LONDON — Avant-garde — but for the masses.
H&M’s sustainable subsidiary brand & Other Stories has collaborated with London-based brand A.W.A.K.E. Mode on a collection that will launch this fall.
A.W.A.K.E. Mode is led by founder Natalia Alaverdian, a former fashion director for Harper’s Bazaar Russia. The 14-piece collection consists of 12 ready-to-wear pieces and two accessories, and is due to drop in late October.
Since starting her label in 2012, Alaverdian’s designs put a playful twist on the deconstructed aesthetic that was embarked on by the likes ‘90s antifashion designers Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto and Ann Demeulemeester.
The & Other Stories team called Alaverdian for the collaboration. She said she and her mother are massive fans of the brand, but for her, it’s always been about how the physical stores make her feel a sense of comfort.
& Other Stories was launched in 2013 with a vision that merges the minimalism of Cos and H&M’s more feminine design. The brand has ateliers between Paris, Stockholm and Los Angeles — and 76 stores in 24 markets in Europe, the U.S. and Asia.
Alaverdian felt very encouraged to take on the job with the retailer without any hesitations, she said.
“It’s quite fashion-forward, but without being too snobby or too heavy,” she said, adding it’s the reason she felt comfortable in designing for the brand because it’s what she tries to convey in her own pieces.
Alaverdian said she never wants to intimidate her customers with the deep side of design, and is adamant that radical design can be comfortable and that everybody can find space for it in their wardrobe.
This is A.W.A.K.E Mode’s first collaboration with a high-street chain. & Other Stories portfolio of partnerships has always included a band of industry insiders, from Rodarte, Rejina Pyo to Zana Bayne and Sadie Williams.
In the process, Alaverdian was given total freedom to design, with & Other Stories handling production and fabric sourcing. The collection features ribbed knitwear that’s slightly off the shoulder, a black skirt with square stitching to give it a quilt illusion, a black coat with a cutout back and a white shirt that has a bustier attached to it.
The Swedish brand has stated that it has a goal of reaching 100 percent sustainably sourced or recycled materials by 2030.
Alaverdian is transparent about the sustainability behind the pieces in the collection. “Not all the fabrics are sustainable, but the wool was sourced through the Responsible Wool Standard and we also used Naia yarn,” she said. In her own practices at A.W.A.K.E. Mode, the brand uses deadstock and recycled fabrics.