Tell us a bit about you, your background, how did it all come about.
EKCENTRIK is all about sisterhood. It was created by us, two sisters, Avelina and Milena. Since our childhood, we always created different projects together, whether it was a customised board game or some custom pair of shoes. Milena is currently studying and modelling part-time and always dreamed of working in the fashion industry. Avelina worked in Zalando in Berlin but always had trouble finding lingerie that was original, a bit crazy but also comfortable. In apparel, there are already so many styles and fits for everyone but lingerie somehow stays always more conservative and often the pieces are too focused on stereotypical men’s taste or on comfort without crazy styles.
We also grew up in Warsaw, Poland where the buildings and the fashion are mostly in grey, black or white tones and with the exception of some hidden gems it still lacked some craziness at times. We still love Warsaw and admire how it develops so we always keep the greatest characteristic of this city at heart: the fighter spirit of women. However, as we travelled a lot and lived in different cities such as London, Berlin, Paris we decided to take the best out of these cities and got inspired to create a fun, daring brand as we wanted to differ from what has been done before.
We found that lingerie is often taken too seriously or considered to be only hidden under clothes. We were thirsty for lingerie that spreads a young and wild spirit. Even more so, we wanted to create a safe space, a community for those who felt rejected by society, or those who simply wanted to feel good in their lingerie. We started organising events, working with talented dancers and artists to build not only a brand but also a safe place for everyone to express their way of being, by daring to show your inner colours; daring to be Ekcentrik.
The lingerie design process is one of the most demanding field of fashion design. How did you end up there?
As the lingerie design process is very hard, there’s a lack of diversity on the market. We were passionate about lingerie, as it is the most intimate piece you’ll wear and the more close to your body. Being able to design something we knew people could wear on a daily basis and make them feel more confident was something we have both dreamed of. We got closer to this industry, as we got to know some contacts that were working in the fashion and more precisely lingerie sector. It was a long search where through one contact we got the other.
The lingerie market is still very conservative, creating our brand without any background in that field wasn’t easy. The hardest part of building EKCENTRIK was building a team that would be open to cooperate with a not only fresh brand but also a brand using satin materials- known as a very demanding material in the industry. Even if Poland is a great place for manufacturing exclusive fashion there are less and less seamstresses and craftsmen to work with that have experience yet are innovative. It took us long before meeting the right people, who also agreed to trust us at first. We care about producing locally and with care, so we work closely with family-owned firms in Poland, see them on a regular basis to build a relationship built on trust.
In your designs a hyperkinetic and chromatic spirit is captured. Does you personality has similarities with the current mood of your brand?
Each of us is different, however we can both agree that we are very low-key, not showing everything at the first sight, just as lingerie. Just as EKCENTRIK reflects it well, we’re all about having fun and daring to show our true personalities.
With a slightly more toned-down style, Milena loves to style classical pieces with crazy accessories, such as Ekcentrik lingerie, whereas you will see Avelina’s colourful outfits and especially her obsession with oversized jackets right away. We believe in colour therapy, so our moods will often be reflected by the colour of lingerie we wear.
How important is the role of “play” in your life?
Life is short, so we feel like there’s no time to waste. The aim of our designs, of our events, of our brand is to have fun, and to have fun with everyone. Whether you love your job or hate it, whether you’re a party animal or a stay at home kind of person, our lingerie should always be a fun, mood boosting accessory in your outfit, whether someone else will see it or not. We believe lingerie is often taken too seriously and lacks experimenting with other fashion pieces. With EKCENTRIK, no rules apply, so you may as well just play with it in your own way!
Glam rock elements, Prince’s influences, David Bowie’s eccentricity are some of your main sources of inspiration. Can you shed some light onto that?
David Bowie was our first icon inspiration. With his glam rock looks, he wasn’t afraid of other people’s gazing. He found a way to show his inner colours not only through his music, but also by creating a whole Bowie universe, which we fell for. As you can see on our logo, the I is replaced by a thunderbolt, which is partly inspired by Bowie’s album. As our pieces are inspired by parties, music and having fun, it’s also thanks to artists like him or Prince.
