Interview with Anna Lindell of A Thora

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I sat down with the intelligently graceful Anna Lindell to discuss her time at RMIT, her glorious graduate collection and her feelings about the upcoming VAMFF runway. Cue fangirl squeals…

What was RMIT’s Bachelor of Fashion (Design) (Honours) like?

It was intense. I really enjoyed the course its quite a rollercoaster. Especially in fourth year, the amount of time you spend up there with the same people, and a lot of us would have a little corner each. A part of me misses it now, partly because I don’t have the studio space anymore. It’s a really good environment to be in. It’s such a nurturing environment. So even though it was really hard work, the people you are surrounded are really great which makes it.

What’s your graduate collection about?

It’s all made from bike tubes, a little bit of traditional textiles, but mainly bike tubes. A lot of people ask me how I came up with it but I don’t know exactly how I started using bike tubes. I started with the idea that I wanted to recycle something, and I always liked to play around with unusual materials.

I walked into a bike repair shop in Richmond and asked if they had any . At that point I was looking to see if they had any waste, they also had bike chains. He showed me big tubes of the rubber, the broken tubes. I just started experimenting.

Do you cycle?

I love to bike, but I actually don’t bike in Melbourne. I don’t have my own bike here. When I was in Amsterdam and back home in Sweden that I bike a lot. I sound like a bit of a chicken but Melbourne driving it a little bit intimidating for me to bike. I’m pretty sure I would get hit by a car on day two.

Did you encounter any difficulties in the process of making your graduate collection?

Sometimes the machines wouldn’t always work with the rubber. I remember the rubber used to stick to the machine as it would get really hot, and even when I was knitting. I sliced them down into smaller strips into a yarn ball and knitted it together. They used to get stuck on the needles so I used baby powder. Everyone else on level 10 was hating me because there was baby powder all over the floor.

How did you react when you found out you were picked to show at VAMFF?

I couldn’t believe it. I don’t think they sent anything through to the ones that were selected. My closest friends were asking who got in and I assumed I hadn’t because I didn’t hear anything. I remember I had a missed call from an unknown number. I was waiting for a call from Readings about this book for my friend, and wasn’t stressed to call this number back because I assumed it was from them. I called back the day after and was a bit like ‘oh my God’. It was jaw dropping. It took a while to sink in, how big of a deal it is.

This means that you’re hand picked from all the graduates out of Australia, you’re one of the best!

That still hasn’t kicked in. It’s a weird feeling but it does feel really great.

Can you imagine if you were to win, what your capsule collection with Target would look like?

I can but I don’t want to jinx it! I’m trying to visualise already what the capsule collection would look like. I’m not even that superstitious.

Is this your first time showing at fashion week?

I was selected for the mid-year show at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. I think that made me feel a little bit calmer for VAMFF, I know what they’re talking about when they mention fittings and everything like that. Because I also had uni and assignments at the time of MSFW, it was hard because you had to be completely focused on the runway even though you weren’t being marked on it.

What’s the whole process like, from fittings to catwalk?

It’s quite surreal. I experienced a little bit of it from my internship, all your hard work is over in a few minutes. Because it’s my own work this time, I’m very critical of it always, so you look at the faults. Nobody else would see them but you look at the runway picking out the things you could improve on. That’s also what you bring with you the next time you work, the improvements you want to make.

They put everything on right but there was one dress they put on inside out. I finished off one of the knitted dresses, you’ll have little finish ends and you could see them and I was just like ‘oh my God’. I don’t know if my friends were just trying to be nice but they said you couldn’t notice. I had to tell myself to calm down; it’s fine! In the rehearsals there are a few more mistakes. It almost makes you more nervous as to what could happen in the real show. Afterwards when it’s finished its euphoric.

If you were to start your own label would it be here in Melbourne?

Either here or in Scandinavia.

When do you predict you would start your label?

I would like to have industry experience first; internships and full-time jobs. Learn from other people’s mistakes. I’ve done one internship, and am currently looking into doing one now. I did one for Iris Von Herpen in Amsterdam for three months during the long break. End of november to mid-March.

How was your internship experience?

