Thursday, September 22, 2011

Indie Designer: Mila Ateva of Sassa Björg

'Bright Lights, Deep Shades' collection by Sassa Björg

So as part of the ongoing sustainable fashion debate, I have decided to start featuring the profiles of independent fashion and accessory designers who might not be using eco-fabrics or recycled materials per se (if at all), but instead have made a commitment to producing their designs locally – creating sustained jobs for talented artisans and sewers in their community, and subsequently, providing a way for artistic and cultural ideas to prevail.

Sassa Björg designer, Mila Ateva, being a bit 'sassy' 
(photo credit: Nadya Kaneva)

Mila Ateva of Sassa Björg understands what it means to be indie. She creates all of her designs in a bright and colorful atelier on a garden back street in central Sofia, Bulgaria, and during the rainy afternoon that I visited, she had a dedicated seamstress working away on a sewing machine that was surrounded by a rainbow of thread spools.

Sassa Björg atelier in central Sofia (polaroids by Abigail Doan)

I immediately thought to myself that this is how we should see garment workers working – kindly treated, in dialogue with the designer, and stopping at intervals to ask questions and tweak the designs. It was an inspiring thing to witness. It was a true crafting partnership.

My new wool fiber piece from Sassa Björg

Sassa Björg collections celebrate women with a killer independent spirit, and as designer Mila Ateva revealed to me over coffee, women of all ages collect her pieces as a way to add some edginess ("kinkiness") to their lives and closets. All ages? That sounds pretty sustainable to me.

I loved being able to go through racks of Mila's latest designs while we chatted. The fact that some one was on-site making something during the interview totally energized the combination workspace and retail set up.

The new 'Bright Lights, Deep Shades' collection featured here should definitely be snatched up by women all over the planet, although I think that it is pretty cool that savvy shoppers in Sofia know that their favorite picks are only one of a few in existence globally. For now.

Visit the Sassa Björg Facebook page for information on new designs and events. You can also find a curated selection of pieces online at parAvan.

(image credits)
photographer: Vasil Germanov

model: Yana Gerova
hair:  Lubomir Petrov
make-up: Slav

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