We also got very inspired by Grace Jones, Prince and all the eccentric parties at that time. Excess is sometimes a good thing and being different also. These personalities inspired us to make our lingerie “EKCENTRIK”.
You’ve lived in London, Berlin and Paris for a while. How have all these multicultural exposures affected your creations?
Above all, living in those different cities has helped us open our minds to new forms of creativity, onto meeting eccentric people and daring to be ourselves even more. We believe each city has its specificity, its lessons to teach and we believe that EKCENTRIK perfectly combines all of those cities. Our hometown, Warsaw, always had a very fierce and fighter spirit of women, who inspired us to work hard in order to get where we want to be. London has taught us not to care about what others may think. With its eccentricity, London is probably one of the most interesting city fashion- wisely. We want to spread this audacity and being yourself, no matter what another may think. A similar vibe came to us from Berlin, with its craziness and carelessness. The “Come as you are” state of mind has never been so accurate, not in a neglected way, but in a very honest, personality-revealing way. Finally, Paris showed us a strong charismatic femininity and elegance.
For us, each of those cities has another personality, just like our different colours can express different characters or moods.
Which is your favorite decade and why?
Although you can guess that we were inspired by different decades when creating EKCENTRIK lingerie, our favourite decade is the 90s. First of all, whether you’re more into Rn’B Hip hop or pop, 90s were the most diverse musical decade in our opinion, hence we got inspired by the 90s party vibe. Also, in terms of fashion trends, the pre – 2000 decade has instilled a not only stylish vibe but also a very comfortable one. We love comfortable fashion too, which you will notice while wearing our second skin feeling lingerie, that is more a fashion accessory, a crazy statement rather than underwear you should simply wear under a shirt. Oh, and also, let’s not forget about how Kate Moss made slip dresses the go-to day-to-night looks and made preparing for going out so much easier.
What would you say are the most relevant issues that the industry is facing right now?
In the times we’re currently living in, whilst the fashion industry seems to be going in a good direction, there are some persisting issues as well as new ones that the industry didn’t have to face with the older generations.
Looking at the European market, above all, younger generations often seek to become creative directors, managers or often working digitally. However, in order to create good, quality lasting products, there are less and less seamstresses, lingerie constructors and the craftsmanship is now facing a decline. As mentioned before, the hardest part of creating EKCENTRIK was to find a good team, and that is mainly due to that reason. This phenomenon is leading to another issue: as there are less well experienced or innovative craftsmen, producing locally can become too expensive for the brands to be able to sell their products at an affordable price. Thus, small local brands need to face a disadvantage towards big brands that are often producing in countries where craftsmanship is very cheap. It is then important to choose your expenses: buy more low-quality products with human and ecological consequences or buy less locally produced, high quality designs that are made with love.
Looking ahead, where do you see your brand in the future?
As an open minded and engaged brand, we would like to continue developing a safe space for everyone. Having grown in Poland, where the mindset is still quite conservative, we would like to spread awareness about the LGBTQIA+ communities, as well as give voices to young talented voguers, dancers, artists and other inspiring personalities, as we care about our community. We would like to create more events for people to meet and share while having fun, trying to make each of our clients as confident as we can.
Also, as there isn’t enough focus on the male’s section underwear, we strive to going into a more and more unisex direction, by creating pieces that can be worn by everyone. Our main goal is to develop an innovative lingerie brand that would be in opposition to conservative underwear codes while retaining the know-how of traditional techniques. Finally, no matter what, our aim will always remain to have fun with lingerie and to dare to show your inner colours.
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Photography: Marco Giuliano / @marcogiulianoph
Styling: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Fashion: Ekcentrik / @ekcentrik_lingerie
Editorial assistant: Inga Lavarini / @ingalavarini
Interview: Iro Bournazou / @irwb
Video soundtrack: HoliznaCC0 – Lost On The Freeway
Models: Chiara, Letizia / @its_svergytime @letiziagavesi