It was good. It was also really hard work. In a way it kind of prepped me for the final year of my course as we used to work six days a week, in the studio sometimes, and it would be from 9-6 or seven-ish; reasonable. As it got closer and closer to her show we would be there from nine in the morning until 12 at night. There was also a really good intern team who were strict but supportive. A really good close knit group of people. The designer herself is Dutch and there were only two other people who were Dutch, the rest of the interns were from Italy, France, all over the world.

How did you land your internship?

I can’t remember exactly what it was but I read an assignment from RMIT and I came across this designer and I really liked her stuff. At the start of the course I found it really hard to find what it was I was really interested in fashion, it took me a couple of years to get there. I read about this designer and I thought it was brilliant how she used a lot of 3-D printing and a very futuristic approach. Even though I don’t particularly do that, I think that’s when I started realising you don’t only have to use textiles in fashion.

With everything going digital, where do you think the future of fashion is going?

I think there’s still a long way to go before everything is 3-D printed or everything is going to be digitally made, but I think we’re going to get closer and closer to an in-between. I think there will always be traditional textiles. I think couture, avant garde stuff will always be there but the way we do it will change. I think it already has changed quite a lot.

Can you imagine a time when traditional hand operated machines like screen printers become obsolete and are replaced with these new technologies? 

I wouldn’t like to think, because I think the imperfection you get from hand always adds something different. Everything digital is very perfect and immaculate but when something is made by hand its a one-off, original. Even if it’s a little touch it makes all the difference.

Is that uniqueness something you want to bring to your future collections?

Yes, I think it’s something everyone always aims to. It doesn’t always turn out that way. It can be a small detail, a technique, but you always want it to be for yourself but also mainly to open up someone’s eyes to something new.

What do you think of Australian fashion in general?

I think it’s growing and they’re working really hard. You’ve got some really good designers. I love Dion Lee. Melbourne has got some really strong labels like Life With Bird. There’s a good market for it.

Do you think what’s going on in the world influences fashion?

Definitely. I think especially now there’s a lot of unisex clothing which started a few years ago. I think as a designer it’s really beneficial to read a lot of newspapers, and try to keep up to date with things outside of fashion. I look back on it now and there were all these stories about unisex bathrooms and a few fashion designers will pick up on that and say ‘hold on, something’s changing’ or relationships between genders are changing and they’ll base a collection around that. It could even be a side concept to your design concept.

Where do you typically draw inspiration from?

Usually it starts with reading. Sometimes philosophical readings about fashion and the body, and the relationship between the two. I always go into that relation, how the two work together. And then often it goes into the material, and then build them into the body and see how it works.

How does it feel having graduated from the same uni as Toni Maticevski?

He’s brilliant, he’s done so well. He’s a bit of a hero at RMIT, they always using him for marketing. We’re all thinking ‘are we living up to that? Pressure’s on’. He works really exceptionally and he knows how to communicate his work.

Do you have any favourite Insta accounts that you follow?

I follow Dion Lee, and Iris Von Herpen which I love because I get to see previous work and collections I’ve done which is fun, and Houssein Chalayan. Dion Lee I like because he works so great with materials, all of his textures, which they do close ups of and I love.

Any advice for starting a career in fashion?

It’s hard. I think as a newly graduate a lot of people will intern for free. You’ve really just got to make connections and if you really like a company, like a small label, you have to really hassle them to get a foot in. Even if they don’t have vacancies try and talk to them and get a communication started. If you do internships see if there are possible placements after you finish. I find Melbourne a bit tricky, I know there would be more opportunities in London and cities like that. But I also do like Melbourne and their culture in arts and fashion, so I like to hope there’s something here. I think I’m going to stay here for a little bit longer, and possibly go to London at the end of this year. I would like to go to New York because all my friends would be there but I think London suits me better fashion wise, they’re a bit more conceptual there.

Any last words for third years going onto their final year?

We were all quite terrified for fourth year. You would be in third year looking at the fourth year’s work and you would say to yourself ‘oh my god there is no way I’m going to do that when I get there’. But then you get there and you have to do the thesis. It’s fine. You should be prepared, have a really good break beforehand. Keep your head around concepts a little bit but there’s no need to freak out going into fourth year. Be excited and enjoy it even though it’s a lot more freedom, but I’ve also never worked as hard at uni. Get sucked into it and it’ll be fine. You’ll cry a few times, but maybe that’s just me.


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