„The name is SRVC (pronounced service) as we create garments that actually serves the woman that wears them.“
Rethinking womenswear, an interview with London-based label SRVC
If inclusivity and empowerment became interview keywords that designers drops to appear relevant; it is a very privileged experience to meet creatives such as founder Masha Adonyeva, Design Director Ricky Harriott and General Manager Gunnar Brock who genuinely believe in elevating the woman’s wardrobe and do better in an industry still focused on designing for an imaginary female archetype. They accepted to discuss the process behind their newest collection and gave us some insights about their launch.
Fräulein: Could you introduce yourselves to our readers and explain how this project came to life?
Masha: We’ve all always been passionate about fashion. We met and decided to create this project.
Ricky: I’ve been designing for a while and met Masha on a project in Paris, (she and Gunnar have already been friends for a very long time) and I think getting to know each others over time, we realise how our ideas about women’s fashion and what we want to see in design were kind of aligning. So we started thinking of maybe doing something together.
Gunnar: Thinking about the brand and how it came about, is that the core idea which became very apparent; we wanted to dress a wide range of women from the beginning. The idea was having a brand that wouldn’t be addressed to only one specific kind of women, one specific age or one specific body type but appeals to a lot of different type of women and gave them the opportunity to kind of personalise the clothes to them. And that’s basically where the name comes from, the name is SRVC (pronounced service) as we create garments that actually serves the woman that wears them. What we mean by that is that most of the pieces that we produce have elements of self-styling into them, which gives the wearers the opportunity to adapt our products to their own tastes and their own style. That’s something that was always very important to us, not to just be inclusive but also to give that additional edge of self-styling and individualisation. We also didn’t want to have a boring brand, so we decided to go for an aesthetic a bit out there and fashion forward but that can be worn different ways. You can dress it up or down depending on how the wearer feel on that day.
Fräulein: Your pieces are quite technical in terms of cuts and fabrics. I guess it somewhat of a challenge in the making of a collection? Was it important for you to offer complex products?
Ricky: I think when we were developing the collection, and as well in my design background, I always aim to design pieces that have a freshness and a more technical way of presenting what garments can be. When we started working on that collection, we were really into the idea of developing garments that look complicated and have technicality to them but actually exude quite a lot of ease. The deconstructed jersey pieces, for example, they literally just pull-on. Being called SRVC we make sure our garments, although they look technical, have a certain amount of ease to be super digestible and easy to incorporate into your personal wardrobe.
As for the fabrics, we actually collected our fabrics from a bunch of different spaces. I think with the way fashion is going at the moment we obviously want to push our fabrication as much into the forefront as interesting textiles as possible. For some of our knitted pieces, the lurex especially, they are all knitted from recycled materials, so sustainability goes hand in hand with technicality as well; although we are not fully sustainable, we are really pushing our textiles to be as sustainably sourced as possible. Hopefully leading to a fully sustainable place!
Fräulein: We can note some pastels but the whole collection dives in the realm of neutrals. Would you ever use color?
Ricky: Colours is actually something Masha is super passionate about, and she really enjoy colors.
Masha: Yes! We are actually working on the next collection as we speak and we’ll be incorporating more of it in the next one!
Ricky: For sure and that something, I think, is important for us (and people enjoy having colour in their wardrobes). The reason why neutral tones are so prominent in the collection is because we approach design with the idea that it’s not going to be just worn for a season, and we are very passionate about people buying something from us and then having it for a really long time. We want it to always remaining current in their life and wardrobe. Neutral tones are an indicatives of it always having a place in the widest spectrum of clothing and style.
Fräulein: In what creating an inclusive line is different to a traditional design approach?
Ricky: It obviously comes with its challenges in terms of making sure everything fits and that everyone’s body is addressed in a proper way, and not just grade your garments up and hope that they’ll fit. For us, it was more of a “why can’t this women wear this dress?” Rather than “Oh, she’s older, so we’ll make sure she’s covered.” No, for us, she can wear a short dress and look incredible. We thought of inclusivity in the sense that this cool pieces could be for everyone rather than, this is something appropriate for your age group. We address inclusivity in a “you can be in this space!” Kind of way.
