoring that blurs the distinction between masculine and feminine and celebrates classic androgynous staples which stand the test of time.
The Hackney Wick inhabitant has remained resolute about crafting concise capsules of “11 to 13 looks, two times a year” which she resolves to continue doing “for as long as I’m just a team of one.”
“The consumption in the fashion industry is a lot. Not just that they’re producing too much for stores but their own actual collections are often comprising of 50 something looks, which is just crazy.”
But to assume that the transition to digital fashion was easy or preferred just because of her brand’s youth would be presumptuous.
“I’ve definitely used coronavirus as a chance to slow down slightly, but I don’t think physical shows will ever stop because fashion is not a digital thing, it’s based very much on craftsmanship and touch,” she states. “Otherwise it becomes like dressing an avatar and it’s not for real people anymore.”
Karamolegkou journey into the fashion industry began in Santorini, where she grew up with a painting father and spent her time crafting ceramics and “doing lots of things with my hands.”
“Although it was lonely, being isolated on islands,” she explains, “it was also full of creative possibility because of my father’s hobby, I knew that things were possible.”
Upon deciding that there was a dearth of opportunities in creative industries in her native Greece, Karamolegkou trained as a graphic designer before switching gears and embarking on a fashion degree at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, before completing her masters in Womenswear at Central Saint Martins, which she completed in 2017.