Jack Yan is publisher of Lucire.
One notable difference between Anna Deans and many other designers that Lucire has covered is that she has had bylines in this very magazine. Many years before launching her fashion label, gradually getting greater notice since its launch in 2018, Deans wrote for this magazine for a period in 2013–14. With her finger firmly on the pulse, she identified up-and-coming models (history proved her right on her choices) and pioneered stories covering celebrities’ and fashionistas’ Instagrams six years ago—all part of a journey that can be traced back to her childhood, when she first became interested in fashion and clothing.
Anna Deans, the label, has an ethical basis, using only sustainably sourced, natural and high-quality materials for her accessories and clothing, a decision Deans says comes from her instincts while she studied fashion design at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand.
Her initial bags go beyond just ethical and environmental considerations, but stand against the ideas of fast fashion. ‘I consider the biggest issue to be the quantity and speed of consumption. Due to the fashion industry’s super-cheap, trend-focused clothing, disposable fashion items are now the majority. The solution lies just as much in how we buy, as what we buy. By contrast, the best solution to fast fashion from my perspective is to produce garments that not only last a long time, but also people want to keep for a long time because they love them so much. I don’t believe change can be made through making people feel they should do something, but enabling them to want to,’ she tells Lucire.
‘I decided I wanted to bring this concept in creating my own business focused on clothing and accessories that both lasted a long time, and people wanted to keep for a long time. The “perfect” item in each category which is beautiful, timeless, comfortable, flattering and long-lasting.’ They also have to adaptable and practical.
‘They needed to sit alongside my aim for optimal comfort and flattering of the body with items that enabled optimal movement while wearing them, and had the ability to mix and match components. I also wanted them to have a unique, but elegant, timeless æsthetic.’
It’s a tall order but she has a clear goal in mind and a way to get there.
Deans gives the example of a satin blazer that felt ‘as good as sportswear, looked as good as traditional tailoring, lasted a long time and fit you perfectly.’ This is her label’s aim, creating a customer’s new favourite item in each category that they can love, something that will last for the long term. The environmental impact and ethics are still important to Deans, and come alongside her concept of creating ‘investments’ for her customers, people whom she believes care about their environmental footprint as well as the longevity of their purchases’ design. ‘They understand the value of buying less and slower consumption and appreciate how much more fulfilling this can be for both the planet and yourself.’
That satin blazer isn’t on the market yet, but Deans is working toward it progressively, beginning with her Leda pocket bag (NZ$240, c. US$154).
‘My initial aim for my brand was to create clothing. However, I soon realized how long this was going to take … I had also wanted to develop accessories with the same ethos, so decided at this point it made more sense to begin with the accessories to sell, while I continued to develop my clothing.’
Part of creating the Leda bag was exploring the use of separate components: an outer net that was separate to the bag, and a net that was separate from the strap, etc. This meant that customers could have greater versatility.
The bag is a ‘solution to a problem many women have,’ explains Deans. ‘When going to events for example, you want the minimum with you: keys, cards, phone, lipstick. I wanted this bag to fit the very essentials but be so slim and close to the body that you forget you are wearing it, even while walking or dancing. The next stage for this bag is a belt bag version which is coming soon to the website’ (www.annadeans.com).
Fabrics include kangaroo leather and silk charmeuse. ‘For its thickness and weight kangaroo leather is the strongest and lightest natural leather available,’ she explains. ‘Kangaroo hide has a unique fibre structure that runs parallel to the leather surface which provides exceptional rope-like strength. A thin leather is a lighter, softer, more comfortable and form-fitting leather. Kangaroo leather provides abrasion resistance, sweat resistance, superior tensile strength, excellent stitch-tear strength and a soft feel.
‘Kangaroo leather is also arguably the most environmentally and animal welfare-friendly leather available.’
The leather sourced by Deans is also vegetable-tanned, a choice she made for environmental reasons.
Hemp and silk charmeuse were chosen for their strength and feeling of luxury. ‘The silk brings a beautiful sheen and soft feel to the fabric and the hemp brings strength and durability, and a low environmental footprint,’ says Deans. She notes that hemp grows well, and doesn’t need most pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
While Deans has to import the leather, her primary concern was quality, and feels there were limited options in her native New Zealand. She also faced the same problem with hemp. However, she is keeping her options open, even though there’s nowhere on her site that specifically touts her range as being an ‘eco-fashion’ one.
Deans’s next step is to extend the accessories’ range, with a bucket bag, laptop case, belts, straps and inserts (such as card holders and pockets). She will also start gradually with clothing, beginning with women’s and men’s T-shirts. The gradual expansion will ensure that Deans masters each item, keeping quality standards high. Lucire believes she’s read the market right—and may even be ahead of the curve while people become more wary of fast fashion and their opaque sourcing practices. •
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From the January 2019 issue of Lucire KSA
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