Gunnar: When working on our lookbook, somebody suggested that we put the more covered pieces on the older models, but this what not the way we wanted to go about this. Everything should be for everyone, and we want everyone to feel comfortable with what they are wearing. It’s the beauty of it also, that you don’t limit yourself creatively.
Masha: It’s the whole idea. A daughter who is 18 can wear the same dress as her 75 years old mom and look amazing in it. It doesn’t matter what age you are, as long as you are expressing yourself. You like it and you wear it, that’s all!
Fräulein: Their is something very sensual in this collection but without having to try too hard, how do you find a balance?
Ricky: Some of the pieces are cut in-house, I think of the body-con pieces, it’s about when you take away in one area, you give away in another. I think in the way I cut, i always think about if I put a slash across the chest (for example) where can we give back to another place. Women have a very rich duality, that is impossible to capture in one piece of design but when I’m doing something, especially the cut away pieces, I’m trying to address how I can get balance and duality as much as possible. As you highlighted it, it is sexy but it has a toughness or a delicateness. I believe it makes you feel more understood, if there is some consideration in the way the garments are cuts.
Fräulein: A fashion inspiration that personally brought you to this industry ?
Ricky: For me, as somebody who grew up in Tottenham (London) around a lot of moms, especially single moms who were really pushing the boundaries of what was possible financially or career wise. Fashion always has this aim of making women feel incredibly secure and confident; so my muse comes from a very personal place and my aim is always to strengthen and place an armour on women in the world they live in. So that’s kind of how I started designing the way I do.
Masha: regarding my background, I’m from Russia and I was always passionate about fashion and creating my own garments my whole life. I was always collecting art and for me fashion is very connected to art, so I was inspired by many many artists. At some point you want to express yourself as an individual and after meeting with Gunnar and noticing we were looking in the same direction, liking the same designers, that’s how ,for me, it tied everything together when we started this adventure.
Gunnar: Lastly, for me, it’s a very concrete example and less philosophical than the other two. I can fromthe country side of Germany without fashion background. As a teenager, I always dreamt of owning a pair of Dior skinny jeans by Hedi Slimane and I think that was my first big contact with fashion. That being said, today it had changed a quite a bit, also in the aesthetic that I enjoy, but it is my first memory of a high fashion item I dreamt about before started working in this industry.
Fräulein: Would you have a personal favourite look or piece from the collection?
Ricky: All of us could answer in a different way. I like the tailoring and I love doing tailoring. This season our tailored pieces have a lot of subtleties in the way they assemble and disassemble. There is a string-tie that goes in internal holes in the side, so you can synch your silhouette just by doing the jacket up. Their is also an invisible zipper on the shoulder seam that allows you to style the pieces. I really love when garments can work together and have a symbiosis and I really pushed that notion throughout the tailoring section of the collection. All the bottoms as well, have invisible zips in the waistband so you can style your shirts and jackets through the trousers too. These little things make me happy!
Masha: I love the whole collection, and I can’t wait to wear all those incredible items. It’s very hard for me to pick one, but I would say the trench coat is a must have, in my opinion.
Gunnar: Look 15! the white crisp shirt is one of the firsts idea Ricky pitched to us, and I thought it was so simple and so chic. It is basically a shirt both ways and you can wear is different ways and open it, if you decide to show some skin, I just really like the simplicity of the idea and how fresh and crisp it looks.
Fräulein: What’s next after this successful launch?
Gunnar: What was really interesting for us after working on this project for eight months, was to finally bring it to life and get feedbacks on our work by talking to buyers and press and see how people react to it. It really helped us define what we want to focus on next season, in term of style and what we want to convey with the band. It gave us some really cool ideas to incorporate in the next collection, on which owe are already working on now. Some interesting twists are going to come! And I’ll let you know in six month.
Words by Marien Brandon
Images courtesy of SRVC via AutrementPR