The Empty Industry: Upcycling With Nastiya Rodionova

”Now to get real with you, fashion is a great, it is an incredibly interesting and rich industry, but it’s also not that big of a deal, you choose what it is for you. We won’t ever try to push something on you, you do you girl, we will catch up. We don’t believe in perfection, what we do believe in is messiness and authenticity. The most beautiful and fascinating things in this world aren’t perfect, and these imperfections are what makes everything around us unique and special. This is why our clothing is made to look slightly imperfect. Thats the message behind it.” – THE EMPTY INDUSTRY

When you get your piece delivered from The Empty Industry you will get a detailed care sheet, the story of the piece you purchased, and well as a lot of information about where was that particular piece made, who made it, and where the materials  were purchased. All the garments are made in ethical conditions and in small quantities as the designers don’t believe in overproduction and overconsumption and try to help the Earth little by little, as much as they can.

UPCYCLING PROJECT by THE EMPTY INDUSTRY

At The Empty Industry they do their best to not generate any waste. A lot of the fabrics are non-recyclable, and we know how much harm this can cause our planet. Which is why they started UPCYCLING PROJECT.

All the garments returned will be up-cycled and used in their next collection or stored for future use to be up-cycled later. This way, the fabrics won’t go to waste, and you will also not need to spend too much of your time trying to sell it online (because we’ve all been there). We assure you that none of this fabric will go to waste! Ever! This is not what this is about. See more here: https://www.themptyindustry.com/en/pages/upcycling-project

 

Photographer: Renata Kats | Style: Alexandra Osina | Makeup + Hair: Christine Frame

 

THE MISSION

1) All the pieces are manufactured in ethical conditions, by people who don’t work extra hours, and get paid for their job.

2) They do not retouch their product photos. What you see is what you get, you can be sure of that.

3) They try their best to stay as sustainable as they possibly can.

4) They do not overproduce. They underproduce. Every item is limited to a number of pieces, and they will only make a new production run if there is demand.

 

Photographer: Renata Kats | Style: Alexandra Osina | Makeup + Hair: Christine Frame
Photographer: Renata Kats | Style: Alexandra Osina | Makeup + Hair: Christine Frame

INTERVIEW WITH NASTIYA RODIONOVA, CEO + DESIGNER OF THE EMPTY INDUSTRY

 

When did you first realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?

I don’t think I ever did! It came naturally for me. My mom worked in fashion her entire life, so I was in this industry since I was a baby in a way. I actually studied Psychology in university, believe it or not, and then in my last year I already started working on my first collection. It just happened

When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?

My first internship ever was in a publishing house. It was very brief, all I did was sit there and watch other people work. It was very boring but it helped me understand how magazines work on the inside which helps me a lot now in terms of PR. As for fashion I helped my mom around in the boutique (she used to own a franchise of Vivienne Westwood in the Netherlands) , I was mostly stepping in for people that got sick and couldn’t make it to work which doesn’t seem like much, but it gave me insane retail insight that I wouldn’t change for anything else.

What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?

As I mentioned earlier, in my final year of uni I was already developing a collection. So my first job was designer and CEO in my company. I was doing swimwear at the time, it was messy, given that I didn’t have much experience in patternmaking or marketing and so I did possibly every mistake someone could make in terms of business. So that only lasted one year till I closed it down. And then I went back to school, spend 1.5 years taking courses on everything I needed to know as I was working on The Empty Industry to make sure I get it right this time. I am a perfectionist, I am obsessed with knowing everything.

Define sustainable concept nowadays in fashion industry in five words .

Novel, healthy, needed. I cannot really come up with words, it’s just so much more than that.

 

Photographer: Renata Kats | Style: Alexandra Osina | Makeup + Hair: Christine Frame

 

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be? 

Do not think you can do it alone and make it out alive!

What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?

Being way too confident. Thinking that it’s just “going to work” because it is so revolutionary and great. Never happens. There’s a lot of different aspects that make up success that you must consider.

What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?

Individuality. I never cast a “type” of a model unless there is a very specific story in the shoot. I look for individuality and personality, I like to get to know people. I don’t want to simply shoot someone beautiful, that person has to impress me inside-out.

What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?

Every single one. Social media allows you to directly speak to your consumer, allows you to test theories and products. Allows you to connect with people around the world. Its sort of a fast track to what you wanna achieve.

There is a downside though and that is getting people’s attention because there are millions of people on the web. How are you going to make them see you?

I still see fashion as something very deep and interesting. I think most people underestimate it, but if you think about it, fashion was always there. When you think of a specific event or a moment in time – you think of what people were wearing, whenever you go somewhere – you dress specifically for that event. We read people through clothing. For me it’s like science. We wouldn’t be able to exist without it

What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?

My least favourite thing is to see what it has turned into. Where I’m from, every other girl thinks she’s a designer and has a line of pyjamas, t-shirts, you name it. It turned into something irrelevant and mass. The magic is gone and I really miss that.

 

Photographer: Renata Kats | Style: Alexandra Osina | Makeup + Hair: Christine Frame

 

How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?

