I’m Anna Popovich, a womenswear fashion designer living and working in East London. I design and make dresses and separates. At the moment it’s just me working on the label, so I do everything from researching and sketching designs to cutting the patterns and making each garment.
I think fashion is a medium that can be as innovative and thought-provoking as any other art form. Making “nice dresses” or designing something that is like something else – whether influenced by a vintage or contemporary designer – has never interested me. I design clothes because that is how I think. If something’s bothering me, if I have a question, or if I want improve my understanding of a particular subject, I do it by designing clothes.
When I started out, the thing I found most difficult was not the uncertain earnings or the long hours, but the response other people had to my chosen career. I had everything from in-depth questioning about my personal finances to, on at least two occasions, people laughing and turning to make conversation with someone else! It took me a long time to be able to answer the “So, what do you do?” question by looking someone straight in the eye and saying “I’m a fashion designer,” rather than mumbling something about making dresses. Running my own creative business has made me much more confident and assertive.
The first collection I posted on Etsy is still very special to me. It represents the first time I made a garment, which was the result of an intellectual process; not simply an aesthetic one. I spent a lot of time reading and looking into the ways in which humans have used clothing as second skins – as a way to hide or emphasize certain areas of the body.
I’m always interested in the way we use clothing to signify gender, and I love mixing masculine and feminine elements within the same piece. My Lawrence dress has oversized draped sleeves inspired by the clothing Henry VIII wore to make him appear more powerful and masculine, yet the end result is softer and feminine.
Setting up a fashion business and getting your designs noticed and sold through shops is an incredibly big step. Etsy has allowed me to ease into this, and to experiment and act on feedback I get from customers. Etsy let me to turn what I love doing into a business.
Being in control of designing and making original garments is incredibly important to me and a huge source of pride. My business is getting to a stage where I may need to get others on board to help with the process, but each design will always very much be an Anna Popovich!