London-based designer Sabinna Rachimova is quickly establishing herself (and her brand) as one of the emerging talents to watch in the fashion innovation space. Last year, the Central Saint Martin’s graduate partnered with the Fashion Innovation Agency and tech company Pictofit for the first interactive AR shopping experience. The project was so successful, it won Decoded Fashion’s Beyond the Runway award, beating fashion heavyweights like Burberry, H&M and British Vogue.
This type of innovative thinking wasn’t a one-off. For her latest collection, Sabinna has decided to ditch the traditional fashion catwalk and partner with a group of influencers for a digital See-Now, Buy-Now showcase. We caught up with the designer to find out more about the experience and the significance of fashion week for emerging designers.
What are your plans for London Fashion Week this season?
This season we’re trying something completely new, leaving fashion shows behind and instead producing a digital showcase of our new collection – worn by social media influencers from the USA and UK, all with different audiences and all with a different style.
How does it work?
We have partnered with 14 influencers and have given each of them a single look from the new collection. Each day during New York Fashion Week and London Fashion Week, a different girl will reveal her outfit, which will be available to buy instantly with a simple swipe up through their Instagram stories (see schedule for each day at the end of the interview). Quite literally #SeeNowBuyNow. We think this is the future of the fashion showcase, especially for emerging brands who want to reach out to a wide international audience with direct feedback. The digital showcase starts on Saturday, February 10th and it will all happen on Instagram, making it accessible for everyone.
The girls are based both in the US and UK, so this is also a chance for us to make the showcases more global. Yes, we’re a London-based brand but our customers are all across the world, they want to see the show and want to be involved.
There’s a conversation going on. It’s great to be able to do that because that’s not the experience people have when they order online.
Have you done anything else on Instagram that’s a bit more unexpected and surprising for fashion brands? What is the appeal of the channel for emerging designers?
We have done Instagram sales for a while now which have always been very successful. We film and show what people can purchase via Instagram stories during our sample sale period, so they don’t have to come to a specific place to get the products. I realised that our customers react well to Insta stories and that type of communication where you give them a behind-the-scenes look or show them a product up close. There’s lot of engagement. People would say “Can you send us a picture of how the back looks like” or “Do you have it in this size?”, so there’s a conversation going on. It’s great to be able to do that because that’s not the experience people have when they order online.
Coming back to fashion weeks and showcases: during fashion week, people see fashion shows through their screens because they want to capture that moment and share it afterwards. Which is understandable. So we’re trying to combine all these – the technology and the behaviours – and make it as good as possible for the consumer, the press and everyone involved. That’s why it makes sense for us to move to an exciting digital showcase that involves Instagram.
The fashion industry is experiencing major changes. Many things have been done and a lot of them have become a routine. I want fashion and our product to be as exciting as possible for the customer, for the team and myself.
What are you hoping to achieve with this activation during LFW?
I’d like to use the power of social media and reach a wider audience with our products. I want fashion showcases to be experiential and innovative. It’s exciting to see what we can do with it. We are creating a case study – figuring out what other types of fashion showcases are possible nowadays. Is it possible to completely get rid of the catwalk show format and maybe also involve buyers and press into the digital showcase? I strongly believe that the only way to find out if something works is by trying it out.
Some consumers still want to see the fabric and touch it so we have catered for that too. Beyond the digital showcase we will host a See-Now, Buy-Now event on the 17th Feb at the St Martin’s Lane Hotel. I think it’s good to respect the history and how things have been done before. It’s not about throwing everything away and re-invent the wheel. Even though the main focus is on the digital experience the event in London is a chance for people to see and feel the collection, meet the team and buy the products straight away.
Which brings me nicely to the next question: what is the significance of Fashion Week for you and other emerging designers? Where do you see it going in the future?
I think it’s changing a lot. Again, because of the effects of social media you can now start without anyone’s approval. Before that you always needed to wait for someone to give you space and voice. Now, if you have a vision and a good product, you can start straight away. If people are responding to it, you have an audience.
For me, personally, especially while I was studying fashion design, it always felt like Fashion Week was this exclusive club. But there’s a lot of space for talent in the industry. It’s important to stay true to yourself and your vision. If you don’t want to be part of fashion weeks, you don’t need to be. It really depends on how you want to position your brand. I think fashion weeks should change and go a bit more with the spirit of the time. Currently, a lot of things don’t make sense, especially from a customer perspective. But I’m excited to see where it will go. It’s always exciting to be a part of a change.
What is the inspiration behind your new collection?
S006 is all about finding balance in life and is called ‘Out of Focus”. We all go through phases where everything seems to be out of focus. No decision seems to be right and no path seems to fit the expectations. Most people, especially in their twenties, know this out of focus feeling all too well. The collection explores a certain state of mind, of a journey towards finding yourself. The colours and textiles are inspired by sculptures by Johnson Tsung and artwork by Landon Metz, Sinta Werner and Nygårds Maria Bengtsson.
It’s also about being overloaded with things. With what you see, what you feel, all the emotions, the opportunities, everything that’s happening at the same time. You feel like you need to figure out what’s happening, you need to have a solid opinion on everything, and define yourself, so the collection is also a bit about how to stay true to yourself.
I believe it’s always good to be personal in your research and your concepts. The theme is very relatable to me and, I think, will resonate with a lot of young people.
Our collections are not defined by seasons, as we work with the ‘see now – buy now’ concept. I never truly believed in this season thing. You might need summer clothes in winter and the other way around. I want to give my customers freedom of choice.
Let’s talk about how you do collections. What is your approach?
Our collections are not defined by seasons, as we work with the ‘see now – buy now’ concept. I never truly believed in this season thing. I completely understand that you need a definition for the collections so it’s helpful for buyers, press and consumers but people’s behaviours are changing rapidly. We are travelling more, which means you might need summer clothes in winter and the other way around. I myself sometimes buy winter jumpers in July, if I find one that I really like. So I want to give my customers the same freedom of choice.
You’re also just released a mini capsule collection, Love=Love. What is the appeal of doing these types of ‘drops’ in fashion?
Usually designers do two main collections and two pre-collections, which I personally find too intense. We want to grow sustainably – not to produce just for the sake of. But I understand that customers need something more in between the main collections and don’t want to wait for six months before getting something new. As a brand we are quite commercial and accessible, our e-commerce is built in a way that we need engagement and people to come back and look at things and be excited. That’s why we started doing capsule collections. For example, five different jumpers for Christmas or a small selection of bags for spring. We just dropped a mini collection for Valentine’s Day. This mini collection is about embracing love in all its forms and variations and be kind to one another. It’s a mix of our signature jumpers and t-shirts, with £5 from the purchase of every t-shirt going to the LGBT charity Stonewall.
Make sure to follow the influencers below to see the reveal of Sabinna’s Out of Focus collection. And follow along on Instagram through the hashtags #SabinnaDigitalCatwalk #SabinnaGirl #SeeNowBuyNow:
10th Feb: @camillasentuti
11th Feb: @malloryonthemoon
12th Feb: @laurenmazzei
13th Feb: @saratoufali
14th Feb: @asliceopi
15th Feb: @mimosasmanhatten
18th Feb: @bubblyaquarius
As an official media partner for Sabinna, INTERLACED will be taking you behind the scenes at the See-Now, Buy-Now event, so follow us on Instagram and be part of the experience!
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