Pattern maker at USISI-SISTER
Our London design studio is at the heart of the community we’re creating at Usisi-Sister. The art of making and the artisan skills involved in a beautiful and timeless garment is the lifeline of our own creativity.
Being in the studio, playing with proportions and discovering new textiles is such an exciting part of being a creative, and we wanted to reflect that joy in our new series profiling some of the inspiring makers in our community. First is Arina G, our textile pattern cutter who works with us in the London studio.
USISI-SISTER: What led you to work with USISI-SISTER?
Arina G: I’m a fashion designer myself, with a degree from the Italian Istituto Marangoni, I used to have my own studio where I’d create lots of garments. At the first meeting with Kathryn and Millie there was an immediate and natural bond. Their creative ideas were so close to my own sense of style and taste that it seemed like a natural collaboration to work together. Over time working with the brand, I realized that my strong point is creating patterns, so that’s my main focus at USISI-SISTER.
USISI-SISTER: What does pattern making involve?
Arina G: By definition, pattern making is the art of translating a designer's idea for a garment into a real piece of apparel that fits the body in a flattering way - you have to be able to create the blueprint of that idea, then communicate it very clearly all the way into a finished result.
USISI-SISTER: What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of the job?
Arina G: I would say the most challenging part of the job is to understand the client and their vision correctly, to be able to see the idea almost with their own eyes, making sure it has a way to work and reveal the main features and fit of the style and emphasizing them correctly. So the final piece turns out exactly as they have envisioned it, hopefully with the least amount of attempts.
The most rewarding would be to see a happy client and designer and the final result being worn, whether on a model or a person who bought it. It makes it real, it makes your time and skill feel worthwhile, it makes you proud of the journey that took you to the final stage.
USISI-SISTER: What inspires you?
Arina G: I get inspired by travel, when my brain gets a break from work then I can look at all the things surrounding me with fresh eyes. I’m also inspired by people on the street with a different sense of style, friends, and, of course, I am inspired by my clients, such as the Usisi sisters. I enjoy their work dynamic, their ideas and style, and always look forward to working with them.
USISI-SISTER: What’s your earliest fashion memory?
Arina G: My mother began sewing for herself quite early when she was still in school. By the time I was born, she created a small "fashion theatre" in which young mothers worked both as dressmakers and models for their designs. They would work in their homes while their kids were asleep. It was her personal social project, which helped young mothers with their finances and created a sense of community for them. Therefore, we can say that I got acquainted with fashion with my mother's milk.
She continued sewing for herself and me and later on, for my sister for a very long time. In fact almost everybody in my family knew their way around a sewing machine, including my dad.
My own first fashion related memory would be my first Barbie. It was not an easy thing to acquire in Russia and not too many options of clothing were available. But I wanted her to have an interesting wardrobe, so I have started making clothes for her from the things I could find in the house. Later, as a teenager, I started wanting to make things for myself, experimenting on my own outfits. I found a Burda Moden magazine at home - a German fashion magazine that included designs and their patterns, so you could make the designs you liked at home - we had a sewing machine at home and I was shown how to use it. Sometimes I would sew something new, sometimes I would deconstruct the existing garment to make it into a new design. It was fun!
USISI-SISTER: What does an average work day look like for you?
Arina G: An average day consists of thinking a design through, making a few options and ideas of how it can work and talking through those ideas with the designer to decide on the best way to make the style. Most of my time is spent on analysing the style, fit, measurements and then building the appropriate pattern pieces, later on discussing the finishes with the studio and the people who will sew the design.
USISI-SISTER: Thinking of the concept of Usisi-Sister, do you have a sister that are close to — or a friend that you have a sisterly bond with?
Arina G: My sister has been passionate about music all her life, she writes songs, plays and sings on stage. Recently, she suddenly began to paint, which I guess is a step closer towards the direction of my work field.
In terms of fashion interest, my mother would be a closer person to me in my tastes. If she lived nearby, she would definitely want to create a brand together as she is quite passionate about fashion. We would have been complimentary partners, as marketing and PR are her strong suits, whilst my expertise is on the technical and creative aspects of design and production.
USISI-SISTER: How would you like to see fashion change within the next few years?
Arina G: I am not a big fan of fast fashion, everything changes too fast and there are too many sacrifices in the process, mainly quality. We are in the era of cheap, replaceable clothing. Too many seasons and trend changes force us to keep buying what is “in trend” now instead of what suits our lifestyle types. I hope fashion returns back to the days of quality pieces that last and have a solid idea/ inspiration behind them. Quality fabrics, quality finishes and trimmings. I would like people to learn to respect each individual piece of fashion as much as the professionals and craftsmen do.