I want them to feel confident and feel like their power is endless. Like they can do anything and achieve anything they could possibly want.

Can you tell us how your brand makes a difference in fashion industry?

In Russia, we’re one of the first premium Zero Waste brands. Back home people are still very behind on sustainability and do not think it’s necessary. 

We do have sustainable brands, but they are on the side and stand on their own, they are not part of the industry as a whole, also, they mostly make basics. 

We are bringing sustainable fashion to Russia. It was my personal choice, as the brand initially started out in Paris, where I lived at the time.  But I didn’t want to simply create a clothing brand. I wanted to make a change and show people, that you can be in fashion and be sustainable. Its not rocket science.

News on the way regarding your next collection?

As we are against overproduction, we only release a collection once a year during the AW season. We obviously have our samples made already for 20/21, but we are unsure as to when it is going to be released because of what is happening in the world now. However, we also already started working on 21/22 and hopefully that will be presented in spring next year!

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer?

It depends on your role. If you are like me and you are in charge of both business and creative parts, I think it eventually becomes difficult to distinguish the two. I find it very difficult to stay creative when you head is occupied with other things. But I am finding ways around that. I do think its essential to travel and take some time off once in a while just to re-charge your batteries and find inspiration.

 

Photographer: Renata Kats | Style: Alexandra Osina | Makeup + Hair: Christine Frame

 

There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself?

Me. I am a perfectionist to the core. It is a challenge as much as a blessing but I will always keep pushing myself.

How do you think a big brand should motivate their collaborators and team members?

I think honesty is a big thing. Our team is very small and I find it helpful to check in on people, share some things with them as to how the company is doing on a larger scale. For example, when quarantine started I took the time to tell and assure everyone that we will all be working , no one is getting fired, your responsibilities are just going to differ a little working from home. Support is key.

This is challenging for larger companies as there are a lot more people working there , but I still believe you have to get close to people. Make them feel like they’re a part of something and its not just a 9-5.

How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?

I don’t think it’s a ‘role’. I think it is a way of living. It shouldn’t be something separate or a choice, it should be the natural way of doing things.

Fashion became about money, constantly generating profit, constantly innovating, releasing new product, faster every year and at any cost. We should all take a step back and stop only thinking about ourselves and realise that we have a responsibility to not impact our planet and the people with what we do. And we all love what we do. Then why causing so much harm is still considered okay?

 

Photographer: Renata Kats | Style: Alexandra Osina | Makeup + Hair: Christine Frame

 

Describe us you as a designer and how your feelings influence the creativity process?

I was never good at channeling my feelings into my art. And I don’t spend too long working on something. I always start with a sketch. It can be that I wake up in the middle of the night and think of something I will sketch it very quickly and then come back to it when I’m ready. Normally, if im designing something its not like im working on a piece all day, I will spend a couple of hours and try and make as many illustrations with as many designs as I possibly can that day. Then I take them to our production team and we perfect them together and make them functional. When that’s over I take another day and make another couple of illustrations. I tend to lose focus quickly so its important for me to do it in this particular way.

In terms of feelings, its never about emotion for me, except if im not in a very good place in my mind and I don’t feel like creating at all. Its about impulse. If I start do draw, I really just go with it and only stop when I feel like its enough. Its cathartic in a way when you come to think of it 

Would you like to involve other accessories designers in your future projects?

Of course! I always said to my team that if ever we go into accessories it will definitely be a collaboration. First of all, I have never designed accessories and would love to lear from someone who’s an expert, and second , it would be a great opportunity to become part of something bigger.

My dream is to make a line of bags made solely of the material we gathered with our Upcycling Project. But thats not in our plans yet

What do you think is the main mission of the CO-BRANDING concept ?

I think its important to support each other and other businesses. Also , from a business side, if you’re a small company you can’t possibly do everything, so if you do want to get into an area that you are unfamiliar with why not bring someone specialising in that and make it beneficial for both of you?

Also it is a great way to learn things from someone who really knows what they’re talking about. I think we all need that sometimes.

How fashion PR agencies can help more the brands and what skills a good fashion PR should have in your opinion?

Well, for PR connections are very important. A good PR agent must know people or companies that would be interested in your product and know how to pitch it. There’s a lot of technicals to it as well, how to write a press release etc , honestly, I tried, and ill tell you only a trained PR agent will know how to do it correctly. 

What designers inspire you and why?

Too many. Seriously , the list is endless. But lately I have really been into everything Glenn Martins is doing, the construction is just too beautiful for words

I really love Marine Serre as well, for the clothing as she initially made something so simple so relevant. And of course, I love that they are sustainable without screaming about it from the rooftop. They just do it

There is anyone special who would like to meet in person?

Edie Sedgwick. Unrelated to fashion, and unfortunately won’t happen. 

What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?

We are still an online-only store. We are opening a showroom in Moscow where you can buy our things but it is not a full-on shop. I think online just simplifies everything. I do understand the importance of the retail experience but I believe thats reserved for the lux segment at the moment.

Plus , our customer is someone who’s always on the move. I don’t think she has time to physically go and shop: https://www.themptyindustry.com/collections/all 